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Preserving a Gandhian Dream

The Khadi movement in India was framed as a non-violent protest against foreign control of the economic, cultural and artistic lives of the people. For Gandhi, western economics was a devastating negation of the spiritual identity of an Indian. Self-sufficiency was articulated as an attempt to wrest control from the dominant force of the time – the British empire. However, the spirit of self-sustenance went beyond the rejection of the foreign. Gandhi had a radical and nuanced view of what constituted the Indian nation, that many would now consider not only unviable but perhaps also dangerous. Gandhi insisted that the state empower villages to remain independent economic entities, with local production aligned with local consumption. It promoted a view of the Indian village (historically the truth of this view is disputed but mythically it still holds sway) that existed almost outside of History – as entities that were eternal and unchanging – that were generally left alone by political machinations that were concentrated in cities and frontier areas.

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