Technological Transformation and Relevance of Gandhi in Modern India R.K....
Technological Transformation and Relevance
of Gandhi in Modern India
R.K. AWASTHI
Since the beginning of planned development in India, the issue of technology has
been raised at various levels and also recognised as one of the aspects of planning
strategy. It appears that the process has bypassed problems related to the technol-
ogy for the eradication of rural unemployment. The present exercise puts forward
the basic principles of rural reconstruction as envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi who
devoted all his energies in search of viable, sustainable and capital saving
machines. The present article, attempts to highlight the views of Mahatma Gandhi
in the sphere of technology and suggests means accordingly, so that the worker is
not displaced from his/her home and hearth.
Dr. R.K. Awasthi is a Reader in Political Science at the Gandhian Institute of
Studies, Varanasi.

INTRODUCTION
The credit of various achievements in the field of technological trans-
formation goes to the human race and at the same time, the responsi-
bility for the countless misdeeds in disturbing the ecological balance
of our planet also goes to our race. The process of rethinking on the
issue of technology for social and economic transformation has made
seminal contributions to the evolution of action-oriented human
thought, in relation to the type of technology suited to the requirements
of the unemployed millions inhabiting rural India. There may not be
any controversy over the eradication of poverty and improvement in
the quality of life of the millions of people living in Indian villages.
This has been the main concern of India's planned development.
Moreover, it is strange that most of the country's development plans,
envisaged and initiated since Independence, do not reflect the con-
sciousness of the people. It appears that most of the Five Year Plans
have bypassed problems related to the people of rural India.

Technological Transformation and Relevance of Gandhi 509
The life of the economically weaker sections of the society, living
in villages and small towns, is becoming worse on the one hand and
the traditional structure of villages are breaking up on the other hand.
This trend is due to the migration of villagers, particularly the younger
generation, to cities in search of employment. This has, in turn, lead
to living in urban areas a misery on account of over-crowding, insani-
tary conditions, and so on.
The process of planned development in India has not only created
a dichotomous society, but a dichotomous lifestyle also: modern and
traditional. The latter is languishing due to the fact that intelligent and
competent persons are forsaking their roots to join the modern rat race.
The phenomenon of brain drain starts right from remote villages and
ends up not just in urban cities in India but in industrialised countries
like Great Britain, the United States of America, France, Germany and
Japan. It is most threatening that all the best brains — intelligent
scientists, technologists and intellectuals of India — are busy in pro-
moting sophisticated and capital intensive technologies for the indus-
trial establishments. This process is adversely affecting developing
countries like India in two ways:
• highly educated and skilled persons try to migrate to western
countries and all the money spent on their education and training
is lost; and
• even if they do not migrate and remain at home, they are engaged
in highly sophisticated research work for developing sophisti-
cated technologies that help in promoting and developing large-
scale industrial establishments in the country. Consequently,
those who deserve, the fruits of planned development are de-
prived of the same.
Technically, development means helping people to help themselves
by providing proper infrastructure and appropriate technology, devel-
oped by scientists and technologists. But the present scenario shows
that they are engaged in technologies that only help those who are
already rich and affluent and tend to ignore millions, who are poor and
fighting for survival. Besides Gandhi's experiments of Khadi and other
village industries, one of the experiments on rural development was
carried out in Baroda (now known as Vadodara), where Maharaja
Sayaji Rao Gaekwad III and his Prime Minister, Sir T. Madhav Rao,
conducted experiments to help people and bring them out from the
stagnant conditions. They felt unhappy about the disappearance of
self-governing village republics from the Indian scene. The workers

