B. N. Rau –Retrieving the Lost Memory in the Constitution Making from the Labyrinth of Competitive Politics Dr. A. Raghu Kumar avadhanamraghukumar@gmail.com

“The distinction between the past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion” Albert Einstein

Nations being governed by the Constitution, the grund norm in Hans Kelsen’s diction, is a modern phenomenon. The idea of attempting a constitution for the guidance of the general conduct of societies gained momentum with the French Revolution (1789-1799), the American War of Independence (1775-1783), and its constitution making in these two countries. But both countries and its peoples remember its makers vividly even today. Constitutions are made with longtime visions of the nation in view and are made mostly in generally defined terms, with fewer particularities. The nuances are left for the future dispensations. The opportunity of participating in the making of the Constitution of a nation rarely comes and when it comes, the men with wisdom and living with a sense of presence can never refuse to take the burden unto them, and mostly with unbound enthusiasm. Such an occasion came to Indian people by the end of 1945-1946. When the Cabinet Mission made its plan public on 16 May 1946, the whole nation waved with new passion.

Granville Austin , in one of the best and most precise account of the making of the Indian Constitution noted: “Gandhi expressed the truth of the necessity of Constituent Assembly first – that India must shape their own destiny, that only in the hands of Indians could India become herself when in 1922 he said that Swaraj would not be the gift of the British Parliament, but must spring from ‘the wishes of the people of India as expressed through their freely chosen representatives.” The Indian National Congress made the demand for a constituent assembly part of its official policy since 1934. Rejecting the White Paper of 1933, released by the British-India Government, known also as “The proposals for Indian Constitutional Reform”, the Congress Working Committee resolved: “The only satisfactory alternative to the White Paper is a constitution drawn up by a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of adult franchise or as near it as possible, with the power, if necessary, to the important minorities to have their representations elected exclusively by the electors belonging to such minorities.” Thereafter, in many provincial legislative assemblies and in the central legislative assembly in 1937, at the Congress at Faizpur, Haripura, and Tripuri, and at the Simla Conference in 1945, the Congress reiterated that India could only accept a constitution drawn from the people and framed ‘without any interference by a foreign authority.’

Britain accepted the idea that an elected body of Indians should frame the Indian Constitution. It was in this atmosphere that the newly elected Labour Government announced in September 1945 that it was contemplating the creation of a constituent body in India and ordered that national elections be held during the winter so that freshly created provincial legislatures would be ready to act as electoral bodies for a constituent assembly. The British government followed this move in January 1946 by sending a Parliamentary Delegation to India, which reported that the tide of independence was running fast, and then by dispatching a Cabinet mission in the following March. The Indian Independence Act passed by the British Parliament came into effect on 15 August 1947, giving legality to the Constituent Assembly, the status it had assumed since its inception. The Cabinet Mission Plan became outmoded, and the Constituent Assembly settled down to draft free India’s constitution.

Austin observes that: ‘The Constituent Assembly was a one-party body in an essentially one party country. The Assembly was the Congress and the Congress was India.’ ‘The Assembly, the Congress and the Government were, like the points of a triangle, separate entitles, but, linked by over-lapping membership, they assumed a form infinitely meaningful for India.’ In the elections held for the Members of the Constituent Assembly, of the total 1585 seats in the provincial assemblies, the Congress won 925 or 58 per cent. Although the outcome of the Assembly elections in July 1946 had made the Congress master of the Assembly, party policy ensured that Congress members there represented the country. After partition, when the composition of the Assembly, except for the representation of the Princely States, had become settled, the minorities were ensured that they had 88 of the 235 seats allotted to the provinces, or 37 percent, of the provincial membership. Additionally, as has been pointed out, the ideological spectrum of the Assembly was broadened by the inclusion of non-Congress ‘experts’ as well as by the diverse nature of the Congress membership itself. In the words of K.Santhanam , ‘There was hardly any shade of public opinion not represented in the Assembly.’

