Gandhian Economic Thought
Gandhian economic thought starts with his work µHind Swaraj¶ where he has criticizedthe current western civilization and its economic model of industrialization andconsumerism. Gandhi speaks against some fundamental concepts of modern westerneconomic thought: Industrial Capitalism and Rationalist Materialism.In Chapter 6 of
he criticizes the modern industrial societies of Europe. Hetalks about the pathetic industrial working conditions, crowded cities, craze for wealth,decaying moral and physical strength of people and obsession with mechanization. Hecall this kind of civilization as µirreligious¶. This economic model is not worth emulationby India. In Chapter 9 he speaks about Railways have increased the mobility of evil anddishonest people rather than actually spreading goodness. It has also helped the Britishto consolidate their rule over India, and exploit it efficiently by exporting raw materialsand spreading their goods far and wide into India. This has also destroyed domesticartisans as they are unable to cope with cheap British imports. He denounces lawyersand doctors in the same vein.Gandhi eulogizes ancient Indian way of life, which had µDharma¶ at its core. He says,
µCivilization is that mode of conduct which points out to man the path of duty.¶ (HS Chap13, 3
He says that human wants are unlimited and it is futile to design an economic structurewhich focuses on satisfaction of human wants. Ancient Indian society was based onlimiting one¶s wants. People understood that happiness is largely a state of mind. Andno amount of luxuries can truly satisfy anyone. So they set limitations on indulgencesand pleasures. Since people were happy with whatever they had, the society did notfeel the need to change. A stable system of fixed wages and occupations was followed.People also understood the harms of living in large cities and developing machines, soconsciously they decided against them. He returns to the question of machines onceagain in Chapter 19.