Music of The Spinning Wheel (Mahatma Gandhi's Manifesto for the Internet Age)

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Item Code: NAH010
Author: Sudheendra Kulkarni
Publisher: Manjul Publishing House Pvt. Ltd
Language: English
Edition: 2013
ISBN: 9789381506165
Pages: 763
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 720 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
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About The Book

Mahatma Gandhi was a genius in symbolizing his socio-political and spiritual message. No Gandhian icon has endured more as a synonym for his personality and philosophy than his humble spinning wheel. He worked magic with this simple machine by imparting a mass character to India’s struggle for freedom. He also used it as a powerful symbol for his advocacy of a new global order, based on the ideals of truth, nonviolence, morally guided self-governance, justice, universal brotherhood and sustainable development.

However, we confront a strange paradox here: The spinning wheel has become largely irrelevant today, even though the message it iconified has become more relevant than ever. Does Gandhi’s timeless message have a new technological carrier that can become the spinning wheel’s avatar in the twenty-first century? Yes. It is the Internet.

Supported by an original and incisive exploration, this book argues that the Internet, and the many digital technologies spawned by it, have the potential to actualize the Mahatma’s ideals. In the process, this book also dynamites the widespread misconception that Gandhi was against modern science and technology.

After surveying modern science’s unmistakable journey from man’s outer reality to his inner reality, this book makes an optimistic prediction-‘The marriage of modern technologies with swaraj and satyagraha, understood in the Gandhian sense, will shape tomorrow’s just and nonviolent world’. however, it also places a cautionary caveat: The Internet’s potential to inaugurate a new phase in human evolution can be realized only if the world’s affairs, and also our individual lives, are radically re-ordered along a strong ethical axis. Hence the book’s inspiring call to denizens of the digital world to become ‘Internet Satyagrahis’.

Music of the Spinning Wheel is a meticulously researched re-projection of Mahatma Gandhi as a techno-savvy seer for India and the world-yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Music of the Spinning Wheel presents Mahatma Gandhi’s life and mission in an altogether new and integral light, through the prism of the possibilities and perils of the Internet Age. Perhaps for the first time in Gandhian literature, this book discovers a correlation between the amazing potential of the Internet, which is the ‘species mind’ of humankind, and the moral message of the spinning wheel. It also highlights the abiding relevance of this saint-scientist’s probing approach to every aspect of life-from economics to education, from nature cure to environment protection, from sex to women’s empowerment, and of course from politics to peacemaking.


About The Author

Sudheendra Kulkarni served as a special aide to India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) between 1998 and 2004. He played an active role in conceptualizing and driving several landmark initiatives of the Vajpayee government –among them, the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Information Technology, New Telecom Policy, National Highway Development Project, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (a national programme for rural connectivity), and a national scheme for urban sanitation. An activist of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for many years, he served as its national secretary and also as secretary to its former president L.K. Advani, who was India’s deputy prime minister. He has passionately championed the cause of communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims, and also peace and better relations between India and Pakistan. Since the middle of 2009, he has been working as chairman of the Observer Research Foundation Mumbai, an independent public policy think tank. He is a columnist with the Indian Express and also writes regularly for many other publications on a wide range of subjects.

In addition to being actively associated with the BJP’s policy research wing, Kulkarni is guiding a team effort to prepare the BJP’s VISION 2025 document, whose emphasis is on good governance and pro-poor development. His other major activity is related to the national campaign for cleaning up the River Ganga.



Mahatma Gandhi Remains a Deeply Enigmatic Figure In India and the world. Easy to admire, difficult to understand in his totality, and almost impossible to follow, even in parts. There is very little about his outward personality –his attire, his extremely frugal food habits, his observance of a day of silence once a week, and his unconventional views on sex – that can conceivably endear him to the modern man living in the most consumerist and hedonistic era in human history. Yet, Gandhi has become the most popular and venerated Indian around the globe. There is something about the inner truth of his life, the glow of which remains undiminished with the passage of time. We may call it Gandhi’s Truth since his lifelong extraordinary description. It not only sheds light on the failures and falsities, injustices and inadequacies, of the world we live in, but also shows the way forward.