Nehru, Patel, Prasad, and Azad, in fact, constituted ‘an oligarchy’ within the Assembly. Austin said about their role in gripping terms: ‘their honor was unquestioned, their wisdom hardly less so. In their god-like status they may have been feared; certainly they were loved.’ The Congress Assembly Party, a unit formed by Congress for overseeing the Constitution making process, was the unofficial and private forum that debated every provision of the Constitution, and in most cases decided its fate before it reached the floor of the House. ‘Every amendment and every provision suggested … was put before the Congress Party and then it was finally debated upon and passed with or without amendment by the Assembly, which alone had the final say in the matter.’ Ambedkar’s advice, in legal matters and drafting rather than on policy, was frequently sought.

The uniqueness and significance of Indian Constitution lies in its very making. H. R. Khanna , the celebrated judge of the Supreme Court, who through his stunning opinions shook the conscience of the nation in the habeas corpus case of ADM, Jabalpur, in Kesavananda Bharati case, and in the Indira Gandhi’s case, said: ‘When the Constitutional Convention to draft the Constitution of the United States met in 1787 behind closed doors, it adopted at a very early stage a rule “that nothing spoken in the House be printed or otherwise published or communicated without leave.’ ‘As against that the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly which framed the Constitution of read like an open book.”

Most of the famous world Constitutions – either of America, French, USSR etc., are the creations of few unelected, self considered intellectuals or chosen representatives of the people in power. In contrast, India Constitution represented the broader element of representative character, though not of absolute adult franchise. In the pre-partition scenario, the total members were to be 389 – 292 from the Provincial Councils, 93 from Princely States, 4 from the Chief Commissioners’ Provinces. After the boycott of the Muslim League, the total Members were reduced to 299. Though the election of members was based on the qualified adult franchise based on the 1935 Act, ‘which excluded the mass of peasants, the majority of small shopkeepers and traders, and countless others from the polls through tax, property, and educational qualifications,’ and in the final count only 28.5 per cent of the adult population could vote in the provincial assembly elections of early 1946’, ‘the Congress and its candidates covered a broad ideological spectrum.’

Although the outcome of the 1946 elections, coupled with the exit of the regions of the present Pakistan and Bangladesh, ‘made the Congress master of the Assembly, party policy ensured that Congress members represented the country.’ After the partition, when the composition of the Assembly, except for the representation of the Princely States, had become settled, the minorities had 88 of the 235 seats allotted to the provinces, or 37 per cent of the provincial membership. The Congress even ensured regional imbalances by accommodating almost one per every 10 lakh population. Minority representation was Nepalis – 1, Sikhs – 5, Parsis – 3, Christians – 7, Anglo-Indians – 3, Backward Tribes – 5, Muslims 31 and Scheduled Castes – 33.

The Congress ensured the presence of even non-Congress members. The non-Congress members who were elected under the direction of the Congress High Command included Dr. Ambedkar, Alladi Krishna Swamy Ayyar, H.N. Kunzru, K. Santhanam, M.R. Jayakar, Bakshi Tek Chand and Gopala Swamy Ayyangar. Even though officially Communist and Socialist groups and even the Hindu organizations such as Hind Maha Sabha and RSS boycotted the Constitution, Congress ensured that some members represent their views. On the whole 20 Members – Nehru, Patel, Prasad, Azad, Ambedkar, Pant, Sitaramayya, Ayyar, Gopala Swamy Ayyangar, K.M. Munshi, Satyanarayan Sinha, M.A. Ayyangar, Jiaramdas Daularam, Shankarrao Deo, Durgabhai Deshmukh, J.B. Kripalani, T.T. Krishnamacharya, H.C. Mukherjee, N.M Rau, and Mohammed Sadulla played very active role. They even ensured the presence of a communist in Somnath Lahiri and of the Hindu outfits in M.R Jayakar and Shyam Prasad Mukherjee etc.

The activities of the Constitution making were in fact organized where ‘the Assembly, the Congress and the government were like the points of a triangle, separate entities, but, linked by over-lapping membership, they assumed a form infinitely meaningful for India.’ The role of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, and the concerted activities of ‘the Oligarchy’ – consisting Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad and Maulana Azad – who played the role of the elderly in conducting the deliberations in a conducive atmosphere and without any hiccups is well documented. The Constituent Assembly met for the first time on December 9, 1946 and continued its deliberations till November 26, 1949 on the day when it was finally adopted. In these two years 11 months and 18 days, it sat for 169 days in 12 sessions and in the form of 22 Committees.

