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The Gandhian Concept of 'Swaraj' in Education
By CA. Reena Desai*
The second half of 20th century has witnessed three major explosions of the human world, the population explosion, explosion of knowledge and explosion of our hopes and aspirations. People have realized more and more the need of knowledge to improve their standard of living. Extensive use of science and modern Information Technology has also provided a wider scope of educating the millions of people to serve their growing needs of education.
Under these circumstances, formal school and college education has proved to be inadequate to undertake the gigantic task of educating the increasing number of the world population. Mere theoretical education is not sufficient in today's competitive world. In this scenario of problems with global magnitude, the reformation of the education sector is needed to be rethought. Gandhiji visioned a very different education system. The entire world accepts the clarity of his perception and his assessment of the shape of future trends so much so that with the passage of time the relevance of his thoughts and ideas is gaining greater significance globally. When Gandhi denied the prevailing system of education, he had radical ideas to restructure it. What was so radical about his views and ideas on education? His concepts and ideas about education were dynamic and futuristic. Autonomy and Privatisation, the most controversial issues in the field of higher education today  were dreamt and advocated firmly by Gandhiji years ago in the form of ‘Swaraj’ in education.
The present paper discusses the relevance of Gandian model of ‘Swaraj ’in education in the new millennium. The concept of ‘Swaraj’ is developed in this study by correlating it with three aspects viz. Autonomy, Self supporting system and Privatisation. Mahatma Gandhi wanted education—reconstructed —to help India move towards a different form of development which is more suited to its needs and more viable for the world as a whole. Swaraj in education as interpreted by Gandhiji was all about Higher education in private hands, Autonomy in the educational institutes with least interference of the Government and Self supporting system of education which is simple, practical and less expensive.

  1. To understand the relevance of Gandhian concept of Swaraj in the contemporary scenario of higher education.
  2. To study whether the Gandhian concept of Swaraj would free the society from the constraints of the conventional educational settings
  3. To examine whether the contemporary educational institutes are able to create an environment needed to implement Gandhian concept.
  4. To provide a direction for radical transition and the careful design of educational system, outside the formal structure with respect to freedom, flexibility and economy.
  5. To explain the factors influencing the success of Swaraj initiative

The study is based on secondary sources of data like Books, Published articles, Research papers, Research reports and relevant websites. As it is exploratory in nature, it presents the author’s view point based on the existing written material explored.

Limitations and Future Research
The scope of the study is limited as it is based only on the researcher’s views about the Gandhian concept of swaraj in education. The subject under study may be extended and the relevance of it can be better understood by collecting and analysing the views of the various stakeholders like learners, teachers, other academicians and policy makers who influence the prevailing education system.

Educational Institution can be considered to be a knowledge intensive organization. The emergence of a large number of Higher education providers in India over the past decade, has raised issues of quality and sustainability in the education sector. Facilitating knowledge creation and dissemination to the target audience hence become very important. It is therefore necessary to study the various aspects of the Indian university system and research centres. It’s a need of time to understand and implement Gandhian views on education.
Gandhi’s proposal intended to stand the education system on its head. The social philosophy  and the curriculum of what he called ‘basic education’ thus favoured the child belonging to the lowest stratum of society. He advocates that the Higher education should be the extension of ‘basic education’ In such a way it implied a programme of social transformation. Today everyone feels that there should be radical change in the educational arena. Gandhiji’s ideas of Swaraj leads us towards the complete re orientation of basic and higher education. It sought to alter the symbolic meaning of ‘education’ and to change the established structure of opportunities for education.

Background of the study ( Literature Review):
In this age of debate over privatization of higher education, Gandhi’s views are worth recalling. Any well-informed scholar knows that Gandhi invariably advocated limited government intervention, unfettered individual liberty and freedom, and higher education in private hands. On these aspects there is no sign of deep discussion in the Gandhian literature, nor any public discussion. But this is a crucial subject to be dealt with for the present generation of India. Above all else, Gandhi valued self-sufficiency and autonomy. These were vital for his vision of an independent India made up of autonomous village communities to survive. It was the combination of swaraj and swadeshi related to the education system. A state system of education within an independent India would have been a complete contradiction as far as Gandhi was concerned.[ Gandhi wrote (1946 & 1945)][1]

Gandhi said (1937, 1938, 1947 & 1948)
“I would revolutionize college education and relate it to national necessities. There would be degrees for mechanical and other engineers. They would be attached to the different industries which should pay for the training of the graduates they need. Thus the Tatas would be expected to run a college for training engineers under the supervision of the State, the mill associations would run among them a college for training graduates whom they need. Similarly for the other industries that may be named. Commerce will have its college. There remain arts, medicine and agriculture. Medical colleges would be attached to certified hospitals. As they are popular among moneyed men they may be expected by voluntary contributions to support medical colleges. And agricultural colleges to be worthy of the name must be self-supporting.” [1]
Today the youth educated in our Universities either ran after Government jobs or fell into devious ways and sought outlet for their frustration by fomenting unrest. The aim of University education should be to turn out true servants of the society. He therefore  opined that University education should be co-ordinated and brought in to the line with basic education to be more effective. [Harijan, 25-8-46 (Towards New Education)][2]
According to Bhagavan Baba, “What the world badly needs today is not wealth, affluence, and prosperity but students with exemplary character. The progress of the nation depends on such students alone. In this scenario of problems with global magnitude, Philosophers of the world have again pointed out the most important solution, namely, the reformation of the education sector with a focus on development of holistic or integrated personality. Krishnamurti stated, “There is no denial that the purpose, the aim and drive of the educational institutes must be to equip the students with the most excellent technological proficiency so that the students may function with clarity and efficiency in the modern world. But a far more important purpose than this is to create the right climate and environment so that the students may develop fully as total human beings.[6]

