Gandhi would certainly have been an avid advocate of the Internet
When his devout but outspoken young follower, Dr. Rammanohar Lohia, who asked him in 1940 to clarify his views on industrialization, explained Gandhi: “I visualize electricity, shipbuilding, ironworks, mechanical engineering and the like side by side with village handicrafts. “
In a letter to Jawaharlal Nehru on October 5, 1945, Gandhi openly mentioned the “difference of views between us” but added, “While I admire modern science, I find that it is the old, in the true light of the modern Science that should be properly dressed and remodeled …[a] The number of things needs to be organized on a large scale. It is possible to imagine railways, post and telegraph offices, etc. I don’t know what things will or will not be. I don’t care either. If I can concentrate on the essentials, more will follow in due course. “
His reference to “Telegraph” is of great importance. It was the most advanced, machine-controlled, near-instantaneous, and remote communication system at the time. In many ways, it was a precursor to the Internet – a point that Tom Standage convincingly emphasized in his book, The Victorian Internet.
Is the Internet the replacement for the spinning wheel he’s looking for? Can it be metaphorically seen as the avatar of the Charkha? I explored this question in my book Music of the Spinning Wheel: Mahatma Gandhi’s Manifesto for the Internet Age.
(The author was an adviser to former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He recently founded the Forum for a New South Asia, promoting cooperation between India, Pakistan and China. He welcomes comments at [email protected] He tweeted @SudheenKulkarni This is a statement and the views expressed are the author’s own. The quint neither endorsed nor responsible for them.)
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