But there was one key person who prepared the initial Draft Constitution for consideration of the Assembly, and which was debated, modified and adopted on 26th November, 1949 and came into effect on 26th January, 1950. He was also the person the Assembly consulted as the final statement on almost all the important Articles. In the competitive political environment of the post-Mandal and post-Babri Masjid, slowly this great administrator, judge and jurisprudent lost his ground in the area of discussion in the Indian constitution making for more political reasons. Many law students, even while specializing on Constitutional law in their graduate or post-graduate levels dismay when asked about this forgotten hero – Sir B. N. Rau, and his role in the constitution making. This less sung and forgotten hero in the memory lane of the Constitution making in the post- 1990’s milieu was the one who submitted the basic document for the Assembly to debate and deliberate.

Austin said on the role of Sir Rau : “One more individual, B.N Rau, must be placed among those important in the framing of the Constitution. As Constitutional Advisor, Rau’s advice was heard in the Assembly’s inner councils, although he was not an assembly member. A legalist, an eminent advocate and judge, a student of constitutional history, and an able draftsman, one of the more Europeanized intellectuals in the Assembly, Rau looked to Euro-American constitutional precedent perhaps even more than other Assembly members for the divices to be used in Indian Constitution.” In fact, the Congress formed a party unit within, well known as the Assembly Party, which also played an important role in the Constitution making. “Every amendment and every provision suggested … was put before the Congress Party and then it was finally debated upon and passed with or without amendment by the Assembly, which alone had the final say in the matter.”

The contribution of Rau can also be gauzed from the very statement of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. On 29 August 1947 the Constituent Assembly passed a resolution to constitute a Drafting Committee. The Constituent Assembly’s resolution setting up the Drafting Committee, under the Chairmanship of B.R. Ambedkar, declared that it was being set up to scrutinize the Draft of the text of the Constitution prepared by the Constitutional Advisor giving effect to the decisions taken already in the Assembly and including all matters ancillary thereto or which have to be provided in such a Constitution, and to submit to the Assembly for consideration to text of the Draft Constitution as revised by the Committee. Even in his concluding speech in constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949 Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said : “The credit that is given to me does not really belong to me. It belongs partly to Sir B.N. Rau, the Constitutional Advisor to the Constituent Assembly who prepared a rough draft of the Constitution for the consideration of Drafting Committee. A part of the credit must go to the members of the Drafting Committee who … Much greater share of the credit must go to Mr. S.N. Mukherjee, the Chief Draftsman of the Constitution. … The task of the Drafting Committee would have been very difficult one if the Constituent Assembly has been merely a motely crowd … The possibility of chaos was reduced to nil by the existence of the Congress Party inside the Assembly which brought into its proceedings a sense of order and discipline. … The Congress Party is, therefore, entitled to all the credit for the smooth sailing of the Draft Constitution in the Assembly.” Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the President of the Assembly also said Rau ‘was the person who visualized the plan and laid the foundation’.

Constituent Assembly Secretariat (CAS), set up in May 1946, as an interim bureaucratic agency tasked with helping drafting of the Constitution. Sir Rau, the Constitutional Advisor, along with S.N. Mukherjee, the Joint Secretary – together played an important role of Chief Draftsman of the Assembly. Before taking over as Advisor, he defined the character of the Secretariat – “The whole organization is non-political in character. Its services are equally available to every member, irrespective of party and creed.” With the Assembly’s seal of approval on parliamentary principles, the drafting of the constitution was handed over by the Assembly to its Drafting Committee and to the Constitutional Adviser, B.N. Rau. The Assembly then adjourned for more than a year. Rau produced his draft in a month. From October 1947 until mid-February 1948 the Drafting Committee was busy converting this document into the Draft Constitution – which consisted primarily of the committee’s borrowed and modified provisions of the British and American Constitutions and the 1935 Government of India Act.

