Swaraj (swa”self” raj “rule”) can mean generally self-governance or “self-rule”, and was used synonymous with “home-rule” by Mahatma Gandhi, but the word typically refers to Gandhi’s concept for Indian independence from foreign domination. Swaraj lays importance on governance not by a hierarchical government, but self-governance through individuals and community building with a focus is on political decentralization.
Swaraj warrants a stateless society; according to Gandhi, the overall impact of the state on the people is harmful. Gandhi called the state a “soulless machine” which, ultimately, does the greatest harm to mankind. The raison d’etre of the state is that it is an instrument of serving the people. But Gandhi feared that in the name of molding the state into a suitable instrument of serving people, the state would abrogate the rights of the citizens and arrogate to itself the role of grand protector and demand abject acquiescence from them. This would create a paradoxical situation where the citizens would be alienated from the state and at the same time enslaved to it, which according to Gandhi was demoralizing and dangerous. (Wikipedia)
In his essay Swaraj Against Hunger, Professor George Kent examines how India’s approach to dealing with its massive problems of poverty and malnutrition has been dominated by the view of government-as-provider. People are articulate about what government should do for them, but have little to say about what they could do for themselves, either individually or in community with others. There is a need for a change in our collective mindset, to one foreshadowed by Gandhi, one hundred years ago when he penned his famous book, Hind Swaraj (Indian Home Rule). Hind Swaraj served then as a basis for building self-reliance, and thus resisting the British raj. It could now serve as the basis for resisting the rule of hunger in India and the world. From George Kent, Gandhi Marg Volume 32 –
Swaraj and Swadeshi
It is true that India now produces enough food to feed its entire people, but millions are not fed adequately. Despite India’s growing wealth and its agricultural successes, India still has a huge number of malnourished people, more than any other country. What is there to celebrate in this supposed self-sufficiency?