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I am author of the books Political Internet(Routledge, 2017), Intimate Speakers ( Fingerprint! 2017), has finished the typescript of three books—first, on Internet and sexuality; second, on the negative impacts of social media; and third, a novel—and is presently working on a narrative non-fiction with the working title Lovescape: Why India is afraid of love.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Gandhi : RAMARAJYA





BY RAMARAJYA I do not mean Hindu Raj. I mean by Ramarajya Divine Raj, the Kingdom of God. For me Rama and Rahim are one and the same deity. I acknowledge no other God but the one God of truth and righteousness.
Whether Rama of my imagination ever lived or not on this earth, the ancient ideal of Ramarajya is undoubtedly one of true democracy in which the meanest citizen could be sure of swift justice without an elaborate and costly procedure. Even the dog is described by the poet to have received justice under Ramarajya. (YI, 19-9-1929, p. 305)

What is this Rama Rajyam?

The word is that of Gandhiji. Sometimes he calls it Dharma Rajyam, sometimes Swarajyam, sometimes Poorna Swarajyam; but essentially and throughout it is Gandhi Rajyam, the kingdom of truth and non-violence. It means self-contained villages, a primitive rural economy, ploughing by men and spinning by women, no machinery. In the relations amongst villages and Provinces and, in a wider sphere, between India and the rest of the world, there will be an all-pervading doctrine of Swadeshi, whereby each village should be content with the articles it produces and the handicrafts-men who produce them; each Province will be self-contained in a similar fashion, and the ideal of an India that is economically complete and coherent, cutting itself off as far as possible from the rest of the world, will be supreme. India will then be like she was before the disastrous contact with Europe began, like what China was before the Opium War, and Japan was before the guns of Comodore Perry's battleships broke on her coasts. There will be no such thing as foreign trade or the enormous fortunes made by merchant-princes or industrial magnates. Machinery being discouraged and non-violence being the creed of the nation, the Indian Army (if India continues to possess so destructive an instrument of violence) will not be equipped with modern arms whose efficiency and technical perfection will be possible only amongst a people believing with religious fervour in modern science and machinery. There will be no modern hospitals because medicine and surgery, as we know it today, is based on investigations and experiments which cause enormous suffering to human beings and lower animals. Lawyers and Law Courts there will be none, because the Jurisprudence, we know, is a foreign importation and Lawyers are parasites on society, and the ideal to be aimed at by Rama Rajyam will be simple arbitration under the village banyan tree.

As far as the State is concerned, Government will vest in the hands of moderately-paid men who will be just and wise and with a continuous regard to the poor and oppressed; over them all, there will be a man of greater wisdom and justice than all the rest. Standards of comfort and luxury will not be permitted to increase in the modern European fashion; on the other hand, the definitely right purpose will be to reduce the demands of material comfort to an irreducible minimum of simplicity. In the matter of religion also, there will be a doctrine of Swadeshi in virtue of which men and women will be encouraged to continue under the outer labels into which they might be born; a Hindu that sees beauty or finds satisfaction in Islam being counselled to engraft such elements of Islam into his own religious life as a Hindu and not to call himself a Muslim. The theory at the back of this position is a fundamental latitudinarianism which says that each religion is as good as another and that in the matters of spirit no one vision of God-head can be superior to any other. State and society will therefore discourage inter-religious conversions, and institutions like hospitals and colleges and schools which are run by Missionaries of religion will not be permitted. But curiously enough, though all religions are regarded as of equal value, there is a hierarchy of merit, inequality of virtue in civilisations and culture. Far from counting all civilisation as one and entire, a common heritage of humanity, Indian civilisation is contrasted with European civilisation and a definite effort made to exorcise the methods and standards of value of Europe out of India, out of Rama Rajyam, as an evil thing beyond the pale of toleration. In the deepest analysis, this conception of State and society is founded on a repudiation of the State and on the patient evolution of individual selves which, by the discipline of Varna and Ashrama, through a series of incarnations, will be beyond the necessity of any order from outside,–a magnificent ideal of anarchy of the spirit. No room is allowed in this scheme for the common human experience that the vast majority of men and women are prone to sin and error, greed and personal self-seeking, and that they can be kept in order and decent behaviour only by an external authority that is pledged to the laying down of laws and their enforcement.

If Europe would not listen to reason but only to superior guns, the only thing left for Japan was to manufacture the superior guns (however crude and wrong the method of guns might be), and Japan decided, in spite of instinctive revulsion against the use of force, to learn modern military science and to undergo the long, hard discipline of European scientific schools. She deliberately sacrificed her ideals of rural beauty (prettier far than anything conceived by Gandhiji), and reconciled herself to modern machinery and industrial organisation, because she saw that only by handling machinery and developing foreign trade she would be able to manufacture heavy guns and battleships and munitions, and make use of the wealth accumulated in industry and commerce to keep the fighting nations at bay and maintain her honour and self-respect. The Chinese experiment is later in point of time, but in spirit and essence China is following the example of Japan. Chinese civilization and institutions are nearly as old as the Vedas, and her political history covers a longer period of continuity than that of Rome. In spite of it all, she has not been prevented by any wrong notion of national egoism from putting herself to school at the feet of Europe, if only thereby she could learn the methods and forge the instruments of modern Government whereby she could save herself from exploitation by Europe. The victory of Japan over Russia was dramatic and visible to all the world, as also her emergence as one of the Great Powers of the world. But the resuscitation of China and her steady progress to freedom and the assertion of self-respect are no less real. If we turn to the Islamic countries, this process of modernisation so that their liberties may not be endangered by the undoubted might and organising power of Christian Europe, is in full swing. Turkey overthrew an effete Khilafat and renewed herself as a republic on the morrow of her defeat in war and humiliation in the Treaty of Severes. Her statesmen took refuge in Angora and they modernised her in the middle of the war against the Greeks. Ghazi Mustapha Kemal Pasha has converted Turkey into a modern State; he has reclothed her people in European habiliments, taught them Roman script, abolished the purdah; he has made Europe and his own people understand that Turkey is a modern State and will insist on being respected as a modern State, capable of diplomacy and of war, having wealth and industry and all the conveniences and luxuries of the present age. Though Amanulla Khan was driven away from Afghanistan on account of the rapid pace of his experiment in modernisation, King Nadir Shah is of the same spirit in spite of his caution and clearer understanding of his people. The moral of all these examples is that, though Europe has been an evil during recent years, she was an evil to herself and to others because of the disparity of her strength and their weakness, her efficiency and their inadjustability to modern needs. The conditions of her strength are free institutions, Government by debate, and the unhesitating use of force in the furtherance of national policy. If other nations, including India, can secure for themselves political freedom by these methods and maintain them and make it clear to Europe that they would not tolerate any interference by her in their affairs, the supremacy of Europe in science, arts, methods of war and diplomacy need not be a curse to humanity. This solution necessarily presupposes that non-European peoples will, in the interests of their efficiency and the peaceable development of the world, learn of Europe all that Europe has got to teach and use that learning to preserve the balance of power amongst the nations of the earth. However good or pathetically beautiful other philosophies and social ideals may be, we have to frankly acknowledge that for the time being Europe has the secret of power and she can be beaten only by those who share the secret with her. There may be an evil magic in it; but it is an evil only to those who are ignorant of it. If India is to secure release from political slavery, and maintain freedom as a precious possession of her children, and as long as Governments should subsist, amongst other things, on war and wealth, and as long as the standards of fighting and opulence are set by Europe, it is an idle dream to imagine that we can survive on any other terms.

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