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POL300H1 Lecture Notes - Khadi

Political Science
Course Code
Jody Boyer/ Tom Malleson

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Lecture Nov 1/2012
Gandhian Non-Violent Economics
Indian Economic Development
Main focus from both left and right has been on industrialization and growth
India has become richer:
oBut also, maintained immense rural poverty and unemployment;
worsening environmental conditions; significant inequality, etc.
Gandhi’s vision of economic development:
For Gandhi, development refers to more than wealth; the development of
people’s capacities.
o“Real wealth does not consist of jewelry and money, but in providing for
proper food, clothes, education, and creating healthy conditions of living
for every one of us”
Gandhi’s development strategy was based on rural development since this is
where the majority of the population lived.
oConcept of Khadi and Chaka.
oEconomic Swaraj
oBroader development strategy
Gandhi’s Short-Term Vision:
Decentralized village production (Khadi)
oThis is Gandhi’s method of nonviolently dealing with material inequality
oHe thought that the capitalists and the rich should be seen as trustees;
should use their wealth for the good of the community
oTrusteeship is the idea that the rich will freely give up their wealth for the
good of the community
oGandhi counter posed this theory from the idea of class struggle.
Gandhi’s long-term vision: Village Swaraj
“My idea of village Swaraj is that it is a complete republic, independent of its
neighbors for its vital wants, and yet interdependent on many others in which
dependence is a necessity”
Every village will be its own fundamentally democratic unit
Vision was of radical decentralization and democratization of political and
economic power
oThought that ideally the distinction between capitalist and worker would
be abolished
Instead of capitalism, Gandhi wanted a kind of anarchist socialism
oThe state would be “the best governed which is governed the least” type
of concept
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Problems with Gandhi’s development model:
The main criticism leveled at Gandhi’s development plan is that it will not lead
to fast growth
The basic problem is that Gandhi wants Indias economy to be based on village
agriculture, but agriculture has low potential for productivity growth.
Every country that has become rich has done so on the basis of manufacturing,
largely because manufacturing has the potential for enormous productivity
Most economists criticized Gandhi for basing his development plan on
Overall it’s important to have a nuanced evaluation of Gandhi’s development
Modern Gandhian like Schumacher’s call for intermediate technology-
technology which is cheap enough for everyone to acquire, but that allows
creative and humanizing work- also allows for production growth.
Review of Gandhi on capitalism:
Gandhi thought that capitalism was an inherently violent system for several
oCreates poverty/unemployment, which deprives people of the
opportunities to develop their capabilities
oCapitalist firms are large and hierarchical- they dehumanize and alienated
oCapitalism is based on a n insatiable materialism, a view of people as
limitless consumers. He sees this as a kind of spiritual violence, which
makes people obsessed with consumption, never satisfied with what they
Vis-à-vis Marxism:
He was opposed to the violence of revolution
oGandhi wanted to change capitalism, but not violently
He was opposed to the violence of the state
oHe thought that a communist state is the twin of a capitalist state
oIf anything the communist state is scarier and potentially even more
violent that the capitalist state because it combines not just political
power but political AND economic power in the same few hands
He was critical of the violence of economic hierarchy
oHe thought that communist simply took over businesses and factories
replaced the capitalist boss with a state boss
The thought that the goal was no tot just change who was at the
top of the hierarchy but to abolish the hierarchy itself
Whereas the Marxist advocated for state control, the state to plan the economy
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