“Two paths are open before India today, either to introduce the Western principle of might is right, or to uphold the Eastern principle that … the strong and the weak have alike a right to secure justice. In the struggle between capital and labor it may be generally said that more often than not the capitalists are in the wrong box. But when labor comes to realize its own strength, I know it can become more tyrannical than capital. To use violence to secure rights may seem to be an easy path but it proves to be thorny in the long run.”
“A satisfactory solution of the condition of labor must include,” suggests Gandhi:
- The hours of labor must leave the workmen some hours of leisure.
- They must get facilities for their own education.
- Provision should be made for an adequate supply of milk, clothing and necessary education for their children.
- There should be sanitary dwellings for the workmen.
- They should be in a position to save enough to maintain themselves in old age.
Needless to say that none of these conditions are satisfactory today.
When organized labor succeeds in securing increased wages and shorter hours of work, Gandhi feels that the money thus received should be devoted to the education of the children of the workers and the time saved for their own education. He advises the mill owners to open restaurants for their employees, where they can get pure milk, which has become such a rarity in the industrial centers of India, and wholesome food for moderate prices, by running these restaurants at cost. Employers should open reading rooms and provide harmless amusements and games. He advises the trade unions to do similar things.
“They would be better employed in devising means for improvement from within than in fighting the capitalists,” asserts Gandhi, and adds: "It is a sign of national degradation when little children are removed from school and are employed in earning wages. No nation worthy of the name can possibly afford to so misuse her children. At least up to the age of sixteen the children must be kept in school. Similarly the women must also be gradually weaned from mill labor.”
This shows in what unmistakable terms Gandhi has given his serious thought to the problems of Indian workers, and, in spite of reasonable difference of opinion that one may hold with regard to Gandhi’s economic theories, it is refreshing to note that, after the manner of all really great men of the past, his soul is keenly concerned with the uplift and well-being of the toiler.
Professionally a lawyer, Gandhi built up his career through his services in South Africa to his countrymen there, then engaged in a bitter fight for justice against the white man. He emerged from this color conflict as a devoted social worker and engaged himself in the humanitarian activities during the entire period of the World War. He accepted honors conferred on him by the British government, and demonstrated his faith in the British sense of justice, by adopting a policy of unflinching loyalty to the cause of the British Empire. With the close of the war, like the rest of the faithful humanity, Gandhi found himself disillusioned and under a deep sense of humiliation and remorse; he extricated himself from all affiliations which he regarded evil. His devotional nature got the better of him, and, unlike other leaders of national