The adult education should have intensive programme of driving out ignorance through carefully selected teachers and equally carefully selected syllabus. This is possible only if the initiatives are taken by the educational institute. Nothing is more detrimental to the true growth of the society than for it to be habituated to the belief that no reform can be achieved by voluntary effort. People so trained become wholly unfit for ‘Swaraj’[2]
As Narendra Jadhav, member, Planning Commission, points out, "Autonomy will grant institutions with a good-track record more operational freedom. They can run the institutions without having to depend on the state or the central government."Choice of the institutions will be made on the basis of 'age' and 'quality' of education . This was dreamt by Gandhiji right in the era of pre independence.
The right to autonomy that Gandhi’s educational plan assigns to the teacher in the context of the daily curriculum is consistent with the libertarian principles that he shared with Tolstoy. Gandhi wanted to free the Indian teacher from interference from outside, particularly government or state bureaucracy. Gandhi’s plan, was the freedom it gave the teacher in matters of curriculum. It denied the state the power to decide what teachers taught and what they did in the classroom. It gives autonomy to the teacher but it was, above all, a libertarian approach.
If individual liberty goes, then surely all is lost, for if the individual ceases to count, what is left of society? No society can possibly be built on a denial of individual freedom. It is contrary to the very nature of man. Every individual must have the fullest liberty to use his talents. Individual liberty and inter-dependence are both essential for life in society.If the youth is trained in such an environment, undoubtedly they can unleash their talents for the betterment of the society.

Higher education should be left to private enterprise and for meeting national requirements whether in the various industries, technical arts, belles-letters or fine arts. The State Universities should be purely examining bodies, self-supporting through the fees charged for examinations. Universities will look after the whole of the field of education and will prepare and approve courses of studies in the various departments of education. University charters should be given liberally to any body of persons of proved worth and integrity, it being always understood that the Universities will not cost the State anything except that it will bear the cost of running a Central Education Department. Privatisation can bridge the gap between knowledge gaining and its application.

Self Supporting System:
Gandhiji was opposed to all higher education being paid from general revenue.What Gandhiji really wanted was for the educational institute to be self- supporting, as far as possible. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, a poor society such as India simply could not afford to provide education for all children unless the schools could generate resources from within. Secondly, the more financially independent the schools were, the more politically independent they could be.Gandhiji gives an example of students studying in foreign Universities, who go for the summer placement and earn to bear their educational expenses. If developed country students require to do so, where is the question of our country? What Gandhi wanted to avoid was dependence on the state. He suggested Khadi and charkha in each and every institute to teach the values like swaraj and swadeshi. Gandhi's basic education was, therefore, an embodiment of his perception of an ideal society consisting of small, self-reliant communities with his ideal citizen being an industrious, self-respecting and generous individual living in a small co¬operative community.

Suggestions and Recommendations
  1. It is necessary to create awareness among all the stakeholders of education system to promote the autonomy and privatisation to prepare them for the global competitive age
  2. There is an immediate need to train and prepare the providers and the recipients for education to make the process more effective and flexible to meet the contemporary challenges in the field of education.
  3. Leadership and top management commitment/support are crucial to the success of autonomy and self supporting system.
  4. Resource influences such as having sufficient financial support, skilled knowledge providers, ideal infrastructure and identified knowledge sources, are also important to be looked into for implementation of Swaraj in education.
  5. A knowledge-friendly culture; a solid technical and organizational infrastructure; and a standard, flexible knowledge structure is required to promote Gandhian views.

Gandhi’s views on education and ethics have strong relevance at this juncture. After the recent global financial crisis, Gandhi's principles have become more valid and relevant.  In the new millennium, one would definitely agree to the strategic advantage of Autonomy and privatisation in the higher education organizations. To succeed in the current situation , higher education institutions must endeavour to effectively link Swaraj initiatives and processes with their ever-changing needs in the field of education , ensuring  advancement of their goals. Addressing these challenges call for a new conceptual framework to ensure success in the utilization of the same.
The paper thus propagates a shift towards the framework that attempts to prove the relevance of Gandian model of ‘Swaraj’ (Autonomy, self supporting system, privatisation) in education and concludes that there is an urgent need to recall the Gandhian ideas to change the DNA of education system.

Books and Articles
  1. Gandhi, M. K.-P(1997) “Hind Swaraj and other writings”, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Gandhi, M. K-P(1953) “Towards New Education”, Navjeevan Publishing House.
  3. Ram Pratap -P(2009) “Gandhian Management - The paragon of Higher Order Management” Jaico Publishing House
  4. Gandhi, M. K.-P(1953) “To Students”Navjivan Publishing House
  5. An article on Speech delivered by J.S. Rajput(chairman- National Council for Teacher Education) “Gandhi on Education”17 August 1998
Research Report
  1. Published in PROSPECTS: the quarterly review of education, (Paris, UNESCO: International Bureau of Education), vol. 23, no. 3/4, 1993, p. 507-17. ©UNESCO: International Bureau of Education, 1999
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  2. retrieved on 22/01/2012
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  5. retrieved on 24/01/2012
  6. retrieved on 22/01/2012
  7. retrived on 25/01/2012
  8. retrieved on 19/01/2012
Courtesy: This article has been reproduced from the ISBN Publication - Gandhi in the New Millennium - Issues and Challenges' published by Khandwala Publishing House.

* CA. Reena Desai. Nagindas Khandwala College, Mumbai.