A rich and complex personality like Mahatma Gandhi would appear in different lights to different observers. As it appears, Gandhian Political Thought immediately concerns all individuals of all nations due to the nature of the tension-ridden-age. Being a child of the Indian tradition, his ideas have become a part of the intellectual heritage of modern man almost everywhere. Gandhiji was typical Indian but became international and did not belong to anyone country (Azad, 1953) . As a philosopher of action in dependent India he struggled for Freedom, Equality and Democracy which had unique appeal to men and women all over the world. Consequently, he became a teacher and friend of humanity by fighting for the pillars of the edifice of democracy.
Gandhiji’s attitude was essentially experimental and scientific. His ideas were tested in the furnace of his own experience. This is way he continually altered the details of his programme to suit the requirements of the particular situation. This flexibility and experimental attitude ensure that Gandhian principle can be applied to any country or any age provided the necessary modification in techniques is made.
As the child of the
2. Gandhi’s Views on Democracy
“Democracy”, he defined as the art and science of mobilizing the entire physical, economic and spiritual resources of all the various sections of the people in the service of the common good of all (Harijan, 1939) . Such a comprehensive definition of democracy far surpasses the previous one’s. It is not only political or popular in its significance. Rather, it is at the sometime, materialistic, spiritual, as well as utilitarian having faith in equality, justice and fair play. His notion of democracy was that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest. For realizing that ideal, he prescribed the instrument of non-violence. Non-violence for him, was not merely a principle to govern all battles against injustice, it was a life-long creed for him. In fact, he developed non-violence as a way of life. Achievement of political independence or Swaraj was dependent upon the Gandhian instrument of non-violent Satyagraha. Thus, his constructive programme is the modus operandi of ideal democracy. In India, it is practically village work which is indispensable for the emancipation of the nation.
“Swaraj”, according to him is the government by many (Young India, 1921) . Attainment and maintenance of Swaraj necessitated a group of dedicated and patriotic people to whom the good of the nation is paramount above all other considerations. Gandhiji wanted the educated classes to build up a large cadre of wholly dedicated man for progress-social, economic and political. The aim was to enlist their support in the task of winning freedom of the country. That is why, instead of building one select political party of his own (Congress), he wanted to transform that biggest democratic organization of the country into the instrument of liberation of the masses of
Since Swaraj meant self-government people must learn to rule themselves (Hind Swaraj, 1938) . He believed in the concept of popular sovereignty. The political manifestation is but a concrete expression of the individual’s soul force. As people get the government they deserve, self-government can come only through self-effort. He believed that, people are the roots, the State is the fruit. If the roots are sweet, the fruits are bound to be sweet (Young India, 1928) . The outward expression of freedom should be proportionate to the inward freedom. Gandhiji thereby makes Swaraj more philosophical, spiritual and moral in character. Self-government is dependant entirely upon our internal strength, upon our ability to fight against the heaviest odds.
Swaraj of my dream is the poor man’s Swarj (Young India, 1931) . It is here that Gandhiji emerges as a proletarian Democrat who also thought of abridging the gulf between the rich and the poor, the weak and the strong. Ordinary amenities of life should be similarly and identically available to everyone in the Society. Consequently, there was to be the elimination of exploitation through perseverance and patience. Self-government was attainable through a continuous endeavor to be independent. He also distinguished between individual and national self-government. National or political self government was to be attained precisely by the same means that are required for individual self-government or self-rule. As every human institution is liable to be greatly abused, democracy is no exception to that universal principle. Democracy required reduction of possibility of abuse of power to a minimum.
Like John Stuart Mill, Gandhiji distinguished between Real and Deceptive democracy. (Prabhu, 1961) Real democracy cannot be imposed from without but comes from within spontaneously. To be a real democrat, there is the need for complete identification with the poorest of mankind. Further, a nation that runs its affairs smoothly without much State interference is truly democratic. Where such a condition is absent, the form of government may be democratic only in name. Individual freedom can have the fullest play under a regime of unadulterated Ahimsa (Non-Violence). Most modern States are either undemocratic or at best democratic in form rather than in spirit.
Gandhiji never believed either in aristocratic democracy or centralized government and administration. “True Democracy”, he argued “cannot be worked by twenty men sitting at the centre it had to be worked from below by the people of every village (Harijan, 1948) . The end was “the greatest good of all”. This utilitarian end can be realized only in a classless and stateless society which he anticipated in the long run. It was to be a democracy of autonomous village republics based on non-violence instead of coercion, on service instead of exploitation, on renunciation or instead acquisitiveness and on local and individual initiative instead of centralization (Dhawan, 1946) . This makes him a philosophical anarchist of first order.
