The relevance of Gandhi’s legacy for solving modern India’s socio-economic problems: Addressing the needs of peasants, labourers, students and tribals

The slogan today is no longer merely ‘Asia for the Asians’ or ‘Africa for the Africans’ but the unity of all the oppressed races of the earth.” – Mahatma Gandhi addressing two stalwarts of the struggle struggle in South Africa against apartheid), quoted by Vinay Lal in The Solidarity of Oppressed Peoples: A Tribute to E S Reddy, Anti-Apartheid Activist >>

IS there such a thing as Gandhi’s legacy?
For fifty years we have enshrined him. We must now enfranchise him again.

by Gopalkrishna Gandhi [1997]

IS there such a thing as Gandhi’s legacy?
There is, well, the name; a legacy for some. Legacy of a kind. […]

HOW is that Gandhi, that Gandhi legacy, to be regenerated? Not by holding drowsy seminars on ‘Gandhi’s relevance’, certainly not by re-enactments of his marches that turn into picnics. Rather by spotting injustice and iniquity and tackling them through means available to us, but without personal agendas.

Gandhi’s legacy needs to be retrieved from that political studio and returned to the people. Returned to his great electrifying link among the people where his legacy can and does work – namelessly. By setting up or supporting others’ initiatives similarly engaged. And there are ever so many initiatives in India, so many causes where his legacy is alive. Where it works.

As where Sushila Nayar, in her great age, takes a band of satyagrahis to Ayodhya and they are “allowed” to sing Raghupati Raghava by the kar sevaks until the lines “Isvara Allah Tere Naam” are reached; then the blows begin to rain. As where Anand Patwardhan makes the brave film Ram Ke Naam. And where films like Kaise Jeebo Re? are made telling us about tribal people flooded out of home and hearth by the Narmada project. Where Baba Amte and Medha Patkar agitate for these oustees, where Aruna Roy demands to know how government moneys are being spent, where Sunderlal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt show what trees and mountains mean, where Subhashini Ali pickets the Miss World contest in Bangalore, where women in Andhra organise against liquor-shops, where processions are taken out on the subject of child abuse, where Sheela Barse rescues the girl-child from her captors, where Swami Agnivesh campaigns for bandhua-mukti, where P. Sainath can raise a fist on behalf of rural poverty, where Anna Hazare fasts to make the corrupt resign their high offices, where the District Collector of Surat rids that city of its dirt. And where India and Bangladesh agree to sharing the Ganga waters equitably.

I am not suggesting that India erupt in agitation; far from it. Only, that Indians become less smug, less self-absorbed. If we lack the time to think of causes beyond ourselves it is because our time is misapplied, not because it is short. Gandhi was never short of time. Either to write, or to wrestle.

He wrote on May 12, 1920 in Young India something that needs to be better known: “…if I seem to take part in politics, it is only because politics encircles us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out, no matter how much one tries. I wish, therefore, to wrestle with the snake as I have been doing…”

There he is not boring. He is crucial. There he is not a mascot, not a logo. There he is a legacy.

Source: Gopalkrishna Gandhi in “Gandhi’s legacy”, Frontline, (India’s National Magazine), Vol. 14 :: No. 16 :: Aug. 9-22, 1997
Date Visited: Sat Jun 25 2011 02:08:02 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Forbes, India and Pandora’s Pandemic Box”
by P. Sainath [2021]
In a year GDP contracted 7.7 per cent, and as we brace for another round of ‘reverse’ migrations, and as the farmers wait unheeded at the gates of Delhi, Indian billionaires reached record levels of wealth. […]

The ranks of Indian Dollar Billionaires swelled from 102 to 140 in 12 months, if the Forbes 2021 List is to be believed […]

Many newspapers simply carried (or modified) a Press Trust of India report that does not anywhere make the juxtapositions or connections that the Forbes story does. The words covid or coronavirus or pandemic are absent in the PTI story. Nor does it, or any other story, emphasise as the Forbes report does, that “Two of the ten richest Indians get their wealth from healthcare, a sector that’s enjoying a pandemic boost around the world.” The word ‘healthcare’ does not appear in the PTI report or most other stories. Even though Forbes places 24 of our 140 dollar billionaires in the ‘healthcare’ industry. […]

I think it’s fair to say we showed the rest of the world its place. Er…we were shown our place too, on the UN Human Development Index – rank 131 in 189 countries. With El Salvador, Tajikistan, Cabo Verde, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bhutan and Namibia all ahead of us. I guess we must await the results of a high-level probe into an obvious global conspiracy to shove us down a rung compared to the previous year. Watch this space.