510 R.K.Awasthi
engaged in the Baroda experiment realised the importance of research
and infusing new technologies, which were put into action in the
systematic programme of experimental farms. Rabindranath Tagore,
also played a leading role by recalling that village artisans in India had,
once upon a time, sent their wares far and wide and, thereby, earned
immense wealth, name and fame. In the post-industrial revolution era,
the Indian crafts industry was adversely affected. Continuous neglect,
discouragement and disorganisation, led to faster disappearance of
techniques and skills of indigenous production, already in practice
since time immemorial. For transforming his dreams into reality.
Tagore established a Shilp Bhavan at Sriniketan near Bolpur, in the
Birbhum District of West Bengal, to revitalise cottage industries, by
introducing capital saving and employment generating, simple and
traditional technology. Since the beginning of planned development
in the country, many experiments in the field of technology, have taken
place. Unfortunately, these experiments, barring a few, have remained
confined to isolated areas and have not been replicated all over the
country.
The question arises as to what type of technology India needs to
utilise the humanpower lying idle in abundance throughout the coun-
try. The issue of technology, has wider implications and can not be
discussed in isolation. In view of the facts mentioned above, the present
exercise is an attempt to look at the issue of technology in the
development perspective of the country, and suggest ways and means
for transforming the technology in a manner suited to India. Therefore,
it is obvious that any development plan worth its name must concen-
trate entirely on
• the activities of the poor, helpless and needy;
• trying to revitalise dying traditional, but useful, technologies
already in practice in remote villages all over the country;
• providing employment and aid the rural poor in generating
income; and
• help in relieving extra pressure on agriculture.
PLANNED DEVELOPMENT
Unfortunately, in the planning process of India, the technology pre-
ferred in the production process for the economic and social transfor-
mation of the masses, created heavy industrial units. For setting up
large-scale industrial units, millions of hectares of fertile land and
forests have been encroached for paving, constructing, manufacturing

Technological Transformation and Relevance of Gandhi 511
and fulfilling many other needs of humans. This process has resulted
in the saturation of the assimilative capacities of the country's ecosys-
tem. The problem before a developing society, like India, is to intro-
duce and bring into practice an integrated and comprehensive strategy
of planning, that may touch every aspect of the day to day life of every
human being in society. Since the beginning of planned development
in India, a huge amount has been spent in industrialising the country
along the Western pattern in the pretext of eradication of unemploy-
ment, hunger, poverty, disease and illiteracy. But it is seen that we are
far behind the targets, despite commendable achievements in the field
of industry, agriculture, science and technology. 'Thus the process of
planned development in India has resulted in the form unidimensional
modernisation and single track of giantism, due to the fact that the
planners had in mind that the development as and when takes place
would percolate down to the bottom' (Awasthi, 1988). Surprisingly,
it did not happen to the desired extent due to the fact that 'when capital
intensive technology operates in country like India, where capital is
scarce, it does not work' (Schumacher, 1973).
The traders of modern plants, machines and sophisticated technolo-
gies go around the developing world including India, armed with
blueprints of their products including feasibility and viability studies
in collaboration with consultants of respective countries, to sell their
capital intensive and labour saving technology. It was Gandhiji, who,
for the first time, raised the warning signal as early as in 1909 in a
discourse about the Indian Home Rule published under the title Hind
Swaraj, against industrial civilisation and declared that 'industrialisa-
tion, I am afraid, is going to be a curse, for mankind' (Gandhi, 1938).
Unfortunately, it was not taken seriously by the builders of modern
India and the process of modernisation continued unabated. Gandhiji
was convinced that mass production by big industrial units was crush-
ing human beings, for whom a better life was meant. Therefore, he
pleaded for decentralised pattern of production with small and simple
machines as he strongly believed that the health of an individual and
the well-being of society largely depended upon the nature and type
of technology used as a means of production. Gandhiji always advo-
cated for sustainable development and was against massive industri-
alisation and undue exploitation of human and natural resources.
Gandhiji foresaw that the future of industrialism was dark for the world
and disastrous for India. Recently,- many intellectuals and thinkers
from all over the earth have realised the grimness of industrialisation

