Village Swaraj

Chapter-11: Self-sufficiency and Co-operation

Truth and non-violence form the foundation of the order of my conception. Our first duty is that we should not be a burden on society, i.e., we should be self-dependent. From this point of view self-sufficiency itself is a kind of service. After becoming self-sufficient we shall use our spare time for the service of others. If all become self-sufficient none will be in trouble. In such a state of affairs there would be no need of serving anybody. But we have not yet reached that stage and therefore we have to think of social service. Even if we succeed in realizing self-sufficiency completely, man being a social being, we will have to accept service in some form or other. That is, man is as much self-dependent as inter-dependent. When dependence becomes necessary in order to keep society in good order it is no longer dependence, but becomes co-operation. There is sweetness in co-operation; there is no one weak or strong among those who co-operate. Each is equal to the other. There is the feeling of helplessness in dependency. Members of a family are as much self-dependent as inter-dependent. There is no feeling of either mine or thine. They are all co-operators. So also when we take a society, a nation or the whole of mankind as a family all men become co-operators. If we can conceive a picture of such co-operation we shall find that there would be no need of support from the lifeless machine. Instead of making the greatest use of machinery we shall be able to do with the least use thereof and therein lies the real security and self-protection of society.

The Ideology of the Chakha, 1951, p.86-88

My idea of self-sufficiency is that villages must be self-sufficient in regard to food, cloth and other basic necessities. But even this can be overdone. Therefore you must grasp my idea properly. Self-sufficiency does not mean narrowness. To be self-sufficient is not to be altogether self-contained. In no circumstances would we be able to produce all the things we need. So though our aim is complete self-sufficiency, we shall have to get from outside the village what we cannot produce in the village; we shall have to produce more of what we can in order thereby to obtain in exchange what we are unable to produce.

H., 30-11-’35, p.333

The ideal no doubt is for every family to grow, spin, weave and wear its own cotton, just as it is for every family to own land and grow its own corn, cook and eat it.

Khadi-Why and How, 1959, p.166

As for food, India has plenty of fertile land, there is enough water and no dearth of man power. . . . The public should be educated to become self-reliant. Once they know that they have got to stand on their own legs, it would electrify the atmosphere.
India produces more cotton than she requires for her wants. People should spin and weave themselves. People should produce their own Khadi. Once the people begin to produce their own food and cloth, it would change their entire outlook.

H., 19-10-’47, p.379

Self-sufficiency is a big word. . . . Villages will be swept away, if they are not self-sufficient as to their primary wants and self-reliant as to their protection against internal disruption by dissensions and disease and external danger from thieves and dacoits. Self-sufficiency, therefore, means all the cotton processes and growing of seasonal food crops and fodder for cattle. Unless this is done there will be starvation. And self-reliance means corporate organization ensuring adjustment of internal differences through arbitration by the wise men of villages and cleanliness by corporate attention to sanitation and common diseases. No mere individual effort is going to suffice. And above all, villagers must be taught to feel their own strength by combined effort to make their villages proof against thieves and dacoits. This is best done by corporate nonviolence. But if the way to non-violence does not seem clear to workers, they will not hesitate to organize corporate defence through violence.

H., 5-4-’42, p.107

Self-sufficient Khadi will never succeed without cotton being grown by spinners themselves or practically in every village. It means decentralization of cotton cultivation so far at least as self-sufficient Khadi is concerned. For this we shall need a census of the villages served. For not every spinner or weaver has a plot (ever so tiny) of land, where he or she can grow cotton. Self-sufficient Khadi is a proposition for which alone can the existence of the A.I.S.A. be justified. It is a field as yet untouched by it on any scale worth mentioning.

H., 27-7-’35, p.188

We can but serve that part of God's creation which is nearest and best known to us. We can start with our next-door neighbour. We should not be content with keeping our courtyard clean,, we should see that our neighbour's courtyard is also clean. We may serve our family, but may not sacrifice the village for the sake of the family. Our own honour lies in the preservation of that of our own village. But we must each of us understand our own limitations. Our capacity for service is automatically limited by our knowledge of the world in which we live. But let me put it in the simplest possible language. Let us think less of ourselves than of our next-door neighbour. Dumping the refuse of our courtyard into that of our neighbour is no service of humanity, but disservice. Let us start with the service of our neighbour.

H., 22-8-’36, p.217

In regard to agriculture, we must do our utmost to prevent further fragmentation of land, and to encourage people to take to co-operative farming.

Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.162

A village may grow cotton for itself in co-operation. If this is done, it is simple enough to see that no imported cloth can beat cloth thus produced locally, either in cost or durability. The process induces the greatest conservation of energy.

H., 20-4-’35, p.80

Let us not also forget that it is man's social nature which distinguishes him from the brute creation. If it is his privilege to be independent it is equally his duty to be interdependent. Only an arrogant man will claim to be independent of everybody else and be self-contained... It will be possible to reconstruct our villages so that the villages collectively, not the villagers individually, will become self-contained, so far as their clothing requirements are concerned.

Y.I., 25-4-’29, p.135

In speaking to a co-operative society in Madras last year, I said that through hand-spinning I was trying to found the largest co-operative society known to the world. This is not an untrue claim. It may be ambitious. It is not untrue because hand-spinning cannot serve the purpose for which it is intended unless millions actually co-operate in it.
Take the working of any typical centre. At the central office is collected seed cotton for spinners. The cotton is ginned by ginners perhaps at the centres. It is distributed then among carders who redeliver it in the shape of slivers. These are now ready to be distributed among the spinners who bring their yarn from week to week and take away fresh slivers and their wages in return. The yarn thus received is given to weavers to weave and received back for sale in the shape of khaddar. This latter must now be sold to the weavers—the general public. Thus the central office has to be in constant living human touch with a very large number of people irrespective of caste, color or creed. For the centre has no dividends to make, has no exclusive care but the care of the most needy. The centre to be useful must keep itself clean in every sense of the term. The bond between it and the component parts of the vast organization is purely spiritual or moral. A spinning centre, therefore, is a co-operative society whose members are ginners, carders, spinners, weavers and buyers—all tied together by a common bond, mutual good-will and service.

Y.I., 10-6-’26, p.214

The secret of successful co-operative effort is that the members must be honest and know the great merit of co-operation and it must have a definite progressive goal. Thus holding a certain sum of money in co-operation for the sake of making more money by charging exorbitant rates of interest is a bad goal. But co-operative farming or dairying is undoubtedly a good goal promoting national interests. Such instances can be multiplied. I wonder what these numerous . . . societies are. Have they honest inspectors who know their work? It may be mentioned that such movements have often proved disastrous when management has been dishonest and the goal questionable.

H., 6-10-’46, p.344