Sir Benegal Narsing Rau (26 February 1887- 30 November 1953), famously known as Sir B.N Rau CIE, was an Indian Civil Servant, jurist, diplomat and statesman. A graduate of the University of Madras and Cambridge, Rau entered the Indian Civil Service in 1910. In 1934, New Year Honors’ List, he was placed as a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) and a knighthood in 1938. He was instrumental in revising the entire Indian Statutory Code (1935-37), and was made judge of the Bengal High Court at Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1939. His tenure as the judge of Calcutta High Court was interrupted by two additional projects – to preside over a court of inquiry concerning wages and working conditions on Railways in India, and to work in the Commission for reforms concerning Hindu Law. He was also a Chairman of the Indus Waters Commission which submitted its report on riparian rights of India in 1942. He functioned briefly as the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir 1944-45. After resigning as the Prime Minister of J&K in 1945, he was asked to serve in a temporary capacity in the Reforms Office of the Government of India to work on constitutional and federal issues. Later he was appointed as the Secretary in the Governor General’s Office, worked on constitutional reforms, until he became the Constitutional Advisor to the Constituent Assembly in 1946. He was also India’s representative to United Nations Security Council from 1950-1952. He was also a judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Hague between 1952 and 1953. He was regarded as a candidate for the post of Secretary-General of the UNO 1950s.

B.N Rau was responsible for the general structure of the Constitutional democratic frame work. He prepared an initial draft in February 1948. This draft was debated revised and finally adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949. As part of his research in drafting the Constitution, he travelled to U.S.A., Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom – held personal consultations with judges, scholars and authorities on constitutional law. Among others, he met justice Felix Frankfurter of the American Supreme Court, who advised him against the inclusion of a clause for ‘due process’ as the word imposes undue burden on the judiciary. But Rau’s suggestions in the course of the Assembly debates against this clause had originated on a different consideration – he considered the due process as one which put unwarranted burden on legislature and confers a right on unelected body like judiciary to veto the acts of the duly elected legislature.

When the Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee met for the first time on 27 February 1947, it had before it draft list of rights prepared by B.N. Rau, Shah, Munshi, Ambedkar, Harnam Singh, and the Congress Experts Committee, as well as miscellaneous notes and memoranda on various aspects of rights. Rau’s ‘draft rights’ were a rich source before the Assembly in addition to the extensive passages on rights in Rau’s Constitutional Precedents. Drawing on this mass of precedent, the sub-committee drafted the rights during the meetings held in March and April, 1947. Even during the framing of the Directive Principles, the most weighty support came for these principles from B.N. Rau and Ayyar, and secondly from Ambedkar and K.T.Sha – whose suggestions proved to be thoroughly liberal in outlook. It was beyond the common sense and even imaginative extent of many Members that such principles could be accommodated in th Constitution itself, more so when they were not justiciable.

Of the four, Rau was the most influential in this regard. He approached the question of fundamental rights, unlike Sapru, Ayyar, and many other British-trained lawyers, with certain skepticism. The difficulty of defining negative rights and then of effectively protecting them led him to skip this ‘controversial ground’, and instead to prefer to set out the positive rights merely as moral precepts for the State and to bar the interference of the ordinary courts. This belief, in turn, led to Rau’s acknowledged emulation of the Irish example of distinguishing between justiciable and non-justiciable rights, and so his putting the emphasis on precepts. His notes on Precedents during the actual drafting of the Directive Principles supplied the members of the sub-committee with authority necessary for the same.

In later months Rau publicly defended the Directives : ‘… Many modern constitutions do contain moral precepts of this kind’, he wrote in The Hindu in August 1948, ‘nor can it be denied that they may have an educative value.’ Had there been scope, he would also have lifted the Principles above the level of precepts. It may be occasionally necessary, he believed, for the States to invade private rights in the discharge of one of its fundamental duties – e.g. to raise the nation’s standard of health, of living, etc. But the Fundamental Rights being justiciable and the Directive Principles being without legal force, the private right may over-ride the public weal. It is thus a matter for careful consideration, he continued, whether ‘the Constitution might not expressly provide that no law made and no action taken by the state in the discharge of its duties under Chapter III of Part III (the Directive Principles) shall be invalid merely by reason of its contravening the provisions of Chapter II (the Fundamental Rights).’ In the course of the debates, Munshi, Ambedkar, and Shah had gone even farther than Rau. They even tried made the Directive Principles an even more rigorous social programme, ie., justiciable. They disliked mere precepts and in the end, supported them in the belief that half a loaf was better than none.