512 R.K.Awasthi
and have started calling for a stop to these vagaries. Among them is
Mike Cooley, an international authority on human-centred computer
systems and joint winner of the Alternative Noble Prize, and author of
the book Architect or Bee: The Human Price of Technology. He said,
'India should not slavishly repeat mistake and take technologies from
multinational companies. The key competency for the 21st century
will be to build upon the part time aspects of science and technology
and marginalise the negative aspects. The precious asset for a country
is the skill, ingenuity, imagination and its people' (Cooley, 1998).
Answering a question about the future of humanity in an industri-
alised world, Gandhiji stated 'It is exploitation, I will not say of weaker
nations by sister nations. And the fundamental objection to machinery
rests on the fact that it is machinery that has enabled these nations to
exploit others' (Gandhi, 1931a). The motivating force behind indus-
trialising India, has been the influence of western economic ideology
in promoting the process of modernisation since India achieved Inde-
pendence. Indiscriminate establishment of heavy industrial units has
paved the way for denudation of forest cover and concentration of
population in metropolitan cities and industrial towns. This process
has also encouraged the influx of rural population in search of employ-
ment to the urban centres. On account of inadequate infrastructure and
civic amenities, life of urban inhabitants has become miserable.
RURAL-URBAN MIGRATION
The process of modernisation and indiscriminate establishment of
heavy industrial units throughout the country, has given fillip to
rural-urban migration. In this process, most of the farmland in the
vicinity of urban centres have been encroached by sprawling cities. As
per the 1991 census data (India, 1991), nearly 27 per cent of the
population of India lives in urban India. The percentage of urban
population in cities of one lakh and more, is rising while the population
in cities with upto one lakh, is stagnant. This process has created
disparities in socioeconomic and cultural spheres between the popula-
tion of metropolises and the other cities and towns and between the
rich and poor within the metropolises.
Due to lack of infrastructure and housing facilities, slums, particu-
larly in metropolitan centres, are coming up fast. According to the 1991
census data, the percentage of slum dwellers in Calcutta is reported to
be 44.10, Greater Bombay 45.25, Delhi 38.30, Madras 38.88, Banga-
lore 15.00, Hyderabad 25.00, Kanpur 46.00, Pune 2.00, Nagpur 36.00,

Technological Transformation and Relevance of Gandhi 513
Lucknow 45.00 and Jaipur 19.00 (India, 1991). These figures indicate
that the population living in slums of the million-plus-cities averaged
around 38 per cent. Slums undoubtedly house the urban poor, whose
level of income is much lower than that of the other low income group
households. A majority of these people live in absolute poverty and
unhealthy living conditions.
STATE OF THE INDIAN ECOSYSTEM
The major issue of environmental conservation is closely related with
the way the cities of India are built. The problem of air pollution caused
by industrial effluents and poorly maintained automobiles, in addition
to land and water pollution has created catastrophic situation. These
effects have not just been felt in cities but have spread to surrounding
towns and hinterlands. The intensive use of fossil fuels have also
contributed in polluting the air due to emission of obnoxious gases
from the thermal power plants and other industrial units, tanneries and
untreated sewage discharges. These facts clearly testify that the proc-
ess of industrialisation, by using capital intensive technologies, is
heavily drawing upon the basic life supporting system and makes the
task of environmental conservation beyond control. The process of
rapid urbanisation has adversely affected physical, chemical and bio-
logical characteristics of the ecosystem, on which the survival of
humankind depends. As a result of over-exploitation of natural re-
sources and other human misdeeds, water has become contaminated,
the air poisoned, rivers clogged, atmosphere choked and forests dwin-
dled away.
Scientific discoveries and technological inventions have equipped
humans with unlimited powers to exploit nature. We can move on
mountains, cross oceans, alter the course of rivers, bridge the gulf and
change deserts into green pastures. This process has disturbed the
ecological balance and structure of the earth. The use of fossil fuels
have accelerated global warming, which is being experienced in the
form of poisoned air. On account of the greenhouse effect, the built-up
carbon dioxide is spreading fast in the atmosphere. These are the
findings of scientists and environmentalists who have now started
realising that there is a great danger of illnesses like cancer, blindness,
and soon as a result of radiation hazards, due to depletion of the ozone
layer, unabated denudation of forests, desertification and soil erosion.
Humans, through their endless manifestations, have brought about
crisis to the entire biosphere. Massive industrialisation has destroyed

