Gandhian Idea of Sustainable Development

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Sustainable Development

  • Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend

Gandhiji and Sustainable Development

  • In 1908, Gandhiji showed us the path for sustainable development through sustainable consumption. In his Hind Swaraj, he outlined the threat to the common future of humanity from our relentless quest for material goods and services.
  • The adoption of some of Gandhiji’s tenets in the SDGs bear testimony to the fact that these were not flights of fancy, but rather, achievable aims. This has been demonstrated by the development model evolved by the Deendayal Research Institute (DRI) and other such institutions

Taking forward Gandhian Legacy

  • Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy influenced not only Indians but many great personalities across the world. Interestingly, it also influenced many a treatise at the international level. But, there is little that the international community attributes to him while drafting the future of the world. 
    • National Level
      • The DRI was set up to perpetuate the memory of Deendayal Upadhyaya, who carried on Gandhiji’s legacy. After his death, his contemporary, Nanaji Deshmukh, undertook the task to translate this philosophy into action.
      • An avowed follower of Gandhiji, Nanaji worked in the most backward districts of the country with a holistic approach, encompassing all aspects and dimensions of human life including education, life sciences, livelihood, technology, and social consciousness. This model can be seen in action in Chitrakoot, Gonda, Beed and Nagpur.
      • Like Gandhiji, Nanaji also felt that villagers are the trustees of the country’s resources. But at the same time, Gandhiji agreed that with technological advancement and changing aspirations of the people, the tools may have to be different.
      • However, he cautioned against unnecessary consumption. Nanaji adopted the same approach while developing his model. Both believed that harmonious growth can be achieved by employing cultural practices.
      • They had an unshakeable faith in the native’s wisdom and intelligence. They strongly believed that it could be achieved only by employing local resources and local talent.
    • International Level
      • In 2008, the then French President Nicholas Sarkozy set up a commission to identify the limits of GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress and to examine what additional information might be required for more relevant indicators of social progress. The commission found that there were vast diversities that govern the development of a region.
      • This is exactly what Gandhi had said a hundred years before the commission was set up. He had underlined the need for a decentralised system of economics and development so that local, distinctive characteristics can be factored in while formulating plans on the basis of statistical information.

Carrying Forward

  • Talking of sustainable development without understanding the true meaning of sustainable consumption will be mere rhetoric. Unless we practice restrained consumption, we cannot avoid exploitation of natural resources, and cannot achieve sustainability in production patterns.

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