Mahatma Gandhi’s grand daughter of Elaben Gandhi has raised some important questions over the proposed Rs 12000 mega project on Sabarmati Satyagrah Ashram Ahamdabad.
Ram Dutt Tripathi, former correspondent of BBC, interviewed Smt. Ela Gandhi, grand daughter of Mahatma Gandhi on Phoenix Settlement which Gandhi founded near Durban, South Africa way back in 1904. In the course of the interview he also raised question on the proposed redevelopment of Sabarmati aashram by the Indian government.
Full interview is available in the YouTube Channel of Media Swaraj.
Here are excerpts of the interview related to the Sabarmati Satyagrah Ashram.
Ram Dutt Tripathi : In India we have Sevagram Ashram and Sabarmati Ashram. The Government wants to make a lot of changes in it to make it world class. In a way they want to develop a tourist complex. All Gandhian and Sarvodaya workers and institutions are not agreeing to it. They are saying that it is a heritage of freedom struggle and it has to be preserved as it is. It should not be developed like a mall or adopt a mall culture. What is your view point on these?
Ela Gandhi: So the first thing is Bapuji’s economic understanding, that is, Economy of Permanence.
I would like to ask you that the Economy of Permanence visualizes malls?
Can you have a mall within that economic understanding?
If you look at Bapuji’s economic understanding, does a mall have a place in that? Would he agree to a mall today?
In my conception he talked about simplicity, the idea of providing goods for everybody. Like simple things or goods. Like Khadi Bhandar does, you can spin and take your cotton; you don’t have to use money. You don’t need to get money. You can take the cotton and go to Khadi Bhandar and buy your food. Khadi Bhandar doesn’t sell only Khadi. It sells food, it sells healthy food, it sells medicines, and it looks at all your requirements. Look at Khadi Bhandar, which is the kind of mall that Gandhiji would like.
He wouldn’t look at big buildings, at posh buildings because those are not things that conserve. For instance you know in all these buildings we build, how much sand has to be dug out ? Whether the world has enough sand to make these big buildings? These are some of the considerations that we need to take into account.
Bapuji said that when you build a place in your neighbourhood for instance, look at Phoenix. What can Phoenix have? What does it grow in the surrounding areas and use the material that is around you in order to build the house? Not trying to import, not trying to excavate. What happens when we try to excavate from our rivers from our seas the sand that is needed for building. We are depleting the environment and we are not conserving. These are the considerations that have to be taken into account.
If Bapuji’s message has to go out from Sabarmati Ashram and from Sevagram Ashram we must look at how that message goes out. You know Bapuji talked about Nonviolence. Can the message of nonviolence be taken from Sevagram or Sabarmati when you are killing animals or killing people right outside Sabarmati Ashram? Then what is nonviolence? Where is Bapuji’s message of nonviolence?
So If you want to preserve it or if you don’t want to preserve it and we want to kill it and we can just close the place and do whatever we want to do in that place.
If you want to preserve Bapuji’s message then we must learn about Bapuji’s message and preserve it in the way he would have wanted us to preserve it.