"The normal planner proceeds like this; he makes a theoretical approach. It is very good in theory, but it sometimes ignores certain human factors. He says that for this item we want production, and the best way to have production is, say, to put up a factory or something at a place where it will yield most results.
The result is that they go on gathering factories and such like things at special locations. As they gather production units, it becomes easier to start still another factory there. That may be logical, and that may yield more production, but it is not a very human approach, considering the size of India.
I begin to think more and more of Mahatma Gandhi's approach. It is odd that I am mentioning his name in this connection. I am entirely an admirer of the modern machine, and I want the best machinery and the best technique, but, taking things as they are in India, however, rapidly we advance towards the machine age- and we will do so- the fact remains that large numbers of our people are not touched by it and will not be for a considerable time. Some other method has to be evolved so that they become partners in production, even though the production apparatus of theirs may not be efficient as compared to modern technique, but we must use that, for, otherwise, it would be wasted. That idea has to be kept in mind. We should think more of the very poor countrymen of ours and do something to improve their lot as quickly as we can. This problem is troubling me a great deal."
- Nehru, Reply to the Debate on Planning, Lok Sabha, Dec 11 1963
I am one of the relics of the Gandhian days. Economists like Dr.Rao used to criticise the spinning wheel. They said: “ What has that to do in our age of machinery?” That criticism was right from many points of view. Yet what Gandhiji did was fundamentally right. He was looking all the time at the villages of India, at the most backward people in India in every sense, and he devised something. It was not merely the spinning wheel; that was only a symbol. He laid a stress on the village industries, which again to the modern mind does not seem much worthwhile.
- Speech at a Seminar on Social Welfare in a Developing Economy, New Delhi, September 22, 1963
We put up huge steel plants and the like, which please us and build up morale and all that, but hundreds of millions of people cannot be asked to wait for some future age for betterment in their living standards. It is too much for them to do so. Therefore, we have to think also of other kinds of developments for the mass of our people even if it raises them only slightly.
Therein lies the virtue of Mahatma Gandhi's teachings. People think that he was against machinery. I don't think he was against it. He did not want machinery except in the context of the well-being of the mass of our people. What he suggested - cottage industry - was something which immediately benefited the people, not only in regard to employment but also in production.
- Speech at a Seminar on Social Welfare in a Developing Economy, New Delhi, Sep 22, 1963
Some people take rather a narrow and lop-sided view of Gandhiji. None of us perhaps is fully capable of understanding all the aspects of his many-sided character. We cling to one or two aspects not realising that we do not see the whole of that remarkable personality. Many, I suppose, took the letter of what he said and paid little attention to the spirit, to the underlying philosophy for which he stood. You will remember that often he let us have some glimpses into his mind which would show that that mind was deep and wide and looked not only at the millions of our people but at the whole of humanity.
Functioning at a particular moment in India as the leader of a great struggle against a mighty empire, he brought methods and tools into play which were particularly suited for that struggle as well as for the constructive activity of the nation. He laid stress on village industries and, curiously enough, even those who were critical of him, who were sceptical about village industries and the like, today stand for village industries and the development of our rural areas. Others have arrived only gradually and through painful processes of reasoning at the conclusion he arrived at intuitively.
- Speech at the inauguration of Production at the Integral Coach Factory, Perambur, Chennai, October 2, 1955
The whole philosophy of Gandhi, although he did not talk perhaps in the modern language, was not only one of social justice, but of social reform and land reform. All these concepts were his.
- Speech on the No-Confidence Motion against the Government, Lok Sabha, August 22, 1963.