Another area where B.N. Rau’s advice to the Assembly had greater impact had been on the clause relating to ‘due process of law’. He was consistent that the committees should dispense with due process altogether. He considered that the courts, manned by an irremovable judiciary not so sensitive to public needs in the social or economic sphere as the representatives of a periodically elected legislature, and will in effect, have a veto on legislation exercisable at any time and at the instance of any litigant. He admitted that the clauses are a safeguard against predatory legislation, but they may also stand in the way of beneficent social legislation. He opined that it might be a wise idea to steer a middle course and to adopt the device in the Irish Constitution which provided that the exercise of certain rights be regulated by the principles of social justice.

But one area Rau’s ideas were not seriously taken remains to be the area of election and role of the President vis-à-vis the Cabinet. Rau suggested greater discretionary powers to the President. But in this regard the Assembly prevailed over Rau and limited the role of the President giving higher authority to the elected governments. Sarbani Sen quotes from K. M. Munshi : “But in acting as a constitutional counterpoint to the majority dominance in the Cabinet, any scope for arbitrary would have to be limited, and the Assembly took care to reduce or reassign the discretionary powers that Rau had initially considered for the president.” We can see in the constitution making of India that none is given a higher status, and that it was the collective product of the many and that is why it is the document of: “We the people of India. … ”. The tasks before the Assembly were accomplished by the collective will of all the members, and thus of the people of India, with ‘remarkable idealism and a strength of purpose born of the struggle for independence’ as commented by Austin in the preface to his great work.

Apart from being an able administrator and jurisprudent, Rau left a rich legacy of written contribution. B. N. Rau’s Constitutional Precedents in 3 Volumes, published by the Government of India Press (1947), New Delhi, his Explanatory Notes on clauses and Annexure to the Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee report and his another important work – The Parliamentary System of Government in India (1949), The Indian Constitution (Manchester : Manchester Guardian) speak volumes of his legal and administrative acumen and the range of his thoughts on constitutional and legislative theories.

Biswaraj Patnaik , in an article “B.N. Rau: The forgotten architect of Indian Constitution” wrote: “The Indian Constitution was drafted by a core committee of seven experts headed by Dr. BR Ambedkar. All were legal experts or administrative luminaries including Sri B.N. Rau, KM Munshi, N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, Syed Mohammed Saadullah, N. Madhava Rao ….” The writer however considered: “….Rau was not a member of the Constituent Assembly but was the most important expert who did the primary thinking and writing. He has been religiously ignored by frontline politicians who never gave him his due space in history. Rau is the principal framer of the Indian Constitution; others only did the cosmetic job here and there….” Rinchen Norbu Wangchuk quotes Ornit Shani, from her seminal work – “How India Became Democratic” saying ‘Rau was the leading authority in guiding the process of making the universal franchise from a constitutional perspective.’

On the occasion of India successfully completing 70 years of the Republic life, and still marching forward steadily, let us recollect the names of those great persons and pay our tributes to them who in more than one ways contributed to the making of the Constitution into a real republic with all the elements of modernity and ancient wisdom, and the much needed balance. One such person to be retrieved from the archives of the dusty files of the bygone era, and from the depths of the memory lane, and to be deservingly restored to his due place is B. N. Rau, the Advisor to the Constituent Assembly. There are many who lie ignored under the carpet of history who have no followers or vote banks to demand space but make their presence felt through their work. They even defy the ever increasing efforts of many to write and rewrite history and erase the public memory.

