Oct 3, 2011

Gandhi Jayanti

Dry day has come and gone, the movie Gandhi has been telecast dutifully in one channel or the other, a few statues have been garlanded in another year of remembering Gandhi.

There is a wide range of criticisms against Gandhi - from those with potentially devious intentions, to the ridiculous, to the high intellectual. We are probably the only nation with such wide spread disrespect for the so called Father of the Nation.

I have in the past quite vociferously commented about some of his practices yet I am much stuck by the importance of some of his writings in today's world. A very interesting documentary on "How Cuba survived peak oil"  brought it home further. In the documentary they talk about the hardships Cuba underwent after the fall of the Soviet Union, but most importantly the shift in Cuba's thinking from highly industrialized, import/oil dependence to small community based self reliance. And I kept thinking about Gandhi's vision for the village republic. Granted, his was too idealistic a view, but the Cuba situation seems to show the validity of his arguments.

In this petrol guzzling, big company driven, consumerist age, as we collectively realize [er.., some of us at least] the colossal harm we are causing the environment and to our health, Gandhi's views seem more relevant. He was not backward  insisting every ancient tradition is great, nor was he opposed to modern tools that can be used as long as the fundamental characteristic of non exploitation is maintained. Non exploitation need not be limited to human beings, it can be extended to every living breathing thing, the resources, the very earth. He simply believed in the power and sustainability of small community based production, his famous quote saying it all - "not mass production, but production by the masses".

How relevant when you think of that Washington Apple that seems to have found its way to the neighborhood store and the cost that went into its production - not just the economics, but the cost to the earth.

It is worth taking a few minutes to read a few letters or essays he has written on the subject. 

October 03, 2011