ARTICLES : Relevence of Gandhi

Read articles written by very well-known personalities and eminent authors about their views on Gandhi, Gandhi's works, Gandhian philosophy and it's relevance today.

Gandhi Meditating


Relevance of Gandhi

  1. Gandhi is Alive and Still Relevant
  2. Taking up Sarvodaya As Our Duty
  3. Gandhi Will Live On
  4. Mahatma Gandhi Today
  5. The Influence of Mahatma Gandhi
  6. Gandhi's Message and His Movement 50 Years Later
  7. The Relevance of Gandhi
  8. Good Bye Mr. Gandhi- Awaken Thy Moral Courage
  9. Relevance of Gandhian Ideals In The Scheme of Value Education
  10. Gandhi And The Twenty First Century Gandhian Approach To Rural Industrialization
  11. Gandhi's Role And Relevance In Conflict Resolution
  12. Gandhi In Globalised Context
  13. The Gandhian Alternatives And The Challenges of The New Millennium
  14. Gandhian Concept For The Twenty First Century
  15. Champions of Nonviolence
  16. Science And Technology In India: What Can We Learn From Gandhi?
  17. Passage From India: How Westerners Rewrote Gandhi's Message
  18. Time To Embark On A Path To New Freedom
  19. Increasing Relevance of The Mahatma
  20. Gandhi's Challenge Now
  21. The Legacy of Gandhi In The Wider World
  22. Quintessence of Gandhiji's Thought
  23. Recalling Gandhi
  24. Mohandas Gandhi Today
  25. The Relevance of Gandhian Satyagraha in 21st Century
  26. Relevance of Non-Violence & Satyagraha of Gandhi Today
  27. India, Gandhi And Relevance of His Ideas In The New World
  28. Relevance of Gandhi's Ideas
  29. The Influence of Mauritius on Mahatma Gandhi
  30. Why Gandhi Still Matters
  31. The Challenge of Our Time: Building Sustainable Communities
  32. What Negroes Can Learn From Gandhi
  33. Relevance of Gandhi
  34. Towards A Non-violent, Non-killing And Peaceful World : Lessons From Gandhi
  35. Gandhian Perspective on Violence And Terrorism
  36. GANDHI - A Perennial Source of Inspiration
  37. An Observation on Neo-modern Theories of Global Culture
  38. The Techno-Gandhian Philosophy
  39. Global Peace Movement and Relevance of Gandhian View
  40. Technology : Master or Servant?
  41. Gandhis of Olive Country
  42. Gandhian Strategy
  43. The Effect of Mass Production and Consumerism
  44. Gandhi's Relevance Is Eternal And Universal
  45. Service To Humanity
  46. Relevance of Gandhi: A View From New York
  47. Gandhi And Contemporary Social Sciences
  48. India After The Mahatma
  49. Pax Gandhiana : Is Gandhian Non-Violence Compatible With The Coercive State?
  50. GANDHI : Rethinking The Possibility of Non-Violence
  51. Aung San Suu Kyi : In Gandhi's Footsteps
  52. Gandhi: Call of The Epoch
  53. Localization And Globalization
  54. Significance of Gandhi And Gandhism
  55. Understanding GANDHI
  56. Gandhi, Peace And Non-violence For Survival of Humanity

Further Reading

(Complete Book available online)
  1. Why Did Gandhi Fail?
    from GANDHI - His Relevance For Our Times
  2. Gandhi's Political Significance Today
    from GANDHI - His Relevance For Our Times
  3. India Yet Must Show The Way
    from GANDHI - His Relevance For Our Times
  4. The Essence of Gandhi
    from GANDHI - His Relevance For Our Times
  5. The Impact of Gandhi on U. S. Peace Movement
    from GANDHI - His Relevance For Our Times

Gandhian Trusteeship As An Instrument of Human Dignity

By Y. Kesavulu

Gandhi's economic ideas were part of his general crusade against poverty, exploitation against socio-economic injustice, and deteriorating moral standards. Gandhi was an economist of the masses. His approach was rooted in human dignity. His economic philosophy is a result of innumerable experiments which he conducted in the course of his life. His pragmatic approach gave a new direction to the existing socio-economic problems in the process of protecting human dignity.
The fluid international conditions fraught with ideological tensions in the economic domain demanded a fresh approach to economic philosophy, with emphasis on the ideals of human rights like democracy, economic freedom, and social justice. Gandhism as a socio­economic philosophy suits not only to accomplish the higher ideals of democratic freedom and socialism but it was also thoroughly developed to meet the challenge of national and international forces of communism and capitalism.
The core of Gandhian economic thought is the protection of the dignity of human person and not mere material prosperity. He aimed at the development, upliftment, and enrichment of human life rather than a higher standard of living with scant respect for human and social values. Fundamental ethical values dominated his economic ideas. He wanted to liberate the modern economic philosophy from the quagmire of materialism and bring it to a higher spiritual plane. Human actions were motivated by social objectives of the protection of human rights.
Gandhi's efforts towards "spiritualizing economics" are truly reflected in his concept of trusteeship. He based his doctrine of trusteeship on the first sloka of Isopanisad, according to which one is asked to dedicate everything to God and then use it only to the required extent. The principal condition laid down in it is that one must not covet what belongs to others. In other words, in the first instance, everything must be surrendered to God and then out of it one may use only that which is necessary for the service of God's creation, according to one's strict needs. This makes it clear beyond doubt that it is not in industrial and business sectors only that the doctrine of trusteeship is to be made applicable. The spirit of this doctrine is detachment and service. Unless these two virtues are inculcated, it is impossible to obey the command "covet not anybody's riches." Therefore Gandhi's idea of trusteeship arose from his faith in the law of non-possession. It was founded on his religious belief that everything belonged to God and was from God. Therefore the bounties of the world were for His people, as a whole, not for any particular individual. When an individual had more than his respective portion, he became a trustee of that portion for God's people. God who is all-powerful has no need to store. He creates things afresh everyday. Therefore man should also live his life from day to day without trying to store things for the future. If this principle was imbibed by people in general, it would have become legalised and trusteeship would have become a legalised institution. Gandhi wished it became a gift from India to the world (Harijan, 23 February 1947).
Basically Gandhi suggested this doctrine as an answer to the economic inequalities of ownership and income―a kind of nonviolent way of resolving all social and economic conflicts which grew out of inequalities and privileges of the present social order. Gandhi never ceased to believe in trusteeship in theory from the beginning or, at any rate, towards the later part of life, though the method was proving ineffective. He believed in the indispensability of nonviolence, non­co-operation and Satyagraha in converting the privileged classes into trustees. He even advocated violence as a last resort to dispossess property-owners of their wealth. Therefore man's dignity, and not his material prosperity, is the centre of Gandhian economics. Gandhian economics aims at a distribution of material prosperity keeping only human dignity in view. Thus it is dominated more by moral values than by economic ideas. According to Gandhi, trusteeship is the only ground on which he can work out an ideal combination of economics and morals. In concrete form, the trusteeship formula reads as follows:

