Mahatma Gandhi: A champion of sustainability through localization

Why we require localized food and energy production

Yet another Gandhi Jayanti has come. In the wake of sustainability and issues like global warming, teachings of Mahatma Gandhi is becoming more and more important.

Some of the Inspirational words of Mahatma Gandhi on Grama Swaraj (Village Self Governance), Sustainability etc.

“The true India is to be found not in its few cities, but in its seven hundred thousand villages. If the villages perish, India will perish too.”

“We have to show them that they can grow their vegetables, their greens, without much expense, and keep good health….”

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed”

According to Gandhiji, each village should be basically self-reliant, making provision for all necessities of life – food, clothing, clean water, sanitation, housing, education and so on, including government and self-defence, and all socially useful amenities required by a community.
Gandhi’s Concept of Gram Swaraj

If we look at the current scenario, it is essential to include clean technologies and localized sustainability also to the vision of Mahatma Gandhi. Let us see more on some of the important items.

Increasing Localized food production:

Localized food production should be encouraged to the maximum. This would definitely boost local economy. From a pure consumer point of view, one could get much better and fresher food items. From environmental point of view, this could reduce a lot of emission and pollution arising from the usage of fossil fuels for transportation. The extra cost and wastage arising from paper and plastic food packaging materials also could be reduced.
The Localization of Agriculture

Localized Energy Revolution:

Clean Energy Generation is getting a great momentum nowadays. Looking from a broader perspective, clean energy could be divided into two separate streams. They are

  1. Large Solar and Wind Farms owned and operated by big companies.
  2. Small Distributed Rooftop Solar systems and Micro Wind turbines owned and operated by mainly residential customers.

It can be easily seen that the localized option is fully in alignment with Gandhiji’s dream: Self reliance, sustainability – Apart from generating one’s own food and clothes, generate one’s own energy also.

Let us see some advantages of small distributed generation.

  • Common people are very much invloved. It is real democracy: Simply speaking, “Energy of the people, by the people, for the people”
  • More local job creation, which would improve local economy.
  • If a proper financial model is setup, that would boost local banks and finance institutions.
  • Minimal land requirement. Most of the rooftops are unused anyway. But, large farms do require a lot of land. Even though in many cases, these farms are constructed on barren and arid land unusable for anything else, still that is nothing but real encroachment on nature.
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  • Around 400 Million people in India do not have electricity and majority of them are in villages. This is a unique scenario to India. Large Solar/Wind farms would not make any difference to these people, instead they would cater only the established traditional urban customer bases. But small scale systems could revolutionize these villages.
  • Large Solar/Wind farms are the Clean versions of centralized generation. Apart from reducing/stopping carbon dioxide emissions, they have every other problems of large centralized power generation. They are prone to political issues. They depend on national grid to reach customers, which would effectively increase grid congestion, transmission and distribution losses etc. To minimize these issues, setting up and maintainance of new grid would be required. But for small distributed systems, a minimal micro grid would do the real work.
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  • Large centralized systems are like big brand department stores. They use Client Server approach. Electricity is ‘going’ in only one direction, from producer to consumer. Whereas small systems are like ebay or skype. They use Peer to Peer model. Producer and consumer distinction and their separation is reduced. More of using the Shortest Path approach. This model has many advantages during failures and problems.

This does not mean that large solar/wind farms are not necessary, but small distributed systems genuinely require a lot of attention and that should be given.

Published by Anand Sivaram (आनन्दः )

twitter.com/anand_sivaram https://www.linkedin.com/in/anandsivaram/

5 thoughts on “Mahatma Gandhi: A champion of sustainability through localization

  1. Good article. Thanks for sharing your views.
    As i believe that decentralisation can work only with market forces, Policy can do not much in this way of empowerment. Market forces and small institutional mechanism can only lead to localisation than centralisation. Policy benefits are harvested mostly by big one only.

  2. Correct. More than policy, infrastructure should be provided for localization to improve. Better infrastructure would improve commercial viability and that only would lead to the real success.

  3. good article and this is the time for practicing GANDHIISM beyond the elections and Vote Bank politics.

    WORK 2 EVERY HAND, WATER 2 EVERY LAND, BOOK 2 EVERY CHILD, PATRIOTISM @ EVERY MIND – will solve all the Problems of our MOTHERLAND.

    JAI HIND, JAI BHARATH

  4. Hi ASP,
    This is surely an enlightening article! But i feel you are a voice in the wilderness. we indians long abandoned the Gandhian ideals of self-reliance, cooperative society and acting local. now we realise the west is telling us the mantra we already knew – think global act local!

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