At a time when India has been witnessing rapid erosion in ethics in politics, economics and public life in general, Gandhi is admired for practising the moral principles that he preached. As India and much of the rest of the world continue to grapple with the challenge of religious disharmony, his lifelong mission of trying to create harmony across various social barriers continues to evoke widespread adoration for him. Indeed, his mission culminated in his martyrdom for the cause of amity between Hindus and Muslims, and also between India and Pakistan. Ironically, it was a Hindu extremist, Nathuram Godse, who assassinated the greatest Hindu in modern times. This fact of history makes his message especially relevant, both for India and the world, considering that the cause for which he sacrificed his life is as salient today as it was in his own lifetime.

Above all, admiration for him stems from his uncompromising advocacy of nonviolence, which was the defining element of Gandhi’s Truth. It is not that most people who admire him for this reason truly believe that the ideal of a nonviolent world is ever realizable. Nevertheless, they see in him the source of their own hope in a just and peaceful tomorrow. It is a hope men cannot live without. He nurtures that hope both at local and global levels. For example, the United Nations (UN), which is the closest the international community has come to establishing something akin to a world government, may not have made much headway in de-militarising international relations and creating a new world order based on peace, justice and universal brotherhood. Yet, when it declared, in 2005, that Gandhi’s birthday on 2 October would be observed each year as the day of Nonviolence, it acknowledge him as a modern-day prophet of peace.

What is curious about Gandhi’s Truth is that it is neither easy to grasp, nor easy to reject. His admirers appreciate some aspects of his life and message, but find it difficult to comprehend or agree with other aspects. Similarly, his critics may scoff at some of his actions and teachings, but usually, they too express varying degrees of appreciation for what he set out to achieve and, especially, for the sincerity and single-minded focus he brought to bear to his mission. Thus, it is easy to find critics among his admirers, and admirers among his critics.

The one aspect of Gandhi’s Truth that is most enigmatic is his outlook –or perceived outlook- towards science and technology. By and large, both his admirers and critics contend that he was opposed to science, technology, machinery and modernity. We are currently in the most technologically advanced era in history. Science and technology have transformed the world in unimaginable ways. They are also the principal factors behind the unprecedented material prosperity that some sections of the global community have been enjoying and others are eagerly hoping to be a part of. This has persuaded many people in India and the world to believe that Gandhi, with his insistence on khadi, village industries and maximum local self-sufficiency, sought to stop the onrush of development aided by modern science and technology. Therefore, on the yardstick of technology-driven progress, many of Gandhi’s admires and critics alike consider him irrelevant to our times.

According to historian B.R. Nanda, who was one of the greatest interpreters of Gandhian philosophy: ‘Gandhi’s views on industrialization did not commend themselves to the Indian intelligentsia, and even to many of his colleagues in the Congress leadership. To many of his eminent contemporaries-scientists, economics, industrialists, radicals, socialists, communists-Gandhian economics seemed a throwback to primitiveness; to a utopian pre-industrial position which was untenable in the modern world.’

Gandhi himself was aware of the widespread skepticism about his advocacy of khadi and the charkha. ‘Many people think’, he wrote in an important booklet titled Constructive Programme: Its Meaning and Place, on 13 December 1941, ‘that in advocating “Khadi” I am sailing against a headwind and am sure to sink the ship of Swaraj and that I am taking the country to the dark ages.’ Even as late as in September 1944, he gave vent to the divergence between his views and those of many senior Congress leaders on the issue. Speaking at a meeting of the All India Spinners’ Association (AISA) at the Sevagram Ashram near Wardha in Maharashtra, he said: ‘The Congress did accept the charkha. But did it do so willingly? No, it tolerates the charkha simply for my sake.’

But was Gandhi really opposed to industrialization and to modern science and technology? Did he, with his unusual ideas on development, seek to take India back in time –to the ‘dark medieval age’, as some of his critics claims? Or was he a visionary who not only foretold moral degradation and the looming crisis in sustainable development that both India and the world are currently experiencing, but also showed an alternative path of development that is pro-people, protective of the environment and also promotive of human evolution to a higher level? Was he utopian in his insistence that science, economics and ethics must go together, or was his insistence a warning that the world has ignored at its peril? Would he have shunned the Internet, arguably the greatest technological invention of mankind, or embraced it? What would he have said about nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and other breathtaking promises of science and technology in the twenty-first century?




