Mahatma Gandhi had a complete survey of the social, economical
and political condition of the majority of Indians, i.e. the rural masses
of India. Here, we give in Gandhiji?s own words the 18 Constructive
Programmes which he launched for the upliftment of India.
Complete Independence through truth and non-violence means the independence
of every unit, be it the humblest of the nation, without distinction of
race, colour or creed. This independence is never exclusive. It is, therefore,
wholly compatible with interdependence within or without. Practice will
always fall short of the theory, even as the drawn line falls short of
the theoretical line of Euclid. Therefore, complete Independence will
be complete only to the extent of our approach in practice to truth and
1) COMMUNAL UNITY
Everybody agrees about the necessity of this unity. But everybody does
not know that unity does not mean political unity which may be imposed.
It means an unbreakable heart unity. The first thing essential for achieving
such unity is for every Congress-man, whatever his religion may be, to
represent in his own person Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Zoroastrian, Jew,
etc., shortly, every Hindu and non-Hindu.
He has to feel his identity with every one of the millions
of the inhabitants of Hindustan. In order to realize this, every Congressman
will cultivate personal friendship with persons representing faiths other
than his own. He should have the same regard for the other faiths as he
has for his own.
In such a happy state of things there would be no disgraceful cry at the
stations such as ?Hindu water? and ?Muslim water?
or ?Hindu tea? and ?Muslim tea?. There would be no
separate rooms or pots for Hindus and non-Hindus in schools and colleges,
no communal schools, colleges and hospitals. The beginning of such a revolution
has to be made by Congressmen without any political motive behind the
correct conduct. Political unity will be its natural fruit.
We have long been accustomed to think that power comes only through Legislative
Assemblies. I have regarded this belief as a grave error brought about
by inertia or hypnotism. A superficial study of British history has made
us think that all power percolates to the people from parliaments.
The truth is that power resides in the people and it
is entrusted for the time being to those whom they may choose as their
representatives. Parliaments have no power or even existence independently
of the people. It has been my effort for the last twenty-one years to
convince the people of this simple truth. Civil Disobedience is the storehouse
of power. Imagine a whole people unwilling to conform to the laws of the
legislature, and prepared to suffer the consequences of non-compliance!
They will bring the whole legislative and executive machinery to a standstill.
The police and the military are of use to coerce minorities however powerful
they may be. But no police or military coercion can bend the resolute
will of a people who are out for suffering to the uttermost.
2) REMOVAL OF UNTOUCHABILITY
At this time of the day it is unnecessary to dilate upon the necessity
of the removal of this blot and curse upon Hinduism. Congressmen have
certainly done much in this matter. But I am sorry to have to say that
many Congressmen have looked upon this item as a mere political necessity
and not something indispensable, so far as Hindus are concerned, for the
very existence of Hinduism.
If Hindu Congressmen take up the cause for its own sake, they will influence
the so-called Sanatanis far more extensively than they have hitherto done.
They should approach them not in a militant spirit but, as befits their
non-violence, in a spirit of friendliness.
And so far as the Harijans are concerned, every Hindu should make common
cause with them and befriend them in their awful isolation-such isolation
as perhaps the world has never seen in the monstrous immensity one witnesses
in India. I know from experience how difficult the task is. But it is
part of the task of building the edifice of Swaraj. And the road to Swaraj
is steep and narrow. There are many slippery ascents and many deep chasms.
They have all to be negotiated with unfaltering step before we can reach
the summit and breathe the fresh air of freedom.
Although like communal unity and removal of untouchability prohibition
has been on the Congress programme since 1920, Congressmen have not taken
the interest they might have taken in this very vital social and moral
reform. It we are to reach our goal through non-violent effort, we may
not leave to the future government the fate of lakhs of men and women
who are labouring under the curse of intoxicants and narcotics.
Medical men can make a most effective contribution towards
the removal of this evil. They have to discover ways of weaning the drunkard
and the opium-addict from the curse.
