After years of reading mundane articles about “why Gandhi is still relevant today” every 2nd October, I decided to do something ‘un’-revolutionary. I had the idea of recreating one such monstrosity but with a little bit of credible research. I think it is only appropriate that I mention the source of my credible research now. “Gandhian Economic Thought by Dr. J. C. Kumarappa” which would be my main reference point throughout the article. You may ask why this book is relevant? A simple Google search is enough to provide you all the answers. J. C. Kumarappa was an Indian economist and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi.
By now you can guess, like every other event of 2020, my article idea took a turn for the worst. I found myself in a rare moment of absolute strongest disregard for a theory. Welcome to an attempt to organize my eternal rant about why 2020 is the year we let the Gandhian economic theory rest in peace! Hope you are ready for the hot take.
I am not going to mention the sexist tone of the book which can be classified as a formal disaster. As, even in critical judgment, we must take into account the limitations imposed by different time frames.
From the first page, I was truly taken aback by the villainization of the producers in a market economy. The later descriptions in the book sound like a caricaturist view of industries. It deems them as purely inhumane evil forces that have no consideration of qualities, standards, and society. And in the same breath, presents the alternative of multi-organization cooperatives. However, due to ambiguous reasons, such cooperatives are untouchable from the evils of corruption and have the ability to provide proportionate justice.
There is also an insane amount of misplaced anger. Years of suffering from colonial exploitation led this school of thought to the conclusion that the inherent nature of technological advancement was violent. This tendency of hatred pushes the narrative towards essentially hollow arguments. For instance, they consider the advent of vacuum cleaners as disadvantageous because it took away the job of old ladies who used to do the cleaning in the early years of Britain. For not even once, they thought of considering the establishment of institutional safety nets for such a vulnerable population.
It establishes various narratives to equate convenience to laziness. Imagine their horror, if they came to know that I was able to write this article because of technology that saves manual labor. I think in hindsight they could have realized that today’s technology is more accessible, more in sync with the values of “satyagraha, nonviolence and swaraj”.
All the ideologies from this school have stemmed from a sense of nostalgia. They are bewitched by the idea of the ‘good ole days’, so much so, that they forget to look ahead. “The boys’ education must be coordinated to their own life” a verbatim example from the books provides us a limpid idea of their isolation. They lack perspicacity which is evident in their consideration that Japan will disappear from the earth as a big power. It lacks logical principles like correlation is not causation.
This brings me to my final point that in our convoluted ideas, we fail to recognize the dystopian reality of our utopia. There is a reason why there is no place like heaven on earth!