Gandhi and the idea of sustainable development Dr. A. Raghu Kumar Advocate

Nostalgia is no good guide. The time can’t so easily run backwards. It may not be possible to revisit pastoral societies. Every individual or community wants to grow from its present state of affairs to a higher level. Progression is a natural urge and stagnation is indicative of a disease. One of the indicators of growth is economic development. The Western civilization most specifically from the beginnings of the 19th century conceptualized a particular method of development – industrial development with mass production as its basic narrative. Irrespective of their political, sociological and ideological differences, the Western scholarship whether Capitalists or Communists or Social Democrats, there was a consensus of the mode of development – industrial, and mass-production oriented. The nations which were under colonial rule also adopted this model as the only acceptable. The competitive targets of development made developing and developed countries to irrationally exploit their natural resources without concerns for the future. Gandhi was one rare voice which challenged this notion.
Even the religious and philosophical ideas of the West supported this model under the considered opinion that the creation of the God is for the consumption of the man. The philosophers hitherto forgot that the resources of the nature are not unlimited while the human wants are. They forgot that we are dependent on the availability of the natural resources or that the natural resources are finite. The mode of development conceived and adopted by the West and followed by the other decolonized countries led to unimaginable exploitation of the resources of the earth and its resources. As a consequence of this development model consumerism made deep inroads into the societies. One of the ingredient of the present consumerism is ‘use and throw’, a concept purposefully introduced for the greed of the manufacturers in the twentieth century. The West even heckled and ridiculed the development models of the East in general and India in particular – as Hindu growth rate, a highly pejorative description of the Indian economy. This ridicule introduced during the liberalization, privatization and globalization era in the post-WTO world has gone deep into the psyche of all the developing nations which rose up after a long slumber into devouring hunger.
Above all, the model started hurting the environment and ecological balance. The carbon pollution reached such unbearable levels that the human survival on earth has become doubtful. The average temperature levels are continuously increasing compelling the nations for urgent remedial action. Tons of toxic material is released everyday into the rivers and seas, threatening safe water to the future generations and even the survival of many water creatures. Several forms of waste – industrial, plastic, electronic, petrochemical, radioactive etc., are dumped on ourselves. It was only during the late 1990s when the consumption of the developing world also started craving for more that the policy makers woke up. Even the sincerity of the policy makers needs to be doubted in this new argument. In this milieu, the global fora of development started revisiting the idea of development. E.F. Schumacher , the German born British economist, made a compulsive argument in his series of essays, collected and published as Small is Beautiful made a beginning for the cause of alternative development model. Schumacher’s concepts derived their inspiration from the conventional Asiatic models of development and mostly from Buddhist and Gandhian thought. “In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system of production that ravishes nature and a type of society that mutilates man.” Gandhi said: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not any man’s greed”. What exactly he meant by that expression? Though shrouded with un-academic and uneconomic expression, the message is loud and clear. We nature can satisfy the needs of all. But when the development models are designed on the consumerism and economic growth as the only indicators, the greed is setting the agenda.
The concept of the sustainable development is multi-dimensional and multi-modal. Economic development cannot be viewed as something independent of the environmental paradigm. The type of development should ensure ecology and environmental impact, and shall keep under its edifice the future generations and their needs. There should be environmental, social, moral and spiritual balance and development sans these is in real terms a degradation and retardation. Sustainable development means to “fulfill the present needs without compromising the needs of future generation.” It needs a philosophy of: Reduce-Recycle-Reuse. Want have to reduced, the products must be such that they are capable of recycling and reuse. We have to urgently dispense with the production model of use and throw.
Asiatic societies have long since lived in harmony with the natural world. They have been practicing this ‘reduce-recycle-reuse model since time immemorial. But the victory of the Western intellectualism over the Asiatics and other African, Latin-American thinking process and demolition of the indigenous intellectualism and uniformization of wisdom led to the present predicament. During the freedom struggle, there was a deeper churning process on the future development model for the independent India. The success of Japan on one side and that of the USSR, England and USA were the known role models for modernists. But one individual was crying in wilderness. He was beseeching on the Indian intellect to think independently. But the Indian intellectuals were by that time intoxicated with the development theories of the West and considered this noble voice as anachronistic and retrograde. This voice was of Gandhi who said : “We must have industry, but of the right kind.”