Women and students have a special opportunity in advancing
this reform. By many acts of loving service they can acquire on addicts
a hold which will compel them to listen to the appeal to give up the evil
Congress committees can open recreation booths where
the tired labourer will rest his limbs, get healthy and cheap refreshments,
and find suitable games. All this work is fascinating and uplifting. The
non-violent approach to Swaraj is a novel approach. In it old values give
place to new.
In the violent way, such reforms may find no place.
Believers in that way, in their impatience and, shall I say, ignorance,
put off such things to the day of deliverance. They forget that listing
and healthy deliverance comes from within, i.e. from self-purification.
Constructive workers make legal prohibition easy and successful even if
they do not pave the way for it.
Khadi is a controversial subject. Many people think that in advocating
Khadi, I am sailing against a headwind and am sure to sink the ship of
Swaraj and that I am taking the country to the dark ages. I do not propose
to argue the case for Khadi in this brief survey. I have argued it sufficiently
elsewhere. Here I want to show what every Congressman, and for that matter
every Indian, can do to advance the cause of Khadi.
It connotes the beginning of economic freedom and equality of all in the
country. ?The proof of the pudding is in the eating.? Let everyone
try, and he or she will find out for himself or herself the truth of what
I am saying. Khadi must be taken with all its implications. It means a
wholesale Swadeshi mentality, a determination to find all the necessaries
of life in India and that too through the labour and intellect of the
villagers. That means a reversal of the existing process.
That is to say that, instead of half a dozen cities
of India and Great Britain living on the exploitation and the ruin of
the 7,00,000 villages of India, the latter will be largely self-contained,
and will voluntarily serve the cities of India and even the outside world
in so far as it benefits both the parties.
This needs a revolutionary change in the mentality and
tastes of many. Easy though the non-violent way is in many respects, it
is very difficult in many others. It vitally touches the life of every
single Indian, makes him feel aglow with the possession of a power that
has lain hidden within himself, and makes him proud of his identity with
every drop of the ocean of Indian humanity.
This non-violence is not the inanity for which we have
mistaken it through all these long ages; it is the most potent force as
yet known to mankind and on which its very existence is dependent. It
is that force which I have tried to present to the Congress and through
it to the world. Khadi to me is the symbol of unity of Indian humanity,
of its economic freedom and equality and, therefore, ultimately, in the
poetic expression of Jawaharlal Nehru, ?the livery of India?s
5) OTHER VILLAGE INDUSTRIES
These stand on a different footing from Khadi. There is not much scope
for voluntary labour in them. Each industry will take the labour of only
a certain number of hands. These industries come in as a handmaid to Khadi.
They cannot exist without Khadi, and Khadi will be robbed of its dignity
without them. Village economy cannot be complete without the essential
village industries such as hand-grinding, hand-pounding, soap-making,
paper-making, match-making, tanning, oil-pressing, etc.
Congressmen can interest themselves in these and, if they are villagers
or will settle down in villages, they will give these industries a new
life and a new dress. All should make it a point of honour to use only
village articles whenever and wherever available. Given the demand there
is no doubt that most of our wants can be supplied from our villages.
When we have become village-minded, we will not want imitations of the
West or machine-made products, but we will develop a true national taste
in keeping with the vision of a new India in which pauperism, starvation
and idleness will be unknown.
6) VILLAGE SANITATION
Divorce between intelligence and labour has resulted in criminal negligence
of the villages. And so, instead of having graceful hamlets dotting the
land, we have dung-heaps. The approach to many villages is not a refreshing
experience. Often one would like to shut one?s eyes and stuff one?s
nose: such is the surrounding dirt and offending smell.
If the majority of Congressmen were derived from our
villages, as they should be, they should be able to make our villages
models of cleanliness in every sense of the word. But they have never
considered it their duty to identify themselves with the villagers in
their daily lives. A sense of national or social sanitation is not a virtue
among us. We may take a kind of a bath, but we do not mind dirtying the
well or the tank or the river by whose side or in which we perform ablutions.
I regard this defect as a great vice which is responsible
for the disgraceful state of our villages and the sacred banks of the
sacred rivers and for the diseases that spring from instantiation.
