Technology with human focus is not enough; perhaps it is not even ethically right. One could even say that it is this ‘human’ focus that has ravaged the world. Humans focus on themselves; that’s exactly the problem; more mobile phone towers would mean less sparrows! Gandhi’s continued relevance in the changed paradigm is that despite not having been even remotely capable of divining the changes that could take place in quick succession, he could generate tools which are perpetually applicable. What is more, the tools are incredibly simple. You will appreciate that even in software solutions simplicity takes the cake; simpler the solution, greater its value. The rule of ‘KISS’, as they say.
What’s the tool Gandhi employs? It’s the tool of non- attachment, of non-possession. In other words, of ‘Aparigraha’. Once you are detached from the greed for possessions, you automatically tend to be generous; the value of ‘Udaarataa’. You don’t mind giving away what you are not attached to.
But the surprising fact is that when he takes a fundamentally simple (you may say ‘elementary’) position, he also attains a profoundly ‘elemental’ position. How do I say that? Here it is- when you are ‘naturally’ unattached and generous, (i.e. when you are not taking the position of non- attachment and generosity as that of a political strategy or for any short term personal gain) everything seems to fall in place ‘naturally’.
How? Non-attachment translates itself into discreetly limited use of natural resources; that takes care of your environmental concerns. It, surprisingly again addresses the issue of economic disparity as well ! If you are non- attached, where’s the question of accumulation of wealth and consequently, weapons?
Why or how does a simple tool become potent to address issues of perennial import? That’s because it is primarily and essentially truthful. (Remember, it is not a strategy, but a ‘natural’ position.) Gandhi goes on to further postulate that once you take a ‘truthful’ position, it will also turn out to be one which does not violate the laws of nature. To put it differently, a truthful position will always necessarily be a ‘ non-violent’ position. Which was why Gandhi always used to assert that truth and non-violence are complementary. It is this complementarity which he termed ‘God’.
Gandhi opens up infinitely generative possibilities of a highly spiritual (non-materialistic) world view within the realm of religion(s) and out of it. Another reason why Gandhi is dear to the post- modernists as well.
Now the final question which lingers on forever. Aren’t these ideas unattainable and impractical, beautiful as they seem to be? The answer to this question can be two fold. Yes, they are indeed dauntingly unachievable; but that doesn’t detract from their worth. An ideal never becomes unworthy because it is hard to realise. The other answer is even more important in terms of ‘practicality’; you have no choice but to employ this tool of truth and non-violence if you need to survive! Be it from the angle of ecology or that of economics.
Classics continue to be read because they address issues of elemental importance. Gandhi is a classic. Of modern times.