514 R.K.Awasthi
numerous forms of life and disturbed the natural balance. The fact, that
healthy mind rests on an organism, which cannot withstand all strains
of remorseless destruction, has slipped from man's mind.
MAHATMA GANDHI AND HIS MISSION
On his return from South Africa, Gandhiji widely traveled the country as
suggested by Gopalkrishna Gokhale, to know the people, their culture and
the problems confronted by them. He found that rural unemployment,
untouchability, illiteracy and insanitary conditions were the root cause of
all miseries faced by villagers throughout the country. He decided to take
up the issue of saving the villages from poverty, unemployment, disease
and illiteracy. Gandhiji initiated a nation-wide campaign to make each
and every village self-sufficient and self-reliant. He found that the charkha
(spinning wheel) was the only viable means to save the people from
inhuman socioeconomic conditions. In due course of time, the charkha
not only became a symbol of freedom, but an instrument of transforming
the technology suited to India. Gandhiji felt that all evils were rooted in
the centralised production system. Therefore, he cautioned his fellow
citizens that decentralised production system should not be allowed to
suffer. He believed that the western system of industrialisation was based
on mass exploitation and felt that there was no need for India to become
an industrialised nation in the western sense.
It was the result of Gandhi's committed efforts that khadi and the
goods produced by cottage industries brought a revolution in the country
and soon took the shape of a national movement. Kumarappa and Gadgil,
were very much convinced with this ideology and elaborated Gandhi's
ideas further and gave them concrete shape. Vinoba Bhave, Jayaprakash
Narayan and Anna Sahab Sahasrabuddhe provided leadership for the
work of village upliftment through the Sarvodaya Movement. It was in
the Sarvodaya Plan that a comprehensive village plan was prepared. It
emphasised improved techniques, tools and machines which would in-
crease efficiency and culminate drudgery by providing employment to
the millions of Indians, particularly in their idle hours, at their doorsteps
(Dev, 1958).
GANDHI-NEHRU CONFLICT
What Mahatma Gandhi subscribed in his book, Hind Swaraj (Gandhi,
1938), has lost much of its efficacy in his own land, and the Indian
planning has become an irksome constraint in achieving the desired
goal of making India a welfare state. India's first Prime Minister,

Technological Transformation and Relevance of Gandhi 515
Pandit Nehru's name is often quoted with the name of Gandhiji in
connection with the industrialisation of the country. Gandhiji strongly
opposed the idea of centralisation of heavy industries and modernisa-
tion, as envisaged by Nehru. According to Awasthi (1998):
There had been conflicts between Gandhi and Nehru on the issues
related to the industrialisation and modernisation of the country.
This was due to the fact that Gandhi's outlook was shaped by the
conservative and deeply religious social make. His actions were
dominated by moral imperatives, while Nehru was the product of
western tradition. Gandhi believed in purity of means and Nehru
reached his conclusions through reasoning and analysis.
It does not mean that Gandhi was against science and technology,
as he himself proclaimed that 'I would prize any invention of science
for benefit of all' (Gandhi, 1935). Nehru, in support of his views,
clearly states that (Gopal, 1980a):
I am personally a believer in the development of large scale of
industries, Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly support the Khadi Move-
ment as well as other Village Industries' Movement for political,
social and economic reasons. In my mind there is no essential
conflict between the two, although there might be occasionally
conflict in regard to the certain aspects of development of both.
For Gandhiji, the village was the primary unit and the individual a
central point for economic activities and community organisation. He
never approved the industrial culture as he felt that it not only dehu-
manised humans, but also infested village people with it's baser
appetite and destroyed the self-reliant character of Indian villages. For
Gandhiji, economic and social transformation were closely related to
the moral and spiritual values and understanding of the individual. As
a result, he never endorsed Nehru's planning based on heavy industrial
establishments. For Nehru, large-scale industries and multi-purpose
hydro-electric projects were the temples of modern India. In due course
of time, Nehru found that his dreams were shattered, and he had to go
one step backward and admit that (Gopal, 1980a):
Gandhi has done a great service to India by his emphasis on village
industries. Before he did this, we were all nearly all, thinking in a
lopsided way and ignoring not only human aspect of the question
but peculiar conditions prevailing in India... It is also possible that
the total wealth produced by a large number of cottage industries
might be greater than that of some factories producing the same kind
of goods.

