Post Covid India Needs a Mahatma
“Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men our time” stated great scientist Albert Einstein. To the world suffering from the aftermath of second world war Einstein gave a call that “we should strive to do things in his (Mahatma Gandhi) spirit”. Now after seventy years the world may not have suffered a global war but in terms of damage to the economy and number of deaths that occurred, the Covid19 pandemic is as good as third World War, impact wise. As the world is now looking at the ways of the recovery and India struggling to come to terms with the badly hit economy the Gandhian way may be the only saving grace for the land of Mahatma.
Gandhi was well ahead of his peers not only in identifying issues that are likely to crop up but also offering possible solutions. The fact that he wrote about need to protect nature in his Young India in 1917 and his statement that “nature can meet the needs of the people and not the greed” is quoted my modern environmentalists is a testimony to the thoughts of Mahatma. Perhaps Gandhi was the only leader who practiced what he preached as a solution. Unlike the present crop, Swadeshi is not a slogan for Gandhi but a movement for inculcating Indianness. He led by example both in throwing away foreign good and following it by adoption of charkha and khadi. He never wavered from that path in his lifetime. That was the power of conviction and that conviction is absent in the self-proclaimed inheritors of Gandhi in Congress and in other parties.
For example, the Right who talks of the Swadeshi and the Left which swear by the Public Sector as the ways for post Covid economic recovery is not known to practice their chosen ideology. The Left leaders which champion the workers and the public sector cause was also the first to abandon the BSNL phones and shift to Airtel, Tata, Geo. When private Banks appeared on the scene the Left parties and leaders opened the accounts with those ICICI, HDFC etc. and did business with them. Indian postal system served us so many years and it needs support of patriots. But what the Left and Right did? They coolly encouraged the private courier services and their leaders never objected to the Banks and other public sector companies abandoning the Indian Posts. Instead of one public sector supporting the other in business, each one behaved selfishly in the name of efficiency and quality. The story of HMT watches and many other public sectors is no different. In the end no public sector company remained profit making and met natural death. This is not to condone the inefficiency, lethargy of both managerial and workers and politicians for their interference, but only explain how Gandhian way would have succeeded Swadeshi. Now both Right, Left and Center are lamenting and lecturing as if someone has killed ‘swadeshi spirit’.
Most of the Indians now say that they opted to foreign goods because of the quality they offered. Agreeing that shaving creams, blades of Gillette are better in quality compared to the Bharat Blades with which I first started my shaving in 1970s I questioned on the lack of quality of Chinese products the goal post is shifted to the cost of the products. But when Mahatma Gandhi called for boycotting the foreign goods people never questioned but willingly threw into fire the foreign cloths. The question of cost and quality was never raised by that generation. It was because of the leadership of Gandhi and the conviction that great leader gave them. Compare that with the way our Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of ‘local’ in his address to the nation and with in 48 hours his finance minister Nirmala Seetharaman announcing the enhancement of FDI into defense manufacturing to over 70%. What message this government is sending to Indians.
Even at this critical juncture the Governments both at the center are not ready to announce stoppage of foreign brand cars for the official use. The Left is not giving a call to its cadre to go back to BSNL phones. The Congress are not ready to shift to Khadi. If each of these different ideological parties and cadre can convince through their call for a shift in the consumer attitude the SMSE will recover in no time. Instead people are bombarded with political rhetoric without substance that was more aimed at 2024 elections rather than real National gain.
By Dr Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao, Retired Professor, Vijayawada