  1. Trusteeship provides a means of transforming the present capitalist order of society into an egalitarian one. It gives no quarter to capitalism, but gives the present owning class a chance to reform itself. It is based on the faith that human nature is never beyond redemption.
  2. It does not recognise any right of private ownership of property except so far as it may be permitted by society for its own welfare.
  3. It does not exclude legislation of the ownership and use of wealth.
  4. Thus under state regulated trusteeship, an individual will not be free to hold or use his wealth for selfish satisfaction in disregard to the interests of society.
  5. Just as it is proposed to give a decent minimum living wage, a limit should be fixed for the maximum income that would be allowed to any person in society. The difference between such minimum and maximum incomes should be reasonable and equitable and variable from time to time, so much so that the tenancy would be towards the obliteration of the difference.
  6. Under the Gandhian economic order, the character of production will be determined by social necessity and not by personal greed.

The theory of trusteeship applies equally to both tangible and intangible property, "such as the muscular energy of the labourers and the talents of a Helen Keller" (K. G. Mashurwala, Gandhi and Marx, Navajivan Trust, Ahmedabad, 1951, p. 79). According to Gandhi, all property belongs to God and in his concept of trusteeship the trustees have no right to destroy that property deliberately and wantonly. Besides, trusteeship aims at the rising of the morale of the people by giving them a sense of security in the hands of the trustees. The trustees, in their turn, are beholden to creating an urge among the masses for a higher standard of life.
As man advances from a narrow sphere of personal satisfaction to the nobler concept of the welfare of all, he marches closer towards self-realization. The whole idea of possessing wealth only to guard it from being misused and to distribute it equitably aims at protecting human dignity. If it is possessed for any other objective, it is objectionable on moral grounds. Gandhi enjoins this moral obligation on the part of the trustees as he is fully aware of the ills of capitalism which widen the gap between the rich and the poor.
The Gandhian theory of trusteeship departs significantly from Marxian economic philosophy too. If Marxism is the child of the Industrial Revolution, Gandhian theory can be understood only in the context of certain basic spiritual values of the Indian tradition. Marxian socialism aims at the destruction of the class called capitalists, whereas the Gandhian approach is not to destroy the institution, but to reform it. Gandhian socialism, being ethical, is different from Marxian socialism. Man, to him, is an ethical being first and a social being later.
The most significant difference between Marxian socialism and Gandhian socialism lies in the method they recommend to achieve it. Whereas Marxian socialism harps on violence, Gandhian socialism aims at a change of heart on the part of the rich. There is no place for violence, but only trust. The common man trusts his trustee and the latter plays the role of a custodian. Thus Gandhian socialism radically departs from both capitalism and socialism; it is trusteeship socialism. Though this kind of socialism is difficult to achieve, Gandhi advocated it as he believed in the basic strength of the goodness of man and the value of morals. All other "isms" address the problem superficially, whereas trusteeship strikes it at the root.
Gandhi wanted Zamindars to act as trustees of their lands and allow them to be used by tenants. This idea was based mainly upon the fact that India is an agricultural country where more than 80 percent of the population lives in villages. By providing them trust land, Gandhi was solving one of the major economic problems of an independent India to be. In the socialist collective agricultural system, we find the same idea implemented. The success of this system in certain countries shows that the concept is not impracticable at all. The failure of this system is often attributed to the will of the people. But a more sound reason seems to be the force that was being applied while putting this system into practice.
At the centre of this concept is the urge to protect human dignity. They are, broadly speaking, the demands or desires of the modern man. The revolutions that are raised from time to time in different countries are motivated by the same objectives of human dignity, justice, and equity. It is very clear that the idea is relevant today as it aims at the social, economic, and political changes in the world. One of the first steps to achieve this human dignity, justice, and equity is to eliminate the ever-present troublesome element of class struggle in the society. Though the Gandhian concept of trusteeship does not seek to destroy any particular class, it provides us with an idea of how to narrow the class gap. The practice of all the democratic nations has been to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor to a minimum. In India we find this motive behind our cooperative policies, the community development projects, and the taxation policy that heavily taxes the upper class and gives some relief to the lower strata of society. We find the manifestations of the Gandhian concept of trusteeship in these policies.

Source: Gandhi Marg, Vol. 25, No. 4, Jan-March, 2004