516 R.K.Awasthi
In other words, he was convinced with Gandhi's approach of
production by the masses.
SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY
Mahatma Gandhi is regarded the world over as a great philosopher,
reformer, politician and a crusader of non-violence. But very few
people have tried to bring about his thinking on the issue of technology
and environment, and his qualities of understanding in connection with
the same. The concept of sustainable technology and survival of
humankind, for which the environmentalists are embarking upon to
save the planet from an ecological disaster, is inherent in the ideology
of Mahatma Gandhi. He warned the people and raised many issues
related to the mechanisation and industrialisation and its effect on the
environment, on which the survival of humankind depended, at the
time when it was not a major concern as it is today. As early as in 1927,
Gandhi had warned the world about the disastrous situation with which
entire humanity would be engulfed and cautioned that 'the Industrial
Civilisation is a disease, because it is all evil. Let us not be deceived
by catch words and phrases' (Gandhi, 1935). He further added that 'If
machinery craze grows in our country, it will become an unhappy land'
(Gandhi, 1935). Gandhi was well convinced that if India became
heavily industrialised, it would be driven to exploit the natives as well
as nature and visualised that (Gandhi, 1934):
The future of Industrialism is dark, England has got successful
competitors in America, France, Germany and Japan. It has com-
petitors in the handful of mills in India and as there will be awak-
ening in South Africa, with its vastly richer resources, natural,
mineral and human, the western nations may cease to find a dumping
ground for their wares and the future of industrialism is dark for the
west, would it still be darker for India'.
One should keep in mind that Gandhi was not opposed to techno-
logical innovations. What he simply stressed, was the control and
regulation of its use, so that the other values were not lost in the process
of technology introduction. Sophistication in technology and huge
capital investment in research and development, is the result of grow-
ing demand of luxurious consumer durables. In view of the growing
consumerism, Gandhiji suggested to his fellow citizens, to limit their
needs.
Prof. E.F. Schumacher, a British trained Gandhian economist, was
very much influenced with the thought and vision of Mahatma Gandhi.

Technological Transformation and Relevance of Gandhi 517
He pleaded that the technology that had to be brought into practice
must be related to the socioeconomic and environmental realities, so
that humans can be saved from various types of miseries. Therefore,
he suggested that (1973), 'The type of technology must be based on
indigenous scientific research so that can draw into productive em-
ployment, the unemployed manpower of the country with the help of
limited resources available. It must also bring all the sectors of econ-
omy into practice. The thinking should be diverted in terms of new
pattern of technology'. In the beginning of the twentieth century,
Gandhiji suggested for the implementation of the khadi programme by
using charkha, a symbol of sustainable technology and means of achiev-
ing swaraj (self-rule) for the people. Gandhiji had a strong opinion and
conviction that the work must be brought to the needy, to where they live
and they should not be allowed to migrate. Schumacher (1973) strongly
supported and advocated such a type of technology, 'which must eschew
all types of violence against man, nature, environment, society and life'.
SWADESHI AND SWARAJ
India recently celebrated the Golden Jubilee of its Independence, but the
dream of eradication of poverty and unemployment is yet to be fulfilled.
This state of affairs is the result of a centralised system of mass-production.
Therefore, it has become imperative to take the surplus load of working
force to more efficient and productive alternatives, through adoption of
viable technology to ensure that the surplus humanpower is employed
gainfully. Development plans should be formulated keeping in view the
basic principles that, 'capital saving and environmental friendly technol-
ogy', is given its due place so that, the flight of people from villages to
towns and cities, contributing to the growth of dysfunctional primate
megalopolises, is arrested. The ultimate goal of Gandhiji was swaraj. He
had a clear vision that unless India became free from British rule, the
dream of the swadeshi movement would remain merely a dream. He
understood the importance of village craft and household industries in the
economy of the country. He was sure that if villages were uplifted the
country would be free from bondage. Opposing the use of sophisticated
and capital intensive machines and tools, Gandhi (1924) said, 'I will rule
out any machinery, even I would reject the body which is not useful to
salvation and seek the absolute liberation of soul. From that point of view,
I will reject all machinery'. Gandhiji admitted that 'Machines will remain,
because they are like a body, they are inevitable. The body itself is a pure
mechanism but if it is a hindrance to the highest flights of soul, it has to

