Any concept associated with Gandhiji should necessarily be a derivative of truth
and non-violence. For this Indian rural economy is not an exception.
For Gandhiji “Truth and Ahimsa must incarnate in socialism. That
economics is untrue which ignores or disregards moral values.”
Violence is an offshoot of exploitation is it political, social or economic. All
wars between countries are fought for economic reasons directly or
indirectly. The recent gulf war is an example. Similarly, lot of
killings takes place due to social or inequalities and exploitation.
The ever widening gulf between the have and have-nots is the root
cause, leading to misery and “When the cup of misery fills it
overflow is the form of revolution”. Hence, an economic order free
from the bane of exploitation is a prerequisite for a nonviolent peaceful society.
Then, how to build an economic system which does not give room for
exploitation of one by the other? We have seen that it is the
unbridled play of profit motive of the privileged classes that leads
to exploitation is of the under privileged. Such a situation exists
in a capitalistic economy where the individual’s profit motive is
allowed a free play and he is given every opportunity to exploit all
situations to his gain even to the extent of injuring the very
society he lives in.
In trying to stem this rot, the communistic ideology swings the pendulum to the other
end by curbing the profit motive of the individual to such an extent
that the person loses his individuality and initiative altogether
and becomes yet another cogwheel in the machine. We have seen this
system also crumble. The vey ‘proletariat’ for whose benefit the
communist philosophy was supposed to have taken birth, rose in
revolt against it, because the individual, his aspiration and values
were lost sight of. For Gandhiji “No society can be built on a
denial of individual freedom.”
Gandhiji suggested the third alternative, the ‘Sarvodaya’ social order, which believes
“that every individual has a personality which when properly
developed, has a contribution to make to society.” In the economic
field “decentralized commodity production ensures the producer the
product of his labour.” Where the producer is ensured of the fruits
of his labour, there is no exploitation and there is no violence.
MASS PRODUCTION OR PRODUCTION BY MASSSES: Mere production does not contribute to rise
in the standard of consumption, which is supposed to indicate the
standard of living. What is produced has to be consumed and for
consuming, the people require the purchasing power. Purchasing power
cannot be distributed either as doles or by emergency programmers
like laying roads or building dams. The only effective means of
distributing purchasing power is to provide productive employment to
all people universally. If the stress is on mass production and not
on production by the masses and for the masses there won’t be
consumption and in its absence there con not be further production.
If the economy has to be healthy the chain of
“production-consumption-production” should remain unbroken.
Consumption us said to be the mother or production. Students of
economies read about the “Great Depression of 1930” its cause,
effects and cure. Our production pattern should have a built-in
system of providing universal employment side be side with
production so that larger number of people gets the purchasing power
to purchase what is produced. The only alternative that answers this
requirement is the labour intensive decentralized production.
2. Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari also said the same thing in different words. “You
can not distribute wealth after producing it. You won’t succeed in
getting neb to agree to it. But you can produce wealth so as to
secure equitable distribution before producing it”
3. Gandhiji conceived Khadi Programme as a key to solve the economic problems of
the country. According to him “ Its’one great merit is that it
solves, as nothing else cab, the economic problem of Indian and
removes starvation” (collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume
23:45859). In the year 1925 he wrote in Young India “If we want the
millions to earn a few paises by doing honest and honorable work,
the only possible instrument to present them with, in our country,
is the gentle and graceful spinning wheel.”
By advocating spinning wheel, one should not think that Gandhiji was against
machines. But he asserted and said “that to produce cloth, which is
our basic need, in mills is an economic blunder of the first
magnitude just as it would be to supply cheap bread through huge
bakeries established in big cities and to destroy the family stove.”
He also associated Khadi with his unique concepts of peace,
non-violence, trust and self sufficiency. With the all pervading
inspiration given by Gandhiji, Khadi not only prospered but also
became the livery of Freedom Movement, in spite of the stiff
opposition from the alien government.