  Introduction: Why Another Book on Mahatma Gandhi? xv
  PART ONE: Pathways To Satyagraha  
1 My Journey from Mahatma to Marx, and Back 3
2 I Am Not a Servant of India, I Am a Servant of Truth' 13
3 South Africa: Where Gandhi Became a Mahatma 21
4 Satyagraha: A Unified Theory of Truth Linking Science, Religion and Social Change 33
5 How Islam Influenced Satyagraha: Two 9/11s; two different jihads 47
  PART TWO: Romance with Science  
6 A 'Thought Revolution': Technology for a New Civilisation 57
7 Was Gandhi Opposed to Science and Technology? A Caricature! 73
8 The Ashram as an R and D Centre: Gandhi's amazing Experiments in Dietetics 95
9 A Champion of Nature Cure and Healthcare Research 105
10 Everything Can Be Turned into a Science or a Romance…' 117
11 A Sanitary Scientist's Unfulfilled Dream of 'Toilets for All' 127
12 Nayi Talim: Gandhi's Answer to Why India Missed its Own 'Industrial Revolution' 135
13 Preaching with Practice: A Mahatma who was also a Cobbler, 151
  Scavenger, Carpenter, Cook, Weaver, Farmer and Medicine-Man…  
  PART THREE: Harmony Seeker  
14 Decoding the Meaning of 'Music of the Spinning Wheel' 163
15 When the Music of the Spinning Wheel Mingled With the Music of Beethoven 175
16 Truth is God' and 'God is Joy': An Illuminating Dialogue Between Gandhi and Romain Rolland 187
17 A True Artist Whose Mission was to Make Gods out of Men of Clay' 197
  PART FOUR: A Beacon For The Present And The Future  
18 Nonviolent Economic Growth: Imperative of Aligning Money with Morality and Justice 209
19 Gandhi and the Science of Evolutionary Biology: From Man the Brute to Man the God 227
20 Nuclear Weapons: A Diabolical and Sinful use of Science 239
21 What Would Gandhi have said about India's Nuclear Weapons? 245
22 Survival of the Kindest: Women and the Science of Nonviolence 257
23 A Pioneer of the Green Movement 267
24 Experiments in the Science of Brahmacharya: How Gandhi Sought to Divinise Sexual Energy for Nonviolence 277
  PART FIVE: Promise of The Internet  
25 Why Gandhi Would Have Embraced the Internet: A Dreamer who Wanted Modern Science to Re-clothe Ageless India 363
26 Can the Internet Serve the 'Khadi Spirit'?: The Answer Lies in what the Net is Doing 373
27 The Nanotech Revolution: Small will not only be Beautiful, but also Bountiful 417
28 The Future of Money: How the Internet will Promote Gandhian Economics 431
29 A Messenger of Global Hope: The Internet is Born for Promoting Peace 451
30 Village and the Global Village: How the Internet Harmonises Swadeshi and Globalisation 471
31 The Ills of the Internet: Gandhian Swaraj Provides the Antidote 503
32 How Gandhi Awaited the Arrival of a University Useful Machine 515
33 1869: Birth of Mahatma Gandhi 1969: Birth of the Internet: How, and why, the Internet was Born 531
34 Undreamt of Discoveries in Nonviolence': Where the Internet is, and Ought to be, Headed 555
35 Humankind's First 'Species Machine': The Internet has a Higher Evolutionary Purpose to Fulfill 577
36 What Einstein saw in the Mahatma 595
  It's Time We Became Internet Satyagrahis 611
I 'Mahatma Gandhdi is a prophet for the age of the Communication Revolution': Author's Interview with Ray Kurzweil 631
II Gandhian Engineering -A Concept by Dr R.A. Mashelkar 639
III Nonviolence in Politics: A Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi by Werner Heisenberg 641
IV A Brief Biography of an Iconic Gandhi Photograph The Mahatma as Portrayed by Margaret Bourke-White 643
V A Teacher's Reflections on the Book: Prof. Deepak Phatak 653
  Notes 657
  Acknowledgements 697
  List of Abbreviations and Acronyms 703
  Index 707

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