518 R.K.Awasthi
be rejected'. Gandhiji was basically a staunch advocate of the rein-
statement of human beings. He did not find machines suitable to India,
where a great fleet of unemployed people were struggling for very
survival though he accepted that:
Mechanisation is good, when hands are too few for work intended
to be accomplished. It is evil when there are more hands than
required for the work, as is the case of India. The problem with us
is not how to find leisure for the teeming millions inhabiting our
villages, the problem is how to utilise idle hours, which are equal to
working days of six months in a year. (Gandhi, 1924).
The ongoing trend of technology transfer not only destroys energies
and resources, but also kill values, culture and institutions of the
highest order, which are unavoidable to congenial atmosphere for
sustainable development. Schumacher (1973) attributed that: 'Induc-
tion of sophisticated technologies displace workers from their homes
and hearth and make adverse affect on environment. Ever bigger
machines entailing ever bigger concentration of economic power and
extending ever greater violence against the environment, and do not
represent progress. They are denial of wisdom.'
Thus, for eradication of poverty and removal of unemployment,
Schumacher (1973) suggested a technology called Appropriate Tech-
nology based on following principles:
1. Small in size, so that the units can be in large numbers, and
dispersed all over.
2. Simple in organisation; so that it may be organised and under-
stood easily by ordinary mortals, especially the simple village
folk of the countryside.
3. Capital saving, so that it does not consume scarce capital.
4. Non-violent and non-exploitative, which means it uses replen-
ishable energy and animal power as for as possible.
KHADI AND VILLAGE INDUSTRIES
The Indian National Congress, in its special session of 1920,
adopted a resolution regarding khadi as a measure of discipline and
self-sacrifice for every man and woman of India. The All India Khadi
Department was created, in the year 1922, for supervising the produc-
tion of khadi carried out by provincial and subordinate committees.
The Department was later substituted by All India Khadi Board in
1923. Gandhiji witnessed commendable growth in the khadi produc-
tion activity and felt that there should be an independent organisation

Technological Transformation and Relevance of Gandhi 519
for the khadi programme. The prompted him to create a national-level
organisation, and the All India Spinners' Association was created by
him in 1925.
The Directive Principles of State Policy, as enumerated in the Indian
Constitution, provides the right to adequate means of livelihood (India,
1961). In pursuance of the provision, the Government of India set up
an All India Khadi and Village Industries Board to organise and
promote activities pertaining to the activities of khadi and village
industries. Later, the government decided to provide more autonomy
and constituted an autonomous body, the Khadi and Village Industries
Commission (KVIC), by an Act of the Parliament and the KVIC came
into existence on April 9, 1957.
The First Five Year Plan treated the activities of KVIC as a conjunct
to the development of agriculture. The second plan carved an independent
position for the sector to meet the growing demand of commodities of
common needs. The Third Five Year Plan laid emphasis on the integration
of khadi and village industries in the rural economy and spelt out the
concept of rural industrialisation. The Fourth Plan brought a significant
change in the basic approach towards the promotion of khadi and village
industries on the basis of the recommendations of the Asok Mehta
Committee and fixed social, economic and other wider objectives, for
creating self-reliance among the rural people and building a strong
community spirit in rural areas. As a result, the programme was spread in
6,000 villages with the production of ten million square yards of khadi,
valued at Rs. 3.4 million with 517 outlets before the KVIC came into
existence. According to Mukherjee (1995):
By the year 1994, there has been a tremendous growth in the network
and thirty Khadi and Village Industries Boards at state level, 3520
directly aided institutions, 29000 co-operative societies and over
half a million individual entrepreneurs with 14,113 scales outlets
covering 2.3 lakh villages, came into existence. The production of
khadi in the fiscal 1994-95 reached to the tune of Rs. 353.5 crore
and Rs. 2.523 crore worth of village-industry products and provided
employment to 14.45 lakh persons in Khadi and 36.05 lakh in village
industries'.
Also according to Mukherjee (1995), 'There were 3.64 crore of
registered unemployed at the beginning of the Eighth Plan, instead of
job opportunities that could be created with the massive investment in
the next two Five Year plans, a staggering figure of 10.38 crore will
remain unemployed'.