4. After we attained freedom the Union Government of free India, continued the
legacy of the freedom movement and gave support of the Khadi
programme . A statutory Khadi and village Industries Commission was
constituted at the All India Level, and State Khadi and Village
Industries Boards sprang up in each state. As a result of this all
round support, the Khadi sector could make enormous contribution to
the nation’s economy in terms of production and employment. The
annual production of Khadi has touched Rs. 350 Crores, thereby
providing employment to 13.87 lakhs of rural people.
Considering the useful contribution the Khadi Sector is making to the country’s
economy, particularly in the field of rural employment, the
Government of India thought it fit to ensure its continuation even
by subsiding its product. The selling price of Khadi is slightly
higher than that of mill made cloth because it is handspun and hand
woven. The wage component in the Khadi cloth is higher than in the
mill cloth. To ensure that Khadi is sold even though its price is
higher and at the same time to see that the buyer is not penalized
on account of this, the Government offered what we know as ‘Rebate’.
This rebate actually goes to the buyer and not to the producing
institutions. In fact the Khadi institution are actually the losers
because they allow rebate to the buyers and wait for years to get it
reimbursed by the Government.
Of late, the Government of India appears to be losing interest in the development
of Khadi Sector. This is perhaps in tune with the policy of
Liberalization, Globalization and Free Market Economy. The same
Government, which a few decades back, considered assistance to Khadi
a Justifiable necessity because of its useful contribution to the
economy and its inability to withstand the competition with mill
sector. The Government conveniently forgets of Khadi that it is had
spun and hand woven which makes it costly is an asset to the society
in as much as it results in providing employment to millions of
rural people, particularly women.
Some people question about the economic viability of Khadi. If what is meant by
the question is whether Khadi can compete in price with the mill
cloth, the answer is an emphatic ‘no’. But, this negative answer
applies to everything produced by man power applies to everything
produced by man power as against the articles produced by labour
machinery. Even goods manufactured in factories in India like cloth,
iron, sugar etc. required state aid in some form or the other. Such
being the case to expect Khadi to stand on its own legs is to ignore
its basic character and useful contribution to Indian economy. Khadi
sector employs 20 spinners, mostly woman, to produce the same
quantity of yarn which is produced by a single power operated spindle.
The extent of support the Khadi sector gets from the Government is a pittance
compared to what other Government enterprises and Multi-national
companies get in the normal course. Take for instance Maruthi Udyog.
To quote Sri Murusoli Maran, Union Minister for industries “Though
the Government’s contribution to Maruthi Udyog’s equity is half of
the Rs.133 corers, the public exchequer have already spent hundreds
of corers by way of excise concessions, customs duty relief and
sales tax waivers. It has become a monopoly company, a champion
because of state.” Suzuki of Japan has already repatriated Rs.
988.87 corers as profit over the past 12 years. In this background
let us examine the downward trend in the Government’s assistance to
Khadi sector. In the past the working fund given to khadi programme
was interest free. Now 4.5% interest is being charged on Khadi.
Earlier the Government used to give loans from plan provision. Now
plan provision has depleted and the Khadi sevtor is financed by the
consortium of banks (CBC), which expects working fund to be repaid
in installments, along with interest. This is something, which Khadi
sector cannot withstand because of provision in the cost chart. Of
late, for even the capital expenditure loan for buying charkhas and
looms the institutions are directed to go to banks under Margin
Money Scheme. Drawing funds from commercial banks is not that easy.
Evan rebate is being given reluctantly and it may stop any time.
Khadi is not mere cloth. It is a process of socio-economic reconstruction of our
society. It is linked with the welfare of millions of our rural
poor. As long as the government continues to proclaim that its
objective is the welfare of the people, it has to continue its
support to khadi Programme. Taking the contribution of khadi to the
task of employment generation into consideration, Government has to
considerate it as a priority sector and do all that is required to
keep it healthy. If any one thinks that government is doing a favour
to the Khadi Sector, by extending assistance to it, he is completely
mistaken. Khadi contributes to the welfare of the people and
therefore it is the people’s right to expect support from the
Governments. Yes, Khadi sector can forego the governments
assistance, if Government’s of certain varieties of cloth is
reserved for this Khadi sector. Further, about 50%of the cloth
required by Government departments like Hospitals & Jails may be
purchased form Khadi sector. If these positive steps are taken by
the Government, them Khadi sector can become self-supporting. But
the chances of Government taking such positive action are bleak.
