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Relevance of Gandhian Principles in the 21st Century

  • Last Updated : 29 Nov, 2021

People still remember and cherish the person who was incredibly responsible for achieving this freedom. Often quoted, Mahatma Gandhi is remembered for his teachings. His ideas still resonate in people’s minds. However, how relevant are these ideas of non-violence and truth that give us freedom today? Mahatma Gandhi is considered the most splendid Statesman of India. His ideas and views still hold a significant position in the country’s policies and governance and underline the most humane way to resolve many of the problems that plague our society.

Born in Porbandar, Gujarat, Gandhi played a significant role in India’s struggle for freedom. His thoughts of ahimsa and truth, swadeshi and swaraj, helped India free itself from colonial rule. However, the central question is whether this policy is still relevant at present times or not. Let us compare the Gandhian policy with its present scenario.

Gandhi’s Policy Still Relevant:

1. Ahimsa:

Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of non-violence is very relevant as the world faces terrorism and other forms of violence. Mahatma Gandhi’s policy of non-violence was based on the concept of non-violence and compassion. Against colonial violence, he proposed a nonviolent response. In his view, a calm, nonviolent response reduces the attacker’s wrath and frustration and is a more potent weapon than violence. The Salt March of 1930 was one of the most famous acts of Gandhi’s peaceful resistance. In present times, the ideal of non-violence needs to guide the approach of individuals and nations, and world organizations, like violence, initiate a vicious circle of repression and injustice.

India at present faces a threat from Chinese expansionist policies, but it is Gandhi’s philosophy that is helping India not wage any China war. In the west, India constantly is facing the belligerent attitude of Pakistan, but the ahimsa policy of the country holds its respect in International forums. Still, after 74 years of Independence, Gandhi’s ahimsa policy holds ground. 

2. Satyagraha: 

Gandhiji called the general method of nonviolent action ‘Satyagraha’. It is the expression of the purest spiritual power against all injustice, oppression, and exploitation. Satyagraha was thought of as the moral alternative to war. 

Gandhi has shown us how to solve problems and conflicts from the micro to the macro level and has proved to be an effective remedy.  Many contemporary challenges related to human rights, sustainable development, climate change, socio-political unrest, war and peace, terrorism, and politico-administrative corruption can be corrected using Gandhian Ideology. The critical aspect of satyagraha is standing for truth using non-violent means, and this ideology needs to be implemented in all spheres of society.  

The farmers protesting against the Farm Law have also resorted to non-violence at present to reveal their interest in the Law passed by the Government.

3. Swaraj:

According to Mahatma Gandhi “Real Swaraj will come, not by the acquisition of authority by a few, but by the acquisition of the capacity by all to resist authority when it is abused“. Swaraj holds a significant position in today’s society. In the age of markets laden with products based on generating and gratifying instant of social approval, and when public imagination is becoming increasingly vulnerable to demagogues, the economic, social, spiritual, and political connotations of swaraj still continue to be significant.

4. Swadeshi: 

Indigenous peoples focus on political and economic action inside and outside their communities. It is the interdependence of community and self-reliance. Gandhi’s thought of swadeshi is still prevalent in our society, by taking steps towards making India self-reliant.

During the Covid times, when India was witnessing a severe economic crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat‘, the second version of Swadeshi. This swadeshi form aims to make the country self-reliant. In order to free the country from the shackles of hunger, unemployment, poverty, swadeshi is the best path to unshackle these.

5. Secularism:

Gandhism was tolerant of all religions. Today, the world needs more and more religious and intelligently tolerant people in societies where violence is perpetrated in the name of religion. In society, tolerance helps to neutralize religion, caste, ethnicity, region, etc. in the world, based on day-to-day ethnic-Centered prejudices. 

There are still different events held to inculcate the principles of secularism and equality in society. Though we witness different religion-based differences, i.e. Hindu and Muslim, it is the secularism ideology that is protecting the country from another partition.

6. Communal Harmony: 

Gandhi always made an effort for Hindu-Muslim unity. At the present time, this ideology is equally significant. If Hindus and Muslims are united, the country can reach the heights of becoming a world power. A person should always respect others’ faith. Cases of mob lynching are also violating the Gandhian ideology of communal harmony, so steps should be taken in this direction.

7. Decentralization: 

The Gandhian idea of decentralization was implemented in democracies through the 73rd and 74th amendments, which empowered local self-governments at the grassroots level. Indian Government, for instance, has implemented local self-government by adopting the Panchayati Raj and Municipality system in rural and urban areas, respectively, and providing them with some subjects under the state list. This ideology of Gandhi is still relevant and plays a vital role in India’s grass root development.

8. Cleanliness: 

Gandhi paid great attention to purity, or cleanliness and was a staunch advocate of ‘Swachhata’. He used to say, “Cleanliness hi Seva.” India’s most significant cleanliness initiative, the recently implemented Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, fulfills Bapu’s dream of making India clean.

However, this quest for purity goes beyond physical purity and requires more attention to inner purity. Therefore, for a clean India, with clean roads and toilets, we need a corruption-free society with a high degree of transparency and accountability, which is the need of the hour.

9. Sustainable Environment: 

Gandhi always spoke of minimization of wants and advocated a nature-friendly idea. Gandhi believed that “there is enough on earth for human needs but not enough for human greed.” These lines from Mahatma Gandhi show how human behavior destroys nature, and there is a need for a sustainable lifestyle in our times. 

The world revolves around global warming, climate change, and resource depletion, and all environmental covenants and sustainable development efforts must implement Gandhi’s philosophy. The recent coal crisis also compels us to follow the Gandhian philosophy of sustainable growth. Due to the increased consumption of resources like land, water, air, the carbon footprints are accelerating.

10. Women Emancipation: 

Gandhi played a vital role in bringing women out of their domestic work and involved them in public life. He was against the patriarchal form of society. With glass ceilings still far from being shattered in the public sphere, the Gandhian thought of women’s emancipation remains relevant.

Conclusion:

Gandhi’s thought was an inspiration for the society. Ultimately, all ideas and thoughts of the Mahatma were reached by him via lifelong experimentation with truths, which makes Gandhian thoughts more significant in the present era. In order to become a superpower, India should pay homage to Gandhian ideology and walk in the assigned path.

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