No way am i adopting Gandhi as a socialist because he wasn't , preferring to believe that he could use moral force to achieve a more equitable society where capitalists would become trustees over the labourer and a levelling of incomes . However , i visited the museum in his honour at Madurai and bought a book of selected quotes . I have come across a few pertinent quotations that are worth posting .
"According to me , the economic constitution of India and for that matter of that of th world , should be such that no-one under it should suffer from want of food and clothing . In otherwords everybody should be able to get sufficient work to enable him to make the two ends meet. And this ideal can be universally realised only if the means of production of the elementary necessaries of life remain in the control of the masses . These should be freely available to all as God's air and water are or ought to be ; they should not be made a vehicle of traffic for the exploitation of others . Their monopolisation by any country , nation or group of persons would be unjust . The neglect of this simple principle is the cause of the destitution that we witness today not only in this unhappy land but in other parts of the world too "
Elsewhere , Gandhi says :-
"The real implication of equal distribution is thateach man shall have the wherewithal to supply all his natural wants and no more . For example , if a man has a weak digestion and requires only a quarter of a pound of flour for his bread and another needs a pound , both should be in a position to satisfytyheir wants . To bring this ideal into being the entire social order has got to be re-constructed . "
And again he said :-
" The elephant needs a thousand times more food than the ant , but that is no indication of inequality . So the real meaning of economic equality was:
" To each according to his need" .
That was the definition of Marx.
I have also been reading a more contemporary book . Riot after Riot by M.J. Akbar , his reports on caste and communal violence in India.
Some things are worth while posting from that .
From the introduction by Khushwant Singh :-
"There was reason to hope that we had seen the last communal strife and that India would indeed fulfil Gandhi's dream ...But that was not to be . Our hopes have turned to ashes. Hindu-Muslim confrontations on religious festivals have begun to occur with sickening regularity in riot-prone arts of the country where the two communities co-exist . From being Hindu versus Muslim , they have become Hindu versus Christian , Hindu versus Sikh , upper-caste Hindu versus lower caste-caste Hindu , Christain versus Buddhist , hill tribal versus plains tribal .In the massacre at Nellie in Assam , it was just about everyone against his neighbour . It has become clearer that we are too many with not enough land or jobs available for all of us . The root cause of spreading endemic violence is economic : religious linguistic and ethnic differences provide the excuse and motivation to indulge in it .... "
Akbar in The Spiders of Orissa writes :-
"...To create a good slave you must first kill his pride , his self - respect , his notion of himself as an ordinary equal human being . The slave's body is needed - the man's for labour , the woman's for labour and abuse; but to control the body the inner spark which ignites anger must be crushed . There are many weapons in the spiders arsenal , both psychological and physical , but the chief one is dramatically simple : hunger . When a generation or two dies of the ultimate denial , delirious for a handful of rice , while a chorus of spiders fattens indifferently in the background , physical and mental slavery becomes an easy option to the dying. The young woman at your feet is not prostrate through love or devotion ; she is there because over many lifetimes she has learnt that the degradation of the spirit is the only guarantee she has against the degradation of the body , that food and safety are not her right but a gift which a superior might grant if she behaves. The man , his taut , dark body glistening with youth which will fast wither , is allowed the hint of a sullen look , but no more . Oppress by destitution . Keep a people on the permanent knife-edge of hunger : normalcy should never mean more than one meal of rice and dal a day...
...The real trick is to destroy the confidence of a people: make them believe the caactures you have created about them . Less than 500 years ago , these tribals of Orissa and Bastar and Andhra ruled over a brillant empire ;today they have been turned into parodies of a cruel fiction. The tribal man is a mahua-swigging drunk . The woman is an easy lay . The streth of the hoax lies , of course , in the fact that it is constructed on a malicious distortion of reality to give it a facade of believability . The tribal does like a drink and has none of the hypocritical duplicity of the middle class towards liquor. That does not maker him a drunkard . The woman is beautiful ; she does not wear a blouse and no-one in her village looks twice at her exposed breasts ; leering is the prerogative of the starved visitor . To equate this with prostitution is the task of the pervert . What has made one tribal an emaciated drunkard and another a prostitute in Raipur or Calcutta is hunger ; gnawing , tearing , shattering hunger . And the last stage of hunger :despair. There is no hoe left of escaping from th web , so lie somnolescent at the centre , praying that destiny grants you a few extra days before the spider inevitably consumes you ..."