520 R.K. Awasthi
The figures mentioned above clearly indicate that Gandhian alter-
natives, in the field of technology, for providing employment through
the use of indigenous and capital saving technology in cottage and
small-scale industries like production of khadi and manufacturing by
village industries, have become more relevant today. The former Prime
Minister of India, Narsimha Rao launched an intensive development
programme of khadi and village industries in 125 community devel-
opment blocks all over the country to mark the 125th birth anniversary
of Mahatma Gandhi.
Under this programme as many as 1000 persons were offered
employment in each Block. The significant aspect of this pro-
gramme was — where production of Khadi was flourishing, setting
up of village industries was given priority and where village indus-
tries were concentrated production of Khadi was taken up. The
Planning Commission also increased its allocation funds under the
head Rural Development in the Eighth Plan to the tune of Rs. 30,000
crore from Rs. 7,000 crore during Seventh Plan'. (Mukherjee, 1995).
TECHNOLOGICAL TRANSFORMATION
Since 1925, when the All India Spinners' Association came into
existence under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, a number of tools
and equipments, including small machines have been developed and
introduced in the field of khadi and village industries production
programme. For conducting experiments and field trials, the Khadi
Prayog Samiti (KPS), an experimenting agency, was set up at the
Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad and for village industries at the
Jamnalal Bajaj Institute at Wardha. In the field of spinning, experi-
ments have reached from Takall to New Model Charkha (NMC), based
on ring frame technology, prevalent in textile mills. During the life-
time of Mahatma Gandhi, a simple mill-worker, Ekambarnath Iyer
developed a four spindle, all wooden frame, spinning wheel. Since
then, a number of models of charkhas have been developed such as
six and eight spindle charkhas, 25 and even 50 spindle charkhas. For
spinning, coarse count of yarn, the Multi-Count Charkha (MCC) and
Mudleri Charkha, for wool spinning, are also in practice. Recently a
charkha developed by the KPS for spinning, was ready for field trials.
The latest development in the field of decentralised spinnings is a Mini
Spinning Mill, that can dramatically enhance the potential of employ-
ment for rural unemployed men and women. The motorised spinning
wheel is modeled on the charkha that Gandhiji used to spin yarn to

Technological Transformation and Relevance of Gandhi 521
make his own clothes. The motorised charkha with 12, 16 or 24
spindles can spin yarn four times faster than the traditional contraption.
It has been developed by Sharmil Vikas Sanstha (SVS), an NGO
headed by Sanat Mehta, a former Member of Parliament from Gujarat.
The innovative charkha can be run by a single phase, half horse power
engine to produce high quality cloth of 40 counts, that can compete
well in the market. It has been manufactured with the help of Udyog
Bharati, an organisation based at Gondal in Rajkot district in Gujarat.
In the pre-processing activity of the khadi sector, small processing
machines have taken the shape of Central Sliver Making Plant. It helps
to provide ready-made rovings, on a large-scale, to the spinners
scattered in a cluster of villages. Besides transformation in traditional
technologies, the KVIC, has also developed and promoted 'polyvas-
tra', an amalgamation of cotton and polyester as well other blended
textiles.
Tremendous innovations have taken place in the field of village
industries. The traditional oil ghani (oil-crushing unit) has been re-
placed by portable power driven ghani; traditional potters' wheel by
Sheller Potters' Wheel; traditional paper making units by Cylinder
Mould-Van-Unit and Raspador Machines for fibre extraction. Con-
sumer articles like toilet and washing soaps, shampoos and fancy
articles from bamboo, cane and palm leaves; stationery articles and
many other things are produced by village industries. The improved
technology used in the manufacturing helps to provide higher wages
to the workers. The eco-friendly nature of technology used in the
manufacturing process, in this sector, has become an asset, and has
also created competitive demand among the foreigners visiting India.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The centralised production and distribution system has encouraged
migration of rural people to the cities and towns in search of a living.
Consequently, the cities of India are becoming unmanageable day by day,
due to lack of proper civic utilities and housing accommodation and other
facilities. Villages are suppliers of raw materials to the cities and buyers
of consumer articles produced in large-scale industries located in metros
and other large cities. This process had its beginning just after the
Industrial Revolution and is continuing unabated, even today. When
Gandhiji saw this trend after returning from South Africa, and had an
extensive tour of the entire country at the behest of Gopal Krishna
Gokhale, he realised that machine made cloth imported from Lancashire

