How Much Gandhi is Relevant Today?
The point of departure of his life philosophy and the basis of his theory and activity in practice are freedom and welfare of any human being and prosperity of peoples and nations of the whole mankind. Non-violence is the elementary and indispensable condition for the materialization of these noble goals. Today, largely due to the work of Mahatma Gandhi, India has its political independence and the work of building that greater freedom which he set in train in continuing by non-violent workers all around India.
But Gandhiji himself had altered his successors that they would face a more daunting journey on the road to the betterment of the people of India, than he himself had done. His 50 years struggle for national independence reached a culmination in August , but he could see that national independence of India was really only the first step towards ultimate goal-equality of opportunity for all through non-violent action. That is the reason why Gandhi represents today not only the collective conscience of India, but also the collective conscience of all humanity.
My claim is that Mahatma Gandhi remains a relevant thinker today because of his theory and practice of non-violence, but also because of the way he defended all his life political tolerance and religious pluralism. Nothing about his defence is doctrinaire or a prior. Everything he claims about the importance of individual autonomy and political freedom, for human life, for modern living, is tested by experience. More than two hundred years ago, in , I.
Therefore, Gandhi was able to articulate a fundamental change-taking place in Indian but also modern understanding which still gives his philosophy contemporary relevance. Nevertheless, Gandhi was not a system builder. He was essentially a pathfinder towards social and individual goals. It is simply a critical view, which tells us what we need to do in order to go forward in the path of metaphysical humanism.
Is Mahatma Gandhi still inspires today's youth
Gandhi tells us to proceed with clear conceptual thinking and skepticism of the facts. Therefore, according to him, we must never fail to seek knowledge and enlightenment, never give up the virtues of common sense, civility, justice and non-violence. Therefore, a sense of balance and proportion of what fits when and where is crucial to the theory he enjoins us to practice. Nevertheless, for Gandhi pure rationalism was neither scientific, nor human. Religion for Gandhi is identified with ethics rather than theology.
It would be totally unfair to judge and analyze Gandhi through some absolutist concepts and ideas. Gandhi was in fact a stern defender of the role of law, and advocate of fundamental human rights, a critic of all forms of political action based on violence and intolerance and a fervent of limited government. I think it would be the worst distortion of Gandhi to say that he was close to any of these political philosophers. In the same way, Gandhi belongs to none of the three ideological options which are available for us today. I think Gandhi belongs to neither of these three main visions influential at present.
He is not a religious fundamentalist. For means he advocated non-violent means.
He did not believe in merely preaching but did what he said. He was a man of practice. He believed in decentralization of polity and economy. The power should move from downwards to-upwards. His emphasis was on rural development and small scale industries. He believed in basic education and all round development of personalities. He was a critic of modern civilizations and called it to be nine days wonder. He stood for Hindu-Muslim unity and gave his life for communal harmony.
His relevance can be seen in the present context of prevailing conditions in India. What are the present conditions? On the political front criminals are entering the polity in large numbers. As a result criminalization of politics is increasing. Violent means and other unfair means are employed to get power which is really threatening the democratic processes. Our democracy is becoming weak. Caste and regional factors are dominating our political processes.
Secular polity is at stake. According to Gandhi, religion and politics should not be separated.
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Religion should play a role in politics for moral ends and not for communal politics to secure vote banks. Politicians should be men of character and emphasise on public morality. If public morality is practiced, no politician will be corrupt and hence they can serve the people in a better way with integrity and commitment. Since Independence our polity became centralized. It affected the federal nature of our political system.
It also resulted in emergence of regional problems, e. As a natural corollary to this, many regional parties cropped up. Gandhi had a solution to this problem also. Local people know their problems better and can solve their problems with local resources and local approach. Similar on the economic front, economic development through various five year plans could not eradicate poverty and improve the quality of life of the people.
The gap between rich and poor widened. The conditions of poor went on becoming miserable. The dream of Gandhi of wiping tears form every eye could not be fulfilled. The element of Swadeshi was neglected and we fell prey to the domination of foreign economic powers for our economic development. The condition is such that sometimes we import foodgrains to feed our people.
In recent times, we have come back to Gandhian ideas on pooling our own resources, strengthening small scale industries and agricultural development to become self reliant with equity. Until the distribution of resources is done in an equitable manner, we will be far from egalitarian society which is the root cause for mounting social tensions. The culture of consumerism has to be discouraged. The increase of consumerism is a sign of greedy society which we are imitating from the West.
Gandhi was vehement critic of this greedy society which causes alienation and make people dehumanised. Gandhi was a true humanist. Divisive trends are increasing in our society.
The caste and religious identities are asserting which can pose real threat to our unity and integrity. These tendencies need to be checked and curbed.
The gap between rich and poor need to be lessened. The degeneration of values is rampant which have made the people corrupt. Social tensions have been increasingly manifesting in communal and caste riots. Various social ills are still intact.
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