Into our 71st year of independence a good question to explore is whether we have attained swaraj that was envisioned for us? Many amongst us may spontaneously respond without a shadow of doubt that we have attained self rule which is what swaraj stands for. However if we dig deeper another picture emerges. For Gandhiji, the transfer of power from British hands to Indian hands was not swaraj, a mere change of government was not what he and many others had tirelessly strived for. If we turn to Hind swaraj (written in 1908) for answers, we find that the book primarily deals with two issues: (a) a critique of modern civilization, (b) the nature and structure of Indian swaraj and the means and methods to achieve it.
For Gandhiji the real challenge was to free millions of our people. And he strongly believed that the western model of growth and civilisation was not what India should aspire for. He instead presented a view of an alternative society. The core values of which he identifies as “limits to self-indulgence in terms of luxuries and pleasures, emphasis on ancestral profession, rural life, and moral control of sages over the kings, its curb on unnecessary competitiveness and its preference for small scale technologies and decentralized polity.” Gandhiji’s ideas of swaraj was criticized as being idealistic, irrelevant to the present day context and backward looking.
What if we review this idea today hundred years after it was written about, does it hold relevance for us ?
Through this issue we explore the varied nuances of swaraj, its significance today and why we need to walk that path. In his article Prakritik Swaraj Aseem Srivatsava writes about how this idea has an ancient lineage and is indigenous to India and the urgent need to recover this vision.
The interview with Sh Rajagopal,leader of the Ekta Parishad illustrates how far from being irrelevant and backward Gandhiji’s vision is what we need to embrace to deal with the multiple crisises facing the nation today.
We also share with you an introduction to Ramchandra Guha’s book Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914-1948.
We would also like to invite you to Bhoomi Utsav on 2nd October, 2018. This year we explore the deeper realms of conscious living following Gandhi’s footsteps – SWARAJ.