Source: “Forbes, India and Pandora’s Pandemic Box” by P. Sainath (16 April 2021)
Date visited: 26 July 2021

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Image © PARI People’s Archive of Rural India reporting on Covid-19 >>
Related posts: how India’s tribal communities cope with the pandemic >>

Covering the human cost of Covid-19
The nationwide Covid-19 lockdown that started on March 25 [2020] has triggered distress for millions of ordinary Indians – stranded migrant workers, farmers, sugarcane cutters, Adivasis, Dalits, sanitation workers, construction labourers, cancer patients staying on city pavements, brick kiln labourers, pastoral nomads, and others. While many are on the brink with no work, income or food, several continue to work amid extremely hazardous conditions | Read about them in these PARI reports from across the country >>

Mahatma Gandhi is our nation’s most misunderstood leader
by Sulogna Mehta

As the head of the department of social works and the Gandhian Studies Centre in Andhra University, 55-year-old Prof ABSV Ranga Rao is actively involved in several social projects. The die-hard Gandhian, along with his band of research scholars and students, works in collaboration with various government departments to eradicate social evils such as child marriage, child labour, human trafficking, problems of orphans, among others. In a chat with Sulogna Mehta of TOI, Prof Ranga Rao talks about the relevance of Gandhi in today’s world, the popularity of social work as a field of higher studies and its future in the city. […]

How relevant is Gandhi’s approach to socio-economic problems today?
Gandhi was a political visionary, economist and pragmatist and most of his programmes are relevant even today. Some of the constructive programmes designed by him are still very much in use by the government or are still being implemented through national rural employment and health schemes even after 60 years of his demise. These include promoting village industries or micro enterprises for generation of local employment, village sanitation, education in health and hygiene, sustainable development, ecological conservation, addressing alcohol-related problems, promotion of provincial and national languages, basic and adult education, emancipation of women, addressing the needs of peasants, labourers, students and tribals and so on. He focused on health issues like leprosy. A practical person like him would have taken up HIV/AIDS had he lived now, since controlling leprosy is no longer a major challenge. He believed in grassroots democracy, decentralisation of power, panchayat administration, which are still in vogue. […]

What areas has the department of social work worked on?
Our faculty and research scholars have done work on various social issues including child marriage, child labour, human trafficking, family problems, single parent families, divorce, ageing, single women, juvenile homes, self-help groups, HIV/AIDS orphans and so on. We work in collaboration with NGOs, the police, women and child welfare, tribal and labour department to stall illegal and evil practices prevalent in society. […]

Source: ‘Mahatma Gandhi is our nation’s most misunderstood leader’ by Sulogna Mehta – The Times of India, 15 July 2013
Address :
Date Visited: 27 July 2021

Note: for official figures include “scheduled tribe ST” along with a union state or region, e.g. “Chhattisgarh ST community”, “Scheduled tribe Tamil Nadu census”, “ST Kerala census”, “Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group Jharkhand”, “PVTG Rajasthan”, “Adivasi ST Kerala”, “Adibasi ST West Bengal” etc.

List of Indian periodicals and sites covered by the present Custom search engine

Suggest another Indian periodical for inclusion here >>

Disclaimer: links and quotes found on this website are for information purposes only. We cannot assume liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided on the linked websites and distance ourselves from any illegal or offensive contents.

Tip: for more information, type “Gopalkrishna Gandhi”, “Gandhi tribal welfare“, “Gandhi tribe progress” or similar search terms into the above custom search window | List of periodicals included >>

Research the above issues with the help of Shodhganga: A reservoir of theses from universities all over India, made available under Open Access >>

Related posts