Gandhi’s Concept of Swadeshi
When Moses is commissioned by Yahweh in the Old Testament of the Bible to deliver His people from the shackles of the Egyptians, he asks God his name, to which God answers: ‘I AM WHO AM’. God further commands Moses: ‘Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent you.’ (Gen 3:14)
The etymons of the word ‘Swadeshi’ and ‘swaraj’ are ‘swa’, ‘desh ‘ and ‘raj’, which mean ‘self’, ‘nation’ and ‘rule’ respectively in Sanskrit. Swadeshi is the principle deployed by Mahatma Gandhiji to wrest India from the clutches of the British.
At one time in history, I AM used Moses to free His people from the Egyptians; after over three millennia Mahatma Gandhiji used Swadeshi and Swaraj to free his people from the British.
Although Swadeshi was not a new concept at the time of Mahatma Gandhi, he became its greatest and most decisive exponent. The philosophy of swadeshi was not meant to be a weapon merely to retrieve India from the clutches of the British but the method of governance even after India became independent. It became a political, economic and social ideology to be followed in independent India. For Gandhi, swadeshi was meant to be a route to the roots of Indian culture. He wanted to reinvigorate India’s vitality and culture through swadeshi. Moreover, on a broader platform it was to be the most potent tool for decentralization of power.
Gandhiji envisioned India to be federal structure with self-governed and self-sufficient villages contributing each brick to the edifice. For, he said, ‘the true India is to be found … in its s seven hundred thousand villages.’ He also portended. ‘If the villages perish, India will perish too.’ Today his portent has nearly come true. There is mass migration of people from villages to towns and cities and many villages themselves are being urbanised. On the other hand, Indian economic and foreign policies have become begging bowls with unmanageable current account deficit and lopsided Balance of...