After series of crises – environmental and existential, the World Fora started realizing the folly. Sustainable development adopted by the World Commission of Environment now considers that development can not dominate environment. Therefore development should be seen as a delicate balance between human needs and nature’s capacity to give, hence emerged concept of sustainable development. The consequences like global warming, climatic change, draughts and floods, resource depletion, social and political unrest, diseases, disharmony, mental stress, increased crimes rates, extinction of plants and animals etc are demanding our urgent attention. Basic law of economics also recognizes that resources are limited and needs are always unlimited. Human beings should satisfy their needs within these limited resources. This fact is being realized day by day with depleting natural resources. The naïve confidence of the pre-Nineteenth century supremacy of man over other beings is no more available to us. World commission on Environment and development has defined sustainable development as “A process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investment, the orientation of technological development and institutional change all are in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.”
Some economists suggest that a new economic system at global level is necessary for long term survival of the human race on earth. ‘The present economic system is characterized by maximum flow of money, maximum profit, maximum production, maximum consumption, and maximum resources use.’ This ‘frontier economy’, as it is called now, should be replaced by ‘spaceship economy.’ A spaceship economy or sustainable economy promotes conservation of renewable resources, product durability and a clean and healthy environment. In 1987, the Bruntland Commission published its report, “Our Common Future”, in an effort to link the issues of economic development and environmental stability. In doing so, this report provided the oft-cited definition of sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” . Albeit somewhat vague, this concept of sustainable development aims to maintain economic advancement and progress while protecting the long-term value of the environment; it “provides a framework for the integration of environment policies and development strategies.”
The precautionary principle establishes that “where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measure to prevent environmental degradation” . Explicitly stated in the Rio Declaration, the notion of common but differentiated responsibilities recognizes that each nation must play their part on the issue of sustainable development. Developed nations, therefore, bear greater responsibility in light of the resources they require and the pressures they exert on the environment. The term ‘sustainability’ should be viewed as humanity’s target goal of human-ecosystem equilibrium, while sustainable development’ refers to the holistic approach and temporal process that lead us to the and point of sustainability.” “The spatial distributron of development in Europe and its underlying sustainability correlations.” In the man-machine dichotomy, the West’s model of development stood on behalf of the machine, condemning man to be subservient to its own creation. This world view was challenged since long in many Eastern Societies which stood for machine only as a tool in the hands of man, serving man. However, the movement of idea decisively defeated the voices against machine’s superiority over two centuries. After Buddha, there was one person who stood against this onslaught of machine over man, ridiculed by the modernists and materialists alike. Sunil Sahasrabudhey argues: “In fact, Gandhi’s opposition to the machine is so complete that it looks like a challenge to modern science, to its claims of veracity, universality, enlightenment, and material well-being.”
Sudheendra Kulkarni explained: ‘Mainstream Western ideas of scientific and technological development have historically been imposing on the thought process of all other systems. From the Industrial Revolution onwards, the mode of production invoked by the West inflicted an incalculable amount of senseless harm upon the environment. However, the very idea of development became problematic now. Gandhian philosophy provides a viable conceptual foundation on which to build genuinely sustainable development. He wasn’t an environmentalist in the modern sense since the major environmental problems of the present emerged only after 1990s. Protection of the environment and sustainable development were not quire on the global or India’s agenda when Gandhi was alive. Nevertheless, we see how he was far ahead of his time in warning the world about the potentially disastrous consequences of the Western model of economic growth, which has, alas, now become, with some local variations, the globally accepted model.’ But he was a dedicated practitioner of frugality, of recycling and reuse, and a trenchant critic of various aspects of modernity. His Hind Swaraj was a severe critique of the West and its civilization, and here Gandhi meant by civilization, the mode of development after the industrial revolution. Gandhi’s cosmic view conceives evolution ‘to be impossible without the cooperation and sacrifice on the part of all species, human and nonhuman alike.’ His social, economic and political ideas developed within a conceptual framework that assumed the internal interconnectedness and interdependence of the universe in its entirety. He was an admirer of John Ruskin’s Unto the Last. He was also influenced by Leo Tolstoy’s idea of cooperation as the prime way of life. Gandhi was not against technology as such. What he opposed was the technology which makes man subservient to the machine.
Lord Keynes in 1930s wrote: “….fair is foul and foul is faire; for foul is useful and fair is not….” This is an example of how the development was conceived by the West’s best mind. But the Eastern wisdom feels inconvenient to accept this proposition. Theodore Roszak in his ‘Introduction’ to E.F. Shcumacher’s Small is Beautiful said: “….Schumacher’s point was that Gandhi’s economics, for all its lack of professional sophistication (or perhaps for that reason) was nonetheless the product of a wise soul, one which shrewdly insisted on moderation, preservation, and gradualism, on the assumption that to seek “progress” by releasing cataclysmic social change is only a way to demoralize the many and make them the helpless dependents of the rich and expert few. And even then, it may not be a way to feed the hungry.

