It is obvious that as is other spheres, Gandhiji's ideas have a marked influence in the economic sphere also. This is so not only because of the general influence of Gandhiji's ideas on the masses of the people, but also because the leaders of the Congress who are now in power have imbibed his teachings, and are naturally trying to put the same into practice as far as possible.
It is true that we do not have any definite scheme of economic thought evolved by Gandhiji himself, which can be described as Gandhian Economic Thought. His economic ideas are part of his general philosophy of life; they are reflected in his writings and speeches, mixed up with other related topics; they have to be discerned more in his actions, which must be viewed in their entirety not merely in an isolated way. In other words, one has to interpret Gandhiji's economic ideas and build up what may be described as Gandhian Economic Thought from what he did and said in this connection. It should not be difficult for several eminent persons in and out of the Congress organization, who came in intimate touch with him and were in a position to imbibe his ideas firsthand, to help in disentangling Gandhiji's economic thought so that it may help the future generation to understand it better.
Shri J. C. Kumarappa is well-known as one of the trusted disciples of Gandhiji who was asked to carry out his economic ideas into practice and in doing so had obvious opportunities of understanding firsthand Gandhiji's point of view. It is fortunate, therefore, that Shri Kumarappa has been good enough to agree to write this book, in which he has attempted to build up the Gandhian Economic Thought in simple, but effective language. As he rightly points out, there in no such thing as the principles of economics of Gandhiji, According to him two life principles governed all Gandhiji's economic, social, political and other considerations, viz. Truth and Non-violence. It is in the application of these criteria that the Gandhian Economic Thought has been built up. This interesting exposition of Gandhiji's economic ideas by Shri Kumarappa will, I trust, give an impetus to other persons, who had opportunities to come in contact with Gandhiji to throw further light on the same, and help by making suggestions to evolve Gandhian Economic Theory. While such a development may take its own course, enough has been said in this small book to help in understanding more clearly some of the ideas which underlie the official policy of the Congress organization, which directly or indirectly affects the policy of the Government of India, and also of the State Governments.
So far as economic development is concerned, we are again considerably influenced by western ideas and methods as well as Gandhiji's economic ideas which have become a part of the religion of those in power. Because of the absence of any synthesis between these points of view, we find in some cases curious situations because of the imposition of one set of ideas on another without any common link. The country will have to choose, and sooner the choice is made the better, between one
or the other economic policy viz. the conception of the Welfare State as developed in the west, and the conception of economic life as reflected in Gandhiji's ideas. It is possible that to some extent the former can be modified by the influence of the latter. But it is obvious that the approaches of the two are entirely different and cannot be easily reconciled. We may not agree with all that the author says; in fact, there are many statements from which we may differ; what is of importance, however, is how far and in what manner these ideas can be applied to our existing problems and in what way they affect the policy of the present Government. It is hoped that in the better understanding of the climate of economic opinion in the country the effort made by Dr. Kumarappa will be of considerable help.
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