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Mahatma Gandhi’s Economic Vision: Lessons For Today’s Challenges
Dr. Nitish Kumar Arya
2023-10-02
Region : South Asia, India,
Issue : Democracy,
On June 5, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution to establish the International Day of International Non-Violence on October 2. This important decision strengthened the annual observation of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary as one day to celebrate its non-violent struggle for freedom and justice. International Day, celebrated on October 2 every year, holds a special place on the global calendar. On the occasion of Gandhi Jayati 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi started the Swachh Bharat Mission.
Mahatma Gandhi’s economic views are relevant in the current scenario for many reasons. While Mahatma Gandhi lived and worked many years ago, his ideas and principles continue to provide valuable insight and guidance in addressing contemporary economic challenges. Here are some of the major aspects of Gandhi’s economic views and his relevance to contemporary economic issues:

Self-reliance (Swadeshi):
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Gandhi advocated self-reliance and promoting localized goods and services. This idea is particularly relevant in the context of globalization and needs to strengthen local economies. Emphasizing self-sufficiency can help reduce dependence on foreign goods and promote domestic industries, which is important for economic flexibility. The Government of India, also assuming this, started the Make in India campaign and promotes it firmly.

Sustainability:
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Gandhi emphasized the importance of sustainable development and the need for the coordination of economic development with environmental protection. In today’s world, as we face suppressing environmental issues such as climate change and lack of resources, Gandhi’s attention to stability provides valuable guidance for policymakers and businesses. On the occasion of Gandhi Jayati 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi started the Swachh Bharat Mission. The purpose of the Swachh Bharat Mission is to eliminate open defecation, improve solid waste management, and create open defecation-free (ODF) villages. The objectives of the mission include the elimination of hand-scavenging practices, creating awareness and changing behavior in relation to hygiene practices, and increasing capacity at the local level.

Decentralization:
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Gandhi believed in economic power and decentralization of resources, which was in favor of local self-sufficiency under centralized control. This concept can be applied to modern economic systems to empower local communities, reduce income inequality, and promote inclusive growth.

Non-violence and moral economics:
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Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence extends to economic activities. Their confidence in moral economic practices, fair wages, and justified distribution of money aligns with the principles of responsible capitalism and corporate social responsibility, which are gaining importance in contemporary business practices.

Minimalism and Simplicity:
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Gandhi promoted a simple and minimal lifestyle, emphasizing the idea that “is good as a sufficient feast.” In today’s world of consumerism and overgrowth, their call for simplicity can serve as an imbalance, encourage arbitrary consumption, and reduce the negative effects of excessive consumerism on the environment.

Community and Social Capital:
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Gandhi emphasized the importance of community and social capital as essential elements of economic development. In the current scenario, promoting strong social networks, community engagement, and social harmony can increase economic flexibility and welfare.
Rural Development:
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Gandhi focused on rural development and the upliftment of rural communities. In many countries, rural areas still face economic challenges, and Gandhi’s ideas about rural self-reliance and development can be implemented to resolve these issues.

Inclusivity:
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Gandhi advocated involving all members of society in economic progress, regardless of their social or economic status. This idea is highly relevant today, as addressing income inequality and ensuring economic inclusion have become important policy goals in many countries.
Gandhi’s core ideas of self-reliance, sustainability, decentralization, and ethical economics can offer helpful insights and guidance for addressing today’s economic challenges and creating more equitable and sustainable economies. While Gandhi’s economic philosophy may need to be modified to fit the complexities of the modern global economy, this may be necessary. Apart from this, the main crux of Gandhi’s thought, peace and non-violence, has become more relevant in today’s era of global unrest and war.

Dr. Nitish Kumar Arya
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Dr. Nitish Kumar Arya is an Assistant Professor in the School of Liberal Arts at IMS Unison University. He is working in Public Economics with a special focus on contemporary economic issues.
This article originally appeared in Eurasia Review
The views expressed above belong to the author(s)

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