7. NEW OR BASIC EDUCATION
This education is meant to transform village children
into model villagers. It is principally designed for them. The inspiration
for it has come from the villages. Congressmen who want to build up the
structure of Swaraj from its very foundation dare not neglect the children.
Foreign rule has unconsciously, though none the less surely, begun with
the children in the field of education. Primary education is a farce designed
without regard to the wants of the India of the villages and for that
mater even of the cities.
Basic education links the children, whether of the cities or the villages,
to all that is best and lasting in India. It develops both the body and
the mind, and keeps the child rooted to the soil with a glorious vision
of the future in the realization of which he or she begins to take his
or her share from the very commencement of his or her career in school.
Congressmen would find it of absorbing interest benefiting themselves
equally with the children with whom they come in contact. Let those who
with, put themselves in touch with the Secretary of the Sangh at Sevagram.
8) ADULT EDUCATION
If I had charge of adult education, I should begin with opening the minds
of the adult pupils to the greatness and vastness of their country. The
villager?s India is contained in his village. If he goes to another
village, he talks of his own village as his home. Hindustan is for him
a geographical term. We have no notion of the ignorance prevailing in
The villagers know nothing of foreign rule and its evils.
What little knowledge they have picked up fills them with the awe the
foreigner inspires. The result is the dread and hatred of the foreigner
and his rule. They do not know how to get rid of it. They do not know
that the foreigner?s presence is due to their own weaknesses and
their ignorance of the power they possess to rid themselves of the foreign
My adult education means, therefore, first, true political
education of the adult by word of mouth. Seeing that this will be mapped
out, it can be given without fear. I imagine that it is too late in the
day for authority to interfere with this type of education; but if there
is interference, there must be a fight for this elementary right without
which there can be no Swaraj. Of course, in all I have written, openness
has been assumed.
Non-violence abhors fear and, therefore, secrecy. Side
by side with the education by the mouth will be the literary education.
This is itself a speciality. Many methods are being tried in order to
shorten the period of education. A temporary or permanent board of experts
may be appointed by the Working Committee to give shape to the idea and
guide the workers.
I admit that what I have said in this paragraph only
points the way but does not tell the average Congressman how to go about
it. Nor is every Congressman fitted for this highly special work. But
Congressmen who are teachers should find no difficulty in laying down
a course in keeping with the suggestions made herein.
I We have included service of women in the constructive programme, for
though satyagraha has automatically brought India?s women out from
their darkness, as nothing else could have in such an incredibly short
space of time, Congressmen have not felt the call to see that women became
equal partners in the fight for Swaraj. They have not realized that woman
must be the true helpmate of man in the mission of service.
Woman has been suppressed under custom and law for which
she had no hand. In a plan of life based on non-violence, woman has as
much right to shape her own destiny as man has to shape his. But as every
right in a non-violent society proceeds from the previous performance
of a duty, it follows that rules of social conduct must be framed by mutual
co-operation and consultation. They can never be imposed from outside.
Men have not realized this truth in its fulness in their
behaviour towards women. They have considered themselves to be lords and
masters of women instead of considering them as their friends and co-workers.
It is the privilege of Congressmen to give the women of India a lifting
hand. Women are in the position somewhat of the slave of old who did not
know that he could or ever had to be free. And when freedom came, for
the moment he felt helpless. Women have been taught to regard themselves
as slaves of men. It is up to Congressmen to see that they enable them
to realize their full status and play their part as equals of men.
This revolution is easy, if the mind is made up. Let Congressmen begin
with their own homes. Wives should not be dolls and objects of indulgence,
but should be treated as honoured comrades in common service. To this
end those who have not received a liberal education should receive such
instruction as is possible from their husbands. The same observation applies,
with the necessary changes, to mothers and daughters.
It is hardly necessary to point out that I have given a one-sided picture
of the helpless state of India?s women. I am quite conscious of the
fact that in the villages generally they hold their own with their men
folk and in some respects even rule them. But to the impartial outsider
the legal and customary status of woman is bad enough throughout and demands