Mahatma Gandhi, Khadi & Truth

Two things that might have deeply influenced Mahatma Gandhi must have been the after-effects of the industrial revolution in England and the uninhibited use of untruths in court cases by lawyers.

The birth of socialism and Marx validate my theory for the ill effects of the industrial revolution.

We, in India, know the misery of the jhuggi-jhonpri residents in cities e.g. Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, where high growth of industries had taken place. The situation in England was so worse besides inspiring poets and novelists, it gave the world Karl Marx. Marx was witness to the poverty and sickness of the factory workers in England and elsewhere in Europe. His manifesto was a sort of remedy to reverse it or bring about radical improvements.

Thus was born communism, which led to revolutions in many countries and provided an alternate model to what was branded as capitalism.

The next 70 years, dominated by academic debates on capitalism and communism as well as clashes between the practitioners of the two models, acquired the moniker of ideologies.

Mahatma Gandhi could have easily visualised all that is known today as pollution, climate change, environmental degradation and other undesirable developments threatening life on this planet and calling for urgent remedial action.

Considering the size of the Indian population, unemployment, illiteracy, backwardness and the power of an industrial economy of England, Gandhi innovated the science & technology and economy of Khadi & Village Industries as an alternate  means of providing large scale livelihood at extremely low cost, harnessing the traditional skills of the artisans who were rendered jobless by the British push to sell goods produced mass scale in their industries.

Khadi was an attempt to check the menace of Manchester produced cloth and revive the traditional weaving industry of India, which provided employment to a large population.

Village industries were another means at reviving traditional industries closed down by the British in order to capture the market for mass produced goods by their industries.

The contrast between mill made and hand-made cloth is as striking as that between mill produced sugar and hand-made gur/jaggery in terms of health issues.

The contrast between big industrial units and cottage industry hardly needs to be elaborated, especially when household and cottage industry has been the mainstay of Indian economy for centuries.

The British destroyed these micro enterprises but failed to kill the skills of the entrepreneurs.

Mahatma Gandhi was wise enough to take note of the potential opportunities for improving the economic conditions of the people of India and a powerful tool to hit the economic interests of the British. It didn’t take even a decade to prove the mojo of Gandhi’s innovative ideas.

But for the world wars, they could have brought down the British Empire much before 1947.

The Khadi or the village industries have not been blamed for industrial pollution, environmental degradation or climate change. On the other hand, they have contributed to healthy thoughts and sustainable development without harming in the least the environmental goals.


For Mahatma Gandh’s love for Truth, one has to understand the power of un-truth first.

The Lawyers and judiciary, of which Mahatma Gandhi was a part, certainly hurt his conscience as an Indian gentleman.

After what he saw in practice in South Africa, his faith in the dispensation of justice was shaken. If his running battle with the judiciary first in South Africa and later in India is any indication, he must have seen untruth fetching a premium and truth going for heavy discount. He didn’t pursue the solicitor’s profession.

It needs to be noted that Mahatma Gandhi did not prosecute his assaulters in South Africa or India!

In those moments of churning, Mahatma Gandhi must have realized the power of Truth against the power of untruth in winning the cases in courts.

He insisted on trudging the path of Truth while defending himself before the judge in whatever cases were brought against him.

This visibly unnerved the British judges, who were used to hearing two kinds of arguments from the learned lawyers of the litigants before delivering judgement.

Gandhi put up no false defence and the judge could not rely on the prosecution alone.

The judge had no option but to set Gandhi free without even a fine.

Gandhi successfully tested his Doctrine of Truth in the freedom struggle in India.

He went on using the power of this weapon at his disposal till he asked the British to “quit India”.

To have a real feel of what kind of untruth is resorted in court cases, one must file a case or watch the proceedings in a court of law. I am waiting for the day when all court proceedings will be telecast live, so that the people know how powerful appear the arguments of the lawyers presenting wrong facts as right or false as true or lies as truth. It will also expose judges unable to see the truth and thereby willy-nilly doing injustice in the name of justice. A lawyer, as a doctor, has to remain loyal to his oath and assist the court in delivering justice by upholding Truth and the majesty of justice. But are they doing so? How many Gandhi are doing this kind of legal service to the people or assisting the courts? Are they not inspired by Mahatma Gandhi?

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