If Gandhi were alive today, using the methods of contemporary NGOs

GANDHI[Written in early 1999]

If we were to take the operationalisation, functioning and approach of modern day NGOs and impose them upon Gandhi and the struggle for swaraj (‘home-rule’) in India we would have a movement and campaign which would be neither a movement, nor a campaign.

Rather than swadeshi (‘self-reliance’) and sarvodaya (‘welfare for all’), nourished by a subsistence economy and way of living it would have been donor dependent, relying upon funds attained either from abroad, or from the government and ruling elites (through foundations, etc.; therefore, a Gandhi relying upon funding from the colonial authorities or British aristocracy for his struggle for independence from those authorities, or dependent upon other external governments funding the swaraj movement for their own aims and ends).

It would have been project-based, with little or no long-term thinking and strategic planning, with demand for immediate, short-term results/‘output’, and an evaluating committee to judge whether the output from the project was worth the investment.  The projects themselves would be developed at the headquarters of the organisation, or initiated following suggestions or changed donor focus from abroad.

“Beneficiaries” and “target groups”, those whose lives the projects are intended to improve, would be identified (in that order, with identification of “beneficiaries” and “target groups” following development of the project, rather than vice versa).  Each initiative would demand a logo or bill-board identifying the foreign supporter or agency providing funding to it.

Ashram’s would be identified with whichever development agency or NGO had made their creation ‘possible’, the result of ‘assistance’ and ‘intervention’ by foreign or foreign-trained engineers, NGO workers, and others importing material and designs for the construction of the homes and schools.

Food would not be grown locally, but provided through aid, increasing or decreasing depending upon the harvests in Europe and North America.  What local production of food there is would have to be changed to accord to the latest guidelines and scientific methods of agricultural production, including genetically modified crops, herbicides, pesticides, etc., and other techniques developed in universities, research institutes, and laboratories in the First World.  Agricultural tools would have to be imported or given as tied-aid, replacing wooden tools and instruments with tractors and modern machinery.

The Young India would be published with appropriate reference to “generous support from….”, and would receive funding only upon the condition that it was not seen to be to critical, radical, or in any way questioning or threatening the over-all interests of those providing “support” (therefore, if funding were to be received from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office or from the colonial authority, the paper and its articles could not be seen to be critical to Britain or the colonial authority).

To strengthen their chances of success and the work for democratisation and human rights, foreign trainers would be brought in, and Gandhi and other Indians would be brought to universities and training centres in Great Britain and other parts of Europe and North America, to receive the same wonderful education in governance, democracy, human rights, civil liberties and freedom, as those governing in the name of the empire, preparing them, on a micro-level, to repeat la mission civilisatrice and to carry the white man’s burden within their own communities and villages.

The spinning wheel, and home-spun cloth would be replaced with factories and manufacturing to strengthen “social development,” ‘improving the living-standards of the poor,’ and incorporating them into the global economy.

And India, would still be a part of the Empire today.

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