Gandhian ideas on economic development are based on the principles of non-violence and self-sufficiency. Mahatma Gandhi elaborated on the transformative role of the trickle-down economy in his 18-point constructive programme which he penned down in 1941. He articulated about the problems associated with wealth inequality and its role in disturbing the peace in the society. He took inspiration from various religions in constructing his way of life and his economic principles based on truth and non-violence. His belief that there is enough on this earth to meet the need, but not the greed of people explicitly explains his views on wealth accumulation.
Gandhi envisioned a new social order based on his principles, where the economic development is coupled with moral progress and philanthropy. His philosophy of economic and social development visualises a village as a self-sufficient unit which achieves development through means that are just, non-violent and ethical. It could be interpreted he was a socialist at heart, who advocated for trusteeship, decentralisation of economic activities. He opposed labour-replacing technology, as the priority for new India was to accommodate weaker sections of the population in the workforce.
A just economy, according to Mahatma Gandhi, must be free from exploitation and enhance human dignity. Today after 75 years of Gandhi’s writings, the society is unequal, and the wealth inequality is highest in the world. Occupy Wall Street movement or the Climate Change movements across the world have has used the connotations of the same slogan as Gandhi’s on need and greed. These elements have been central to various other modern-day social movements as well, thus making the Gandhian model of economy more relevant today than ever. His model not only touches upon the economic and social aspects but also on the mindset of the political class.
Mahatma Gandhi was never against capital creation but was against the exploitative means and the greed of the capitalist class which dehumanises the work culture. He hoped that all people in the society would enjoy real freedom if they are free from wants and consume resources optimally just to meet their needs. The crux of fairness in all civilised societies rests in the objective and equitable distribution of resources. This peace could be negotiated between the working class and capitalist class through discussions mediated by the government.
Thus Gandhian Model of development which is in a way, the socialistic model, detaches the rural and urban people with respect to economic relations, whereas attaches them morally and benevolently. Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy is value loaded with social, economic, moral principles at the contours. It is necessary for every individual to follow his principles after discussions and deliberations.
In order to resurrect the conversation on Gandhian principles and contextualise them for the current social needs, Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) launched National Agenda Forum with the support of 25,000 youth across 600 districts in India. This forum is an essential platform which will instigate discussions on various controversial propositions of Mahatma Gandhi such as wealth creation and distribution in the country and will set the agenda for necessary paradigm shifts in the economic thinking.