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BOOK REVIEW ARTICLE: ‘CONSTRUCTIVE PROGRAMME’ (It’s Meaning and Place) By: M.K. Gandhi -Yash Kothari


The article presents Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas through his well-known “Constructive Programme.” At the time, India was under British rule, and it was critical for all Indians to unite and act as one in order for Gandhiji to succeed in igniting a revolution among Indians, which eventually helped the country overcome British rule and gain independence. Gandhiji devised 18 aspects for the “Constructive Programme” for the benefit of the entire society, some of them include the Removal of Untouchability, Adult Education, Recognition of Provincial Languages, Basic Education, and so on. All of Gandhiji’s “Constructive Programme” elements have shown to be very relevant in today’s 21st century for improving the society.


(Its Meaning and Place)

Mahatma Gandhi embodied India’s immortal essence. He developed an agenda for a revolution in India, and then for the entire world, through the “Constructive Programme2”. He offered a rather thorough vision of the sort of society he envisioned through this initiative. It was the template for inner transformation, which would then lead to societal transformation. It was a process in which individual and society transformation occurred simultaneously rather than independently of one another. Gandhiji was preparing the masses for the post-independence notion through the Constructive Programme. To make this practice a reality, the entire social system must be reconstructed. Any other ideal cannot thrive in a society founded on nonviolence. Social change must be evolutionary and not violent or disruptive. Evolutionary rather than violent or disruptive social transformation is required. Individuals’ brains are shaped through social institutions, which are outward expressions of moral principles. The “Constructive Programme” might also be referred to as the development of “Poorna swaraj,” or total independence via truthful and nonviolent ways. Self-purification is required to achieve Swaraj without resorting to violence.

Gandhi’s main tactics for mobilizing the people for the struggle against the British were truth and nonviolence. Gandhi successfully applied two essential concepts in South Africa. He considered that using violence to overthrow the Britishers was not a viable option. He was a strong supporter of nonviolent protests and even promoted the use of khadi and charkha in the village.

The term “Constructive Programme” was used by Mahatma Gandhi to describe one of Satyagraha’s two terms, the other being nonviolent resistance such as nonviolent direct action. Civil disobedience is also known as “obstructive programming.” It was a means of waging a battle via community and self-improvement, as well as promoting self-sufficiency and solidarity within the existing community. Constructive Programme was a blueprint for internal development in individuals, which would then lead to societal reforms. It was a process in which society and individual change took place at the same time and ran in parallel. Gandhi ji coined the term “Constructive Programme” to describe a series of nonviolent, pragmatic acts he believed that would help India attain political and economic independence. The program attempted to address some of India’s most significant issues, such as intense poverty and discrimination. It symbolized a progression of satyagraha inactivity, from resistance and non- cooperation to specified tasks being completed by constructive work. In 1894, Gandhi ji recognized the importance of the Constructive Program and successfully implemented it in South Africa. Gandhi ji’s wish was for everyone, regardless of caste, creed, or religion, to fight for ‘Poorna Swaraj’.

Gandhi ji coined the term “constructive work” to describe the nonviolent acts that led to India’s independence. Ordinary individuals assume responsibility for issues that are essential to them, but are lacking in their communities. Villagers working in unity to ensure that everyone in their community recognizes the dangers of contaminated water, takes precautions to ensure that their activities do not contribute to the problem, and strives to eradicate existing pollution are examples of positive effort to address this issue.

Thus, Gandhiji framed 18 elements of the Constructive Program:

  • Communal Unity: Its main aim was to improve peace by forming connections with people of various cultures.
  • Removal of Untouchability: To eradicate the concept and practice of untouchability in
  • Prohibition: To provide healthy and inspirational alternatives to opium and alcohol
  • Khadi: The fundamental goal of promoting Khadi was to achieve economic self- sufficiency by producing and purchasing homespun
  • Other Village Industries: To provide national support for local products and
  • Village Sanitation: People should be taught how their common areas affect their
  • New or Basic Education: To link India’s youngsters to everything that is greatest and most lasting in the
  • Adult Education: For changing the orthodox thinking of the old people and to make them aware of the greatness and vastness of their country and to instill self-sufficiency.
  • Women: For changing mindsets, behaviors and laws to reflect women’s
  • Education in health and hygiene: To educate people about basic healthcare and hygiene, so that they can keep a safe distance from a majority of
  • Provincial languages: To utilize and evolve a variety of Indian regional
  • National Language: For national communication, the widely spoken Indian language Hindi will be
  • Economic quality: To reduce India’s wealth imbalance by giving personal riches for the general
  • Kisans: To support peasants in their non-violence
  • Labour: To resolve all labour issues through nonviolent
  • Adivasis: To provide support to the largest indigenous population within
  • Lepers: As a national responsibility, giving care to persons suffering with
  • Students: Through Constructive Program, they aim to redefine higher education as service to As every policy has two outcomes positive and negative, though through “Constructive Programme” there were much positive outcomes, but there were some limitations too.

