To look for the solution of problems of the pandemic , we need to recall long-forgotten teachings of Gandhi. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say, that his teachings are the most universal and fundamental in nature.
Firstly, the idea of Independence for him not only meant freedom from foreign rule. It also encompassed the freedom of each individual. Beware, this ‘freedom’ doesn’t carry the luxurious meaning that is associated with it today. It means doing your own work with your own hands, respecting freedom of other individuals, freedom from the bondage of consumption, freedom from the self-centered approach of seeing life. This shows the depth of the Idea which Gandhi propagated – freedom from basic dependencies to higher forms of liberation. This idea of freedom has the essence of ‘Self Control’ and ‘Self Respect’ in it.
The ideas of Sarvodaya and Gram Swaraj have huge relevance today. By integrating the rural population with Digital India -the urban-rural divide in income can be done away. With 70% of the population residing in rural areas- this would help in the upliftment of millions. The concept of “Cillage” puts Gandhian principles into practice. By routing the supply chain of products through cottage based industries, supporting them by efficient marketing would reduce burden on cities. It would be a treatment to the massive problem of Rural-Urban migration- as there are almost 195 million domestic migrant workers in India according to the 2011 Census. By doing one’s chores by oneself- it instils a dignity to labour in oneself- this would increase empathy among all towards migrants and servants. This would also lead to the formalisation of the informal economy thus increasing our GDP measures by several points.
The support to cottage industries would also address the problem of climate change. For centuries, our culture has respected Nature -by worshipping it, limiting once dependencies and living with Nature. Gandhi’s teachings of Swachchta and ‘Simple living with High thinking’ are visible today. Though this lockdown has enforced it, we are following these two ideals- and the happiness in Nature amazes us. All of us wish Nature to be as it is nowadays- but our present economic development pattern and consumerism makes it impossible. This pause in economy presents a chance to reorganize it in a way to respect nature- as it is necessary for our survival anymore.
The teachings of Satya and Ahimsa are important in these tumultuous times. The poison of communalism, violence and terrorism can only be countered by empathy. Gandhi’s whole life was this message only. So much so, that any act of out of the way kindness is regarded as Gandhigiri. In today’s events of violence towards health workers, inter-community conflict and related losses of life and property- these Gandhian principles can bring harmony and peace.
Finally, Gandhi’s teachings are quite relevant to any problem faced by an individual or society in every century. There is need to spread this message for the wellness of an individual , family, State, Nation or even whole of humanity.