The following is an excerpt from the article ¨The future of India lies in its villages¨, by architect Dhiru Thadani. He is the recipient of the 2011 Seaside Prize, and has worked in North and Central America, Europe, and Asia. You´ll find it interesting to read it in full.
Gandhi's walks through the villages of rural India endeared him with a profound love of the land and respect for the people who toiled in it. He came to believe that it was impractical for India's cities to accommodate the burgeoning population in a dignified way. He romanticized village life as self-sufficient, simple, free, non-violent, and truthful. To Gandhi, the qualities of village and rural life far surpassed that of the city, but he recognized that the playing field had to be leveled with both landscapes providing opportunities for personal growth and lifelong learning.
In a letter to Nehru, Gandhi admits that his proposed ideal village only existed in his imagination. His description of the village and its lifestyle can be interpreted as an ideal and harmonious community, or as an autonomous neighborhood.
The four characteristics embodied in Gandhi's idealized village would be: 1) access to an ever-expanding scientific and technical base in two areas, individual healthcare and assistance in food production; 2) respect and codes of conduct in human actions and toward natural resources; 3) a democratic political institutional framework; and 4) physical and electronic linkages between the village and both rural and urban areas.
Other ideal village goals which Gandhi intimated were the inclusion and provision for the full population range in demographics, a desire to diminish the divide in access to educational as well as economic opportunity, and a job-led economy rather than a capital intensive one.
I would speculate that Gandhi was in fact describing a community or neighborhood, which was reinforced in a later statement that he made to "put the village back into the city." He seemed to lament the difficulty of instilling the dignity of village life into the anonymity of the city.
My research leads me to dispute the notion that Nehru and Gandhi had differing visions for the future of India. Their visions were not mutually exclusive but rather they each chose to emphasize the two parallel futures of India, the city and the agrarian landscape.