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Constructive Programme: A Women’s Perspective

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Published: 28th Dec, 2019

Constructive Programme: A Women’s Perspective
  • Gandhi wanted women to play an important role in implementing the constructive programme. Unlike the nineteenth century social reformers, Gandhi had realised the negative effects of colonial rule on women's economic status.
  • The East India Company had destroyed India's cottage industries and the greatest sufferers had been women.
  • This strengthened his decision to launch the khadi movement. Revival of swadeshi would provide work and supplement the income of the semi-starved women of India.

Khadi: A tool for Women Empowerment

  • A woman would earn a basic income for survival. It would also enable women to come out of purdah.
  • It enabled Gandhi to challenge the dominant upper middle-class value that equated a family's status with women not engaged in productive work. Saraladevi Chaudhurani was the first women to address public meetings in Lahore wearing a khadi sari and many women followed her example.

 Involvement of Womenin Khadi and cottage Industires: Few Examples

  • Khadi work in Orissa was done by Subhadra Mahtab who formed Gandhi 'Karma Mandir'.
  • Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur organised a spinners' association in Punjab.
  • Maniben Nanavati and her co-workers started a 'Khadi Mandir' in Vile Parle in Bombay.
  • Among Muslim women, Bi Amman propagated khadi.
  • In Bihar, Prabhavati Devi established the Mahila Charkha Sangh in Patna to involve women in spinning.
  • Another important agenda in the constructive programme was removal of untouchability.
  • Gandhi regarded women’s involvement essential for removing this evil. Rameshwari Nehru dedicated herself to the service of harijans. She was appointed vice president of the All India Harijan Sewak Sangh in 1934.
  • She together with other social workers, tried to get the Temple Entry Bill in favor of harijans passed in the Madras Legislative Assembly.
  • The participation of women in Bihar began with Gandhi’s arrival in Champaran in 1917. During this period, among the women who joined him were Prabhavati Devi, Rajbansi Devi and Bhagwati Devi.
  • Anasuya Sarabhai opened night schools in mill areas of Ahmedabad for harijan children.
  • Saudamini Mehta opened a clinic for Harijan children in a bustee (slum area) in Calcutta where children where regularly examined by doctors. She was made President of the Bengal Harijan Sewak Sangh.
  • Inspired by his appeals, many women came forward to promote Hindu-Muslim unity.
  • Sarojini Naidu addressed meetings and spoke from various platforms about promoting Hindu-Muslim solidarity.
  • In memory of Kasturba, who died in Aga Khan palace in Pune on February 22, 1944, the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust (KGNMT) was set up on Gandhi’s 75th birthday (October 2, 1944).
  • It was inaugurated by Sarojini Naidu and its aim was to work for women and children in rural areas.
  • Women also contributed to the revival of village industries, to conduct programmes of village sanitation and education in health and hygiene.
  • Thus, women played a remarkable role not only in the political struggle but also in implementing the Gandhian constructive programme. 

Holistic Development Of The Personality

  • The main theme, underlying Gandhi’s philosophy is that of Integrated Education, that is education that ensures the all- round development of the mind, body and soul of pupils and is not just limited to the narrow confines of merit in academics.

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