Despite being a transformative leader, Gandhi’s vision of the future of India after independence is heavily criticized. His vision for the country’s future was highly unorthodox since it was based on his values. India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, is quoted stating that Gandhi was “delightfully vague” about the future of the country after independence. He did not have a concrete plan for the form of government to succeed the colonialists, and he also failed to subscribe to political theory. His single focus is set on liberating his people, “Swaraj.”
To adequately critique Gandhi’s ideas about an ideal society and the future of the nation, it is imperative that we understand the values that guided Gandhi’s life. For example, his ideas of a free society were based on non-violence and democracy, where every individual has a voice. He also advocated for and taught about a balance between social responsibility and individual freedom. He held morality and social ideals in high regard, arguing that without them, life lost all meaning.
Highly Unorthodox Vision
In a highly unorthodox vision of the future, he proposed the return to the ideals and social systems of ancient India. Here, the people would forego the representative forms of government, a written constitution, no military or police, no industrialization, and no modern cities. They would then revert to communal living where the people thrived on an agrarian economy devoid of either communism or capitalism, and they would adopt a moral framework in place of civil law. Gandhi is seen to be overly ambiguous about the direction of the future of the country. However, one of the main things that become very clear about Gandhi is his advocating for individualistic anarchy.18 This is a social system that disregarded the control of the state (government) and frowned on the private ownership of resources.
India’s Next Step
On gaining their independence, India’s next step would be the pursuit of socioeconomic prosperity. Through individualistic anarchy, the country would effectively reduce or eliminate greed, communal strife, and violence, allowing for a greater concentration on the development of society as a whole. However, there was another catch that required the country to undergo spiritual regeneration and reform its soul to achieve true independence. Gandhi further argued that after the spiritual regeneration, the country would no longer need a government, and the spiritual enlightenment of all the people would result in a simpler and more honest living for all. Gandhi also stipulated the government was an impediment to the pursuit of a moral existence. He contended that the embracing of western values has perverted the people and resulted in unlimited desires and materialism.
Criticize Capitalism and Socialism
He is also seen to heavily criticize capitalism and socialism, arguing that they have made man a prisoner of greed and self-indulgence. Nehru reacted to this sentiment, arguing that they were both unrealistic and unachievable. Gandhi envisions a simple, self-reliant society with the values of communal cooperation and manual labor. He continued to contend that the economic system should not be based on the global market; rather, it should be organized around khadi (handspun cotton).
He also called for the rejection of private ownership and embracing public ownership, and the payments and salaries of people would be based on their roles. As an example, farmers would be paid with seeds and equipment for laying the seeds. The rejection of industrialization and mechanization of labor and production was aimed at increasing the employment of the millions of people in the country. Gandhi argued that the mechanization of agriculture was one of the main reasons for people’s greed, and it promoted unemployment, exploitation, and starvation among the unemployed and exploited.22
Gandhi is seen to hold tough criticisms for the different systems of government that have referred to the British parliament as a “prostitute” due to the constant change of officials in charge and a “sterile woman” for not having accomplished any good deeds. It is because of these things that he was in opposition to the adoption of the British system of government. He further stipulated the concentration of power within an institution was very harmful as it served to destroy man’s individuality.