He, like Mill, emerges as a reluctant democrat. By advocating the indispensability of education, he insisted on Basic education. Educational opportunity was considered fundamental to economic opportunity for developing the non-violent democratic system. In addition, to safeguard democracy, people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect and oneness. They should insist upon choosing as their representatives only such persons as are good and true. He was wedded to the principle of Universal Adult Suffrage as it satisfied all the reasonable aspirations of all classes of people. Carlyle equates Manhood suffrage with Horsehood and Dog-hood, Ruskin distrusts the populace. Gandhiji’s ideal, like that of Carlyle, is the rule of the wisest.
The non-violent democracy of Gandhiji implied mass efforts and mass education. The devices were those of Satyagraha expressed through the Charkha, the village industries, primary education through handicrafts, removal of untouchability, communal harmony, prohibition and non-violent organization of labor. He wanted non-violence, to be the cardinal principle of democracy. “All Society is held together by non-violence, even as the earth is held in position by gravitation.” (Harijan, 1939) That is why he devoted his energies to the propagation of non-violence as the law of our life-individual, social, political, national and international. A non-violent democratic Society alone can provide adequate protection to the weak and the downtrodden. He had discovered the presence of violence in western democracies of England, America and
By spiritualizing politics, he championed the cause of individual liberty and freedom. In non-violent Swaraj, there can be no encroachment upon just rights; contrariwise, on one can possess unjust rights. In a well-organized State, usurpation should be an impossibility. Further, it should be unnecessary to resort to force for dispossessing a usurper. The aim was to realize the best hidden in human nature. Everyone will be his own master and the will be equal freedom for all. Enlightened Public opinion can alone keep a Society pure and healthy. Individual freedom can make a man voluntarily surrender himself completely to the service of Society. Unrestricted individualism is the law of the beast of the jungle. Willing submission to social restraint for the sake of well being of the whole Society, enriches both the individual and the Society of which he is a member.
He viewed with alarm the presence of politics and factions in the villages, as they are found in the cities. But it was to be the duty of majority to see that minorities receive a proper hearing. Swaraj will be an absurdity if individuals have to surrender their judgment to the majority. In matters of conscience, the law of majority should have application in matters of detail only. Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep (Young India, 1922) . The minority also has a perfect right to act differently from the majority.
The ideal both Gandhiji and the Socialists is non-violent democracy by bringing about refinement of the average man’s nature to the demands of social service. Gandhiji, in fact, believes in an unrealizable ideal that is internal democracy based on pacificator discipline. The need was for spiritual transformation or psychological metamorphosis of both the ruler and the ruled since democracy cannot make fools wisemen necessarily. His constructive programme required a change of heart which seems impossible and impracticable in the contemporary materialistic world of ours. The Gandhian scheme envisages a
3. Impact of Gandhism on the Indian Constitution
Making of the Constitution of India was not the result of a single individual or a single programme or proposal. Democratic decision-making of the Constituent Assembly helped to make possible, a generally acceptable Constitution.
As the chief architect of
There is nothing like “the best Constitution” for all countries and for all times, forms of government must be shaped according to past historic traditions and present circumstances. The Constitution is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end. It is to be judged not by some standard of values peculiar to and distinctive of the state but by the standard of the quality of the lives of the people. While the ends of various types of the State may be fundamentally identical, their forms are bound to be dissimilar in accordance with local environments. Accordingly, Gandhiji wanted that a constitution should be framed with the background of Indian traditions and the ancient Indian institutions for national reconstruction. He never wanted to be blind to the experiences of other nations and to develop a kind of narrow nationalism. “But it is high time for us to realize that our sense of inferiority complex must go, and instead of always looking within. We have aped the West for long, let us now be proud of our Indian culture and institutions in the right spirit.” (Agrawal, 1946) Administrative systems cannot and should not be transplanted, since “constitutions are not exportable commodities”. Thus, Gandhiji wanted an India-made or home-made Constitution (Wheare, 1960) . The Constituent Assembly should be an indigenous institution representing the will of the people in order to bring about representative manifestation of Indian tradition, Indian culture and institutions (Harijan, 1946) .
