On Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary one’s thoughts naturally turn to his views on education. In a famous Chatham House, London speech on October 29,1931 he held the British Administration responsible for the destruction of ‘the Beautiful tree’ of Indian education. To him the purpose of education transcended employability and he believed that persistent questioning and healthy inquisitiveness are the first requisite for acquiring learning of any kind. He was advocating a Scientic temper and suggesting a self-directed learner. He thought of education as a liberating force, whereas the rulers wanted to use education also as a force of subjugation. His charkha was a disruptive instrument to challenge large scale industrialisation. Today it is the mobiles, handhelds and 3D printers that challenge mammoth manufacturing. The emergence of communities of practice and forums to help, the possibilities of crowd funding all show instances of the kind of society that Gandhiji would have wanted. Perhaps he would have been delighted that large scale de-humanising industrialisation is yielding to an age of enlightenment that is empowering the individual in learning, thinking, tinkering and making, and Gandhiji advocated working with own hands.
So, would Gandhiji be delighted with the way new technology is empowering the masses? According to a contrary viewpoint it is creating fresh divides in terms of access and resulting empowerment. So would Swaraj for him in today’s context mean high bandwidth, space in the ‘cloud’ and a mobile access device in every hand?