The Khadi Sector is at cross roads today. It is facing a severe challenge. There is
immense scope for expansion. But it is unable to do so for want of
support. Even its existence is at stake. There are two options
before the Khadi sector.
1. To fight with the Government for getting its legitimate assistance in a democratic
and nonviolent way. This is legitimate cause; the programme is in
the interest of the country’s economy. We have a democratic
Government and it is its duty to do what is good for the people,
particularly the rural masses. But, such a step needs support of the
people. We should do all that is required to people’s support. Can we do it is the question.
2. To carry on Khadi programme as at present, that is, on a commercial basis which
means production for sale, Government’s support is essential. While
we continue our efforts to secure Governments support, we should at
the same tine try to develop Khadi on individual self sufficiency
basic that is “Swawalambi Khadi.” Even today there are people, who
spin at home and get their yarn woven for their use. There is other
who spin and get their yarn exchanged for cloth in the Khadi
Bhandars. Number of such Swavalanbi Khadi wearers should be made to multiply.
3. Thus, instead of limiting our activity to commercial Khadi as at present we should
concentrate more and more on Swavlavmbi Khadi. That means we will
continue commercial Khadi to the extent possible, with or without
Government support, and supplement it with Swavalambi Khadi.
Whither are we going?
But, are we going in the path shown by Gandhi ji is the question that each one of us
should pose our self. No, we are not going in the path shown by
Gandhi ji. It may not be wrong to say that we are going in the
opposite direction. The path we are adopting for bringing about
development in our country shows that we have ignored the
fundamental truth that the bulk of our population live in rural
India. That is why Dr. J. C. Kumarappa wrote “The trend of events
seems to be such that we shall end by hanging ourselves with scientific ropes”.
Globalization & Liberalization:
The new concepts of Globalization and Privatization being advocated by the World
Trade Organization (WTO) are not at all be beneficial to India and
to the other underdeveloped and the developing countries. By opening
up the developing countries. By opening up the markets of the poor
countries for the consumer products produced by the rich countries
which are cheaper because of the heavy subsidies and tax
concessions, the WTO is only helping the rich countries. Further all
sorts of restrictions are imposed for products of poor countries to reach the countries.
The policies adopted by the WTO which is dominated by the countries like the USA
and the Western Union Countries, are helping the rich countries to
exploit the underdeveloped and the developing countries.
These are new concepts of Globalization. Liberalization and privation are further
spoiling the people by spreading the consumer culture. Man is
getting ready to do anything to meet his consumer needs. One should
not forget that the world has enough to meet every man’s need but
not for any man’s greed. Further, the rich nations by adopting
industrialization without any control or restrictions are only
pollution the mother earth’s environment by carbon dioxide emission.
This unhealthy trend was discussed with all seriousness in the earth
summit held at Rio-de-Jenero. But the summit could mot bring about
any solution particularly because of non-cooperation by the
developed countries. The General Secretary of this Earth summit Mr.
Mourice Stong was so disappointed with the outcome that he said “we
have been the most successful species ever; we are now a species out
of control. Our very success is leading us into a dangerous future.”
If we continue to develop this consumer culture, the result will be,
as some one has warned “Everyman for himself and the devil takes the hind most.”
Growth in gross Domestic product (GDP) alone cannot bring Justice and establish a
peaceful society. What India needs is Distributive Justice and
environmental protection. Decentralized economic development is the
only means for achieving this. Centralization and exploitation are
the two sides of the same coin. Exploitation of one by the other
leads to violence and violence disturbs peace.
The living condition of the poor man living in rural India can be improved only
by adopting the policy of sustainable development or in other words
economics of decentralization which Mahatma Gandhi and J.C.
Kummarappa advocated. For achieving this they gave us the programme
of Rural Development through Khadi and Village industries.
Let us realize this before it becomes too late.
Source: Jay Jagat Mission Samachar, December 5, January 2006