Views of Mahatma Gandhi on work

“Gandhiji felt that Ahimsha(non-violence) would not tolerate the idea of giving a free meal to a healthy person who has not worked for it in some honest way. He felt that it degraded the nation and encouraged laziness, idleness, hypocrisy and even crime. It would be an insult to the naked to give them clothes they do not need, instead of giving them work which they sorely need. In his view the principle of work has been set forth in the Third Chapter of the Geeta where we are told that he who eats without offering sacrifice eats stolen food and sacrifice here can only mean productive or bread labour. The view that to live, man must work came to Gandhiji’s mind upon reading Tolstoy’s writing on Bread Labour. A millionaire cannot carry on for long and will soon get tired of his life if he rolls in his bed whole day and is even helped to his food. He, therefore, induces hunger by exercise and helps himself to the food he eats. If every one whether rich or poor has thus to take exercise in some shape or form, why should it not assume the form of productive i.e. bread labour, There is a world wide conflict between capital and labour and the poor envy the rich. If all work for their bread, distinction of ranks would disappear. The rich would still be there but they would deem themselves only trustees of their property and would use mainly in the public interest. Gandhiji also felt intellectual work is important and has an undoubted place in the scheme of life. But he insisted on the necessity of physical labour. No man, he claimed ought to be free from that obligation. It would serve to improve even the quality of a person’s intellectual output. (Taken from a speech on martyrs’ day about 20 years ago)


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