Sudheendra Kulkarni examines the Gandhian environmentalism as integrally linked to his world-view of nonviolence. ‘It is an arrogant assumption,’ he wrote, ‘to say that human beings are lords and masters of the lower creatures. On the contrary, beings endowed with greater things in life, they are the trustees of the lower animal kingdom’. He wanted ‘to realize identity with even the crawling things upon earth, because we claim descent from the same God, and that being so, all life in whatever form it appears must essentially be so’. In a highly original re-interpretation of colonialism, he affirmed that lording over nature and lording over other ‘inferior’ people are both manifestations of colonialism.

Kenneth E. Boulding (1910-93), an American economist and peace activist who was greatly influenced by the life and teachings of Gandhi, posed a pertinent question: ‘Are we to regard the world of nature simply as a storehouse to be robbed for the immediate benefit of man? … Does man have any responsibility for the preservation of a decent balance in nature, for the preservation of rare species, or even for the indefinite continuance of his race?’ Gandhi had recognized this inherent conflict between economic and ecology in the modern era of limitless consumption fed by limitless exploitation of nature. Erich Fromm (1900-80), a widely respected American psychoanalyst, echoed Gandhi’s concerns when he observed : ‘Material production was once supposed to be a means for a more dignified, happier life and the aim was clearly the fuller, more dignified and more human life. Today production and consumption have become ends in themselves. Nobody asks any longer, why or what for? We are happy discovering how we can produce more. In fact, our economic system is based on ever increasing consumption and production. But why we want to produce more, why we want this, that, and the other… is a question which is not asked.’

Robert Hart , in his essay ‘Gandhi and the Greens: Road to Survival’, writes; ‘In today’s world, generally Gandhi’s truest political heirs are the Greens.’ Long before the 3-R principle of reduce-recycle-reuse became popular in the discourse on sustainable development, he had made its compliance mandatory in his ashrams. Most of the letters he wrote were on the blank side of the reusable paper that came to him. He made the utmost use of the pencils he wrote with, until they became one-inch stubs and hence incapable of being gripped by his fingers. His ashrams were exemplars of zero-waste, the modern principles of sustainable development.. ‘Gandhi abhorred the industrial civilization because it was based on callous exploitation of non-renewable resources. It made bodily welfare the sole object of life, which reduced man to nothing but a clever animal’. He adds: As in agriculture, so in industry and in every other walk of life, we need to give our attention to the developing and perfection of nonviolent methods to find answers to the threefold crises of the modern world – the crisis of resource exhaustion, the ecological crisis and the crisis of man’s alienation and disorientation. All this requires work – that is, Gandhian work with a spirit of truth and nonviolence which inspired Gandhi’.

Petra Kelly (1947-92), a founder of the German Green Party, acknowledged: ‘In one particular area of our political work we have been greatly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. That is in our belief that a life style and method of production which rely on an endless supply and a lavish use of raw materials generates the motive for the violent appropriation of these raw materials from other countries. In contrast, a responsible of these raw materials, as part of an ecologically oriented life style and economy, reduces the risk that policies of violence will be pursued in our name.’ Another pioneer of the green movement in Europe was Arne Naess (1912-2009), who is internationally known as the originator of a sub-movement called Deep Ecology. His spiritual vision, which affirms the unity and sacredness of nature, was deeply influenced by Buddha Spinoza and Mahatma Gandhi. Naess’s writings on Gandhi, such as his books Gandhi and the Nuclear Age (1965) and Gandhi and Group Conflict: An Exploration of Satyagraha, (1974) shaped the thinking of both the green and peace movements around the world.

The change in our approaches started with the realization that the earth has a limited supply of resources, that recycling and the use of renewable resources will prevent the depletion of resources, that life’s value does not depend on our material wealth alone, that we must develop a symbiotic relationship with nature, that we must live in NATURE and in UNITY with nature and minimize the waste we long for extended living on earth. For this we need appropriate technology – small and medium sized machines which maximize human output. This was the idea Gandhi introduced in the form of Charkha during the freedom struggle. The charkha stands as a symbol for such technology which would not displace the human hands.