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Gandhi and his Concept of Democratic Decentralization

M. Shafi Bhat

Post Doctoral Fellowship Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) JNU Institutional Area, New Delhi - 110 067, INDIA.


The concept of Decentralization marks the culmination of Mahatma Gandhi’s Experiment with Truth and Non-Violence in the varied aspect of life. It played a crucial role in fulfilling Gandhi’s dream of rebuilding India from bottom upwards so as to strengthen the villages as self- sufficient and self- ruling units of administration. He was of the opinion that the soul of India consists in her innumerable villages. Gandhiji proclaimed that if once the villages perish India too will perish, find its fullest expression in his conception of village or Gram Swaraj. Gandhiji said, “My idea of village swaraj is a complete republic, independent of its neighbors for its vital wants, and yet interdependent for, many others in which dependence is a necessity.’’ Village swaraj provides the key to understand the concept of decentralization. Gandhiji’s concept of decentralization was not an isolated concept but the outcome of ethico-religious, sociopolitical and economic concepts and ideas. Gandhiji was of the view that life is a unity and hence it cannot be compartmentalized into ethical, social, religious, political, economic and so on. All the different departments of life act and react upon each other. Hence, the ethics of society necessarily involve ethics of other fields. All these directly or indirectly flow from the main theme of decentralization. This ethical outlook is the backbone of Gandhiji’s life and message. Gandhiji’s philosophy is nothing if not religious and moral.

Keywords :Gandhiji’s concept, Gandhiji’s philosophy, Truth and Non-Violence.