What would be your response if you heard the words Gandhi and technology in the same sentence? No one would associate Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, associated with science and technology in any way, shape or form.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about the freedom struggle? Surely, one of them is not technology, is it? However, we are going to discuss about Gandhi’s suggestions on eradicating poverty during the freedom struggle via science & technology.
Many people are aware of his contributions to the Indian Independence Movement like the Sabarmati Ashram, Salt Dandi March, Quit India Movement, among many others but nothing much in the field of science & technology.
If you were to look at some of his photos, it becomes abundantly clear that Gandhi had very a very strong opinion on technology and modernity and was not really passionate about it and, in fact, was a passionate opponent of it.
He refused to wear a business suit and instead preferred a loincloth, he always used a pencil instead of a typewriter, and many of his associates have said that he much preferred a plowed field to a belching manufactory.
Many people, even today, say that had the processor existed or had come out during his lifetime, he would have completely abhorred it because the word itself has a technological ring to it that he would not have been fond of.
However, while Gandhi was against technology, he had, it seems, strong reasons to feel that because he did not like the de-humanizing aspect of machinery and was highly worried about the inequality that modern technology and mechanization might create.
But he always preferred machines that were of use to the masses and improved their lives in a much better way by reducing manual labour considerably. He felt the singer sewing machine was the best invention ever created and was always on the lookout for ways to make the charkha look even better and wanted the entire nation to use it.
While he was absolutely fine with the modern ways of living, as long as it did not interfere or counter his past learning, he was, till the end, extremely wary of a modern outlook of life and the impact it could have in the future.
This is why he always encouraged people against following the industrial revolution that had taken over the west by storm and had firmly entrenched itself in India as well. Gandhi did his best to stop industrialization from growing and festering in India because he felt the increase in machinery usage increased manufacturing output.
Hind Swaraj, published by him in 1909, has a whole chapter where Gandhi claimed that modern day machinery had completely enslaved a whole new generation of the Indian population in a similar manner to the British by making them completely dependent upon it, as well as arguing that modern day civilization was misusing machinery as a tool by filling the pockets of few people whilst financial hurting the poor even more.
There are many people who argue that Mahatma Gandhi, whilst being a staunch critic of modern machinery, the reality was different because he saw the charkha as the proverbial symbol that will help the nation to freedom where the entire nation enslaved by colonial British Empire could break free from their shackles and stand on their own feet.
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