522 R.K. Awasthi
and other cities of the United Kingdom, should be stopped forthwith.
He gave a call for indigenous production by small machines like the
charkha and suggested that the type of technology developed should be
determined on the basis of the harmony of technology with nature.
Renowned Gandhian economist J.C. Kumarappa, was so influenced by
Gandhiji's ideology that he also opined that, 'Any action to be termed
scientific should conform to the nature on all the bearings, and where we
deviate from nature we are unscientific' (Kumarappa, 1948). Since the
Industrial Revolution, the process of modernisation has posed a challeng-
ing task before the entire global ecosystem. As a result, humanity is
engulfed with the adverse effects created by environmental pollution. This
is the result of indiscriminate use of sophisticated technology. Now it has
become imperative, that the technology should be devised and developed
in such a it way that may fulfill minimum material needs of the people
and encourage production by 'masses', as otherwise endless sophistica-
tion in technology will prove disastrous for the existence of humanity. It
has now become unavoidable that the technology pressed into action
should centre around each and every individual and should also be
need-based, environment friendly and be able to contribute to the opening
of moral, spiritual and intellectual faculty of every human being. Tech-
nological progress signifies structural change that could arrest pressure of
population on urban centres and enhance the capacities of villages to cope
with their problems.
Gandhiji had a dream of self-reliant and self-dependent people and
self-sufficient villages so that true swaraj could be achieved. If the
dream of Gandhiji is transformed into reality, it will certainly help to
decrease the pressure of population in cities and help in creating
technological advancement of the highest order.
In the light to arguments mentioned above, a few Gandhian alter-
natives are suggested below:
1. The process of economic activities should be geared up to make
every village self-sufficient for the vital needs and supporting
cities only with surplus.
2. Large-scale industrial establishments should not be allowed to pro-
duce goods that can be produced by cottage and village industries.
3. The Constitution of India (73rd Amendment) Act, 1972, on
Panchayati Raj should be implemented and programme of
village upliftment, as visualised by Gandhiji, should be en-
trusted to the newly constituted Gram Panchayats.

Technological Transformation and Relevance of Gandhi 523
Suitable alternatives in the field of technology, as desired by Gand-
hiji, if introduced and promoted, will definitely bring about a techno-
logical revolution. For example, in the process of khadi production and
manufacturing by other village industries, constant research and feedback
is essential to scale down or upgrade the type of technology to' increase
the potential of machines, tools and other modes of production, so that
more employment avenues could be created.
Research and experiments in technological transformation, as sug-
gested by Gandhiji, would definitely make a significant contribution
in the eradication of rural poverty. For the implementation of proposed
schemes, a coordinating agency, in each region of India, representing
the Indian Institute of Technology, the Social Science Research Insti-
tute and concerned departments of respective universities should be
created. These catalytic agents should be entrusted with the responsi-
bility of gathering information on the technologies being used for
manufacturing and other related processes for the use of common
consumers. A few activists, who are associated with non-governmental
agencies and engaged in rural development programmes, may be
involved. Thereafter, each Regional Centre should produce a technology
directory, and the information, thus gathered, should be exchanged with
each proposed centre. This will help in exchanging and transmitting the
blueprints of machines and their technical data from one centre to the other
and will prove helpful in introducing a viable and efficient technology.
However, it must be borne in mind that technological revolution in
India is not possible unless the government comes forward with a
national technology policy.
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1998
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524 R.K. Awasthi
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