Gandhiji's life, ideas and work are of crucial importance to all those who want a better life for humankind. The political map of the world has changed dramatically since his time, the economic
scenario has witnessed unleashing of some disturbing forces, and the social set-up has undergone a tremendous change. The importance of moral and ethical issues raised by him, however, remain central to the future of individuals and nations. Today we need him, more than before.
Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya has been spreading information about Gandhiji's life and work. A series of booklets presenting Gandhiji's views on some important topics is planned to disseminate information as well as to stimulate questions among students, scholars, social activists and concerned citizens. We thank Government of India, Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Department of Culture, for their support.
President Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya
Hon. Secretary Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya
6Ih April 2002
Gandhiji firmly believed that self-reliant villages form a sound basis for a just, equitable and non-violent order. This can be a guiding principle for all citizens, constructive workers and policy makers in India.
After returning from South Africa Gandhiji developed his ideas on villages from his direct experiences. He was convinced that
"If the villages perish, India will perish too. It will be no more India. Her own mission in the world will get lost."1
For him rebuilding of the nation could be achieved only by reconstructing villages. He himself initiated such efforts at certain places like Champaran (1917), Sevagram (1920) and Wardha (1938).
With the passage of time, he visualised an elaborate programme of constructive work, which included economic self-reliance, social equality and decentralized political system.
Gandhiji wanted to rebuild India from the lowest level with the poorest and the weakest. So he gave a call to the people to go back to villages for village reconstruction. He had visualized self-reliant villages, free from exploitation and fear, as an important part of the decentralized system. According to him, life will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose centre will be the individual always ready to perish for the village, the latter ready to perish for the circle of villages, till at last the whole becomes one life composed of individuals, never aggressive in their arrogance but ever humble, sharing the majesty of the oceanic circle of which they are integral units.2
Now is the time to listen to Gandhiji's voice carefully, which says,
"We are inheritors of a rural civilization. The vastness of our country, the vastness of the population, the situation and the climate of the country have, in my opinion, destined it for a rural civilization... To uproot it and substitute for it an urban civilization seems to me an impossibility."3