Clear impact of Gandhian philosophy is evident from the Preamble, the Fundamental Rights, and the Directive principles of State policy (Agrawal, 1946) . The term “we the people of India” is in the way different from the Gandhian concept of Constitution “to secure to all citizens Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the Unity of the Nation…”
The Fundamental Rights in Part III of the Constitution constitutes one of the areas approximate to Gandhian ideology to usher in an era of political democracy of Swaraj. A code of written civil Rights for the
For bringing about economic democracy, the Directive Principles of State Policy aim at social revolution and economic betterment. It was to be done through village industries (Art. 43), compulsory education for children (Art. 45) Prohibition (Art. 47), living wages for workers (Art. 43), village Panchayats (Art. 40) and ban on cow slaughter (Art. 48) etc. Article 38 is quite comprehensive in expecting the State to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting, as effectively as it may, a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life. Articles 45 and 46 dealing with the provisions for free and compulsory education of children and with the promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections of the community can be termed as Articles bearing perceptible vibration of Gandhian ideology (Constituent Assembly Debates, 1948) .
Gandhiji by opposing communal electorate had advocated universal adult suffrage as a national and democratic measure (Markhandan, 1966) . The doctrine found favour and adorned the Constitution as Articles 125 and 126. Though Gandhiji was opposed to bicameralism, it was considered advantageous and indispensable for a federal polity in modern times. Regarding the protection of interests of the minorities, Articles 331 and 333 empower the President and Governor respectively to nominate Anglo Indians, if not represented by election. Special reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the State Legislatures and the Union Parliament continues (Motilal Nehru Report, 1928) . Arts. 336 and 340 provide a machinery to protect the interests of the minorities. Gandhiji wanted Hindustani i.e., a mixture of Hindi and Urdu as the Rastrabhasa of India. Art. 343 provides Hindi in Devangari script to be the official language of the
The deviation from the Gandhian principles by the Constituent Assembly reveals in exaggerated terms, the gulf between the Congress and Gandhiji, and between the teacher and the taught. The Gandhian concept of decentralized political institutions came to be replaced by a liberal democratic parliamentary form of government with a centralized federation (Constituent Assembly Debates, 1948) . All this proves that the Congress and the Congressmen had been slowly drifting away from Gandhian ideology. The leaders had gained considerable experience of the working of representative government. Based on the knowledge and experience in parliamentary system of government, there was more or less universal demand for such a form of government in the new Constitution, in view of the training and commitment of a large number of western-educated elites to western ideology. Further, the deviation was precipitated in view of the prevailing circumstances in the country. The Interim Government faced problems like famine, shortage of food grains, communal riots, partition, Pakistan invasion on
4. His Ideal Society
Gandhiji in Hind Swaraj, and such other publications had outlined the nature and character of his Ideal Society or the
According to Gandhiji, violence leads to concentration whereas non-violence encourages decentralization of administration. Gandhiji advocates the superstructure of an indirect decentralized democracy of self-sufficient and autonomous
5. Decentralized Democracy
The village Panchayat was to be the primary political unit consisting of about five persons to be elected for a period of three years on the basis of universal adult suffrage. It was to be the basic unit of public administration, being self-governing and self-sufficient, and having autonomous status. Above it, was to be the Taluk (Tehsil), District, Provincial and the All-India Panchayat connected with each other by their Presidents on the basis of ex-officio composition (Socialist Party, 1948) . Thus, the system of government was to be indirect and each unit was to exercise wide and comprehensive powers concerning all aspects of life in the concerned field. The President of all All-India Panchayat was to be the Head of the State and Government having the powers to appoint Ministers even from outside the panchayat. Consequently, the indirectly-elected executive was to be non-responsible also. However, Gandhiji wanted the Village Panchayat to be the basis of the indirect and decentralized system of government.
The Constituent Assembly which consisted of large number of Gandhites opted for parliamentary democracy of British variety based on direct election in preference to the Gandhian suggestion. Euro-American experience rather than indigenous practice counted much. The Debates and Minutes of the Constituent Assembly make no mention of the Panchayat as the basis of our political system. The Drafting Committee rejected the Gandhian idea of
The Gandhian ideas were a peculiar type of proletarian Socialism combined with non-violent democracy by bringing about refinement of the average man’s nature to the demands of social service. Thus, he believes in an unrealizable idea that is internal democracy based on pacificator discipline. But democracy cannot make fools wise men necessarily. His constructive programme required a change of heart and was highly idealistic in character. He himself had witnessed the failure of his scheme during his lifetime. It also seems impossible and impracticable in the contemporary materialistic world of ours to envisage a