Gandhi on Economics

Due to various banking crises the British media have been more than usually interested in recent months in directors’ and CEOs’ bonuses and salaries. These outrageously high incomes are not confined of course to bankers but are normal among large companies. The majority of employees of these businesses might receive around £20,000 per year while at the ‘top of the pyramid there will be incomes of around £1 million — a ratio of 50:1. Gandhi had some things to say on the issue of income differentials:

“That economics is untrue which ignores or disregards moral values. The extension of the law of nonviolence in the domain of economics means nothing less than the introduction of moral values as a factor to be considered in regulating international commerce.”

“My ideal is equal distribution, but so far as I can see, it is not to be realised. I therefore work for equitable distribution.”

“I suggest that we are thieves in a way. If I take anything that I do not need for my own immediate use, and keep it, I thieve it from somebody else. I venture to suggest that it is the fundamental law of Nature, without exception, that Nature produces enough for our wants from day to day, and if only everybody took enough for himself and nothing more, there would be no pauperism in this world, there would be no man dying of starvation in this world.”

“It is open to the world … to laugh at my dispossessing myself of all property. For me the dispossessing has been a positive gain. I would like people to compete with me in my contentment. It is the richest treasure that I own. Hence it is perhaps right to say that though I preach poverty, I am a rich man!”

“No one has ever suggested that grinding pauperism can lead to anything else than moral degradation. Every human being has a right to live and therefore to find the wherewithal to feed himself and where necessary to clothe and house himself. But for this very simple performance we need no assistance from economists or their laws.”

“The rich cannot accumulate wealth without the co-operation of the poor in society. If this knowledge were to penetrate to and spread amongst the poor, they would become strong and would learn how to free themselves by means of nonviolence.”

Quotations from All Men are Brothers, Navajivan Publishing House.

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Categories: Gandhian Economics


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2 Comments on “Gandhi on Economics”

  1. November 17, 2010 at 4:49 am #

    In 1978 E. F. Schumacher, perhaps the 20th century’s most celebrated humanist-economist (author of Small is Beautiful), acknowledged his debt to Gandhiji and called the Mahatma one of the truly great economists and prophesized that one day Gandhiji may be remembered as the greatest economist of all.



  1. West Michigan Elites host policy forum « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy - September 16, 2010

    […] is an accurate example, but I find it hard to believe that most people in the room were aware of Gandhi’s views on economics, which would be in clear conflict with those of the West Michigan Policy […]


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