Gandhian Economics: Swaraj, Swadeshi, Sarvodaya
An international Conference organised by
Indian Institute of Advanced Study
Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
From 15-16 October 2019
at IIAS, Shimla
as part of the
Sesquicentenary Birth Anniversary Celebration of Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi not only led India’s struggle against British colonialism, but was also the man who had the greatest influence in his time on the idea of India in the minds of its own people and the world at large. Fondly called the Father of the Nation, the Mahatma’s life and teachings spanned all aspects of societal life, from education, economics, and spirituality to politics. 150 years after his birth, these ideas continue to affect policies and instil inspiration in the upcoming generation of leaders and thinkers. Given the transformational advances in science and technology, and groundbreaking research in social sciences emerging every day, Gandhi’s life, work, and thought need to be revisited from a fresh perspective and re-examined. “Gandhian Economics: Swaraj, Swadeshi, Sarvodaya” is a part of a series of events planned to commemorate Gandhi’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
The term “Gandhian Economics” has been attributed to J.C. Kumarappa who articulated its chief assumptions and tenets in a slim book called Gandhian Economic Thought (1951). Gandhi believed than the meeting of legitimate human needs rather than the gratification of endless desires ought to be the basis of economic thought and planning. As such, for Gandhi economics was as much a part of ethics as ethics was a part of politics. In an ethical society, which he called “Swaraj,” rational actors would exercise self-restraint and responsibility for their fellow human and non-human living beings rather than consuming recklessly and destroying the environment. Gandhi was against economies of scale and gigantic mechanized means of harnessing human labour and controlling capital. As such, he was a critic of both the dominant models of economics of his time, i.e. capitalism and socialism.
Steering a middle course between them, Gandhi was a firm proponent of Swadeshi or local production coupled with economic self-sufficiency. He envisaged that village-level and grassroots institutions could be the driving forces of the Indian economy. He placed great emphasis on the preservation of the traditional village cottage industry. Today Gandhian Economics has emerged as a recognized school of thought which serves as an amalgam of Gandhi’s spirituality and his socioeconomic ideas. As the world today faces existential dilemmas on climate change, inequality, corruption, and so on, it bodes well to explore Gandhi’s ideas on these issues. What is more, it is important to interrogate and debate these ideas rather than merely reiterating or praising them.
The sub-themes for the conference on “Gandhian Economics” would include the following topics:
1. Gandhi’s idea of trusteeship vs contemporary notions of philanthropy
2. Self-sufficiency through local production (economic decentralization vs. capitalism)
3. Swadeshi as an economic concept—“small is beautiful” vis a vis mass production
4. Gandhi’s critique of consumption.
5. Economics and ecology
6. Living standards and bread labour
7. Gandhi & Deendayal Upadhyaya on Sarvodaya (welfare of all) and Antyodaya (welfare of the last person)
8. Gandhi’s idea of an economy based on needs rather than wants in the age of consumerism
9. Gandhi’s dharmic economics vs Nehru’s socialism
10. Machines vs hands; economics as raising the human spirit rather than turning man into machine
A limited number of participants will be invited for the Seminar. Those interested in participating should send (preferably by email) an abstract (500 words) of the proposed paper along with their brief bio of around 200 words to:
1. Ms. Ritika Sharma
Academic Resource Officer,
Indian Institute of Advanced Study,
Rashtrapati Nivas, Shimla- 171005
Tel: 0177-2831385 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The last date for submission of abstract (500 words) is 9 October 2019 till 12:00 midnight. It is the policy of the Institute to publish the papers not proceedings of the seminars it organizes. IIAS, Shimla will be glad to extend its hospitality (free hospitality is provided only to the seminar participant) during the seminar period and is willing to reimburse, if required, rail or air travel expenses from the place of current residence in India, or the port of arrival in India, and back.
Note: Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and the Institute reserves the right to cancel the selection/participation of a candidate found guilty at any stage
Phone (0177) 2831376, 2832195
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