The merits or successes of the abovementioned elements were as follows:

  • Truth and non-violence this method of Gandhi ji gained a very high mass
  • It resulted in high participation of Hindu and Muslims masses during non-Alignment
  • Also, resulted in very high participation of students, farmers and Government
  • It promoted the method of self-reliance and the use of Charkha and
  • National schools and colleges were set up with a non-colonial ideological
  • It resulted into boycotting of foreign clothes and
  • Fostered the Hindu Muslim

The limitations were as follows:

  • Many failed to connect with the idea that political struggle and constructive work must go in
  • The people of orthodox and conservative nature were reluctant to change their attitude towards
  • National education does not benefitted
  • No emphasis was laid on the economic
  • The Khadi clothes were more expensive than the foreign
  • Abolition of Caliphate by Britishers resulted in the less participation of Muslim masses in
  • Arrest of many political leaders lead to unrest among

Constructive Program is still a viable concept. We are still dealing with challenges such as poverty, village underdevelopment, untouchability, sanitation issues, and women’s empowerment. Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of constructive programme is reflected in the DPSP’S of India’s constitution, which promotes rural self-sufficiency, women’s empowerment, and prohibits the consumption and sale of alcohol.

The radical principles that underpin the Constructive Program. It’s not about providing housing certificates to the poor, which are essentially a bribe to affluent landlords; it’s about making housing affordable to everyone. It’s not about finding a better way to deal with the health-care crisis,   insurance coverage, which keeps earnings flowing to the   pharmaceutical sector, but fostering true health for everyone.

The relevance of ideologies is as follows:

  • Even today lives of Untouchables are So, it requires socio-economic upliftment.
  • Gandhi ji’s call for Swadeshi can boost “Make in India” initiative and “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.
  • Development of the religious extremist theory requires communal
  • Gandhi ji’s vision for Panchayati Raj can be achieved by decentralizing power and
  • Promotion of National Education will glorify India’s education sector, and will ultimately help India to reach newer heights in each sector,
  • As most of the countries solve disputes through military powers which leads to a very high destruction in the world, adopting non-violent methods like Satyagraha to resolve dispute and conflict will lead to no
  • Even today some people have the orthodox thinking and considers women below to the man, so it still requires women upliftment and gender equal
  • The peaceful non-violence movements sometimes done by labours are still helpful in solving their
  • People should learn tolerance to curb communal
  • The relevance of widespread of different languages and now government’s initiative to take exams of students also in their native or local language completely shows the freedom that one has in choosing the language of his own will, as no language is imposing on
  • The prohibition on alcohol addiction and opium ideology is very relevant as today the scenario is that more young people are affecting due to this addiction, the government has to take more steps in preventing
  • The ideology of providing education for all has a very powerful impact as Government has also mandated that till age 14 every child must get
  • Higher Education now in India is uplifted and we find the ideology of this in Constructive Programme Today’s students are very well advanced and much competent to other countries students, and even better with them.
  • The relevance of village sanitation is also found as government have started different clean up and hygiene drives and mostly in villages so that the diseases which spreads due to lack of proper sanitation should not
  • The government has launched various schemes for poor people and also certain funds and trusts are set up in which people according to their will donates money and that money is used for the upliftment of the poor people. We can found this ideology in Constructive Programme.

The ideologies and elements framed by Gandhi ji through Constructive Programme are all of very relevance. The above mentioned are only some of them. Non-violent conflicts in today’s world frequently lack a constructive programme that could be easily integrated and enable them to be proactive, maintain continuity of effort when direct resistance is not possible, and persuade the public and opposition that they are not only disruptive but also have the ability to build. Most significantly, constructive programs can help to establish alternative institutions, ensuring that a successful insurgency does not simply result in a power vacuum, allowing oppression to return. Gandhi ji believed in independence (Swaraj) because British control of India was anchored in control of indigenous industries, and the goal was to transform individuals and societies through truth and nonviolence.

As a result, while Gandhi ji attempted to eliminate social problems such as untouchability and communalism, his efforts were not entirely successful. As of the twentieth century, most regions of the country, namely village/remote areas, continue to practice these behaviors, and communities remain underdeveloped. Many current nonviolent movements now give little or no attention to constructive programmes, instead concentrating their efforts on non-cooperation and civil disobedience. However, without a Constructive Programme, as we have seen in nonviolent insurgency movements in the second half of the twentieth century that successfully liberated people from repressive regimes in South Africa, the Philippines, Poland, the Czech Republic, Serbia, and many other places, the same problems of poverty and other forms of structural violence have returned to undermine the gains of the nonviolent insurgency movements. This isn’t because nonviolence doesn’t work; it just isn’t complete without a Constructive Program.

All of Gandhi ji’s Constructive Program’s elements have proven to be relevant in the twenty- first century. All of today’s beliefs and methods for improving society have roots in Gandhi ji’s Constructive agenda, which serves as a guiding force in today’s globe.

Gandhi ji believed that:

Execution of the Constructive Programme in its entirety means more than Swaraj. It means Ram Raj, Khudai Sultanat or the Divine Kingdom”.

1 Student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune

2 https://www.gandhismriti.gov.in