Sudheendra Kulkarni’s book, Music of the Spinning Wheel: Mahatma Gandhi’s Manifesto for the Internet Age, released
“Literacy used to be considered as the foremost programme to propel India to the forefront in 21st century. But literacy now has to be more than learning alphabets. In fact, Internet is emerging as the new basic. The Internet penetration needs to be expanded in the same way as electricity connections. Whichever government or group will undertake expanding Internet in the same vigour as that for providing electricity will be able to take the country to the forefront,” said senior BJP leader Shri LK Advani while speaking at book release function organised in New Delhi.
The book, Music of the Spinning Wheel: Mahatma Gandhi’s Manifesto for the Internet Age, has been written by noted columnist Shri Sudheendra Kulkarni. Former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam released the book.
Shri Advani insisted that the spread of electronic communication in India would actually mean spread of Gandhi’s philosophy. “Unlike other tools, internet empowers the masses. Internet is the biggest contribution Gandhi’s thinking could have made. It needs to be spread like electricity in India,” he said.
Emphasising on Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of ‘One World’, Dr Kalam said Internet was an effecting tool of connecting the world. Highlighting the relevance of Gandhi’s vision and thinking in the present context, Dr Kalam said he used communication as a tool to connect to the masses in India and in South Africa to bring about a revolution and liberate people from oppression. “Gandhiji set an inspiring example, brought people together and showed the power of unity through communication. He could do all this without having the power of electronic communication,” he said.
Former Union Minister Shri Arun Shourie said the book “explains why Gandhi would have welcomed the Internet’ and ‘induces us to look beyond the cliches like Mahatma Gandhi being anti-technology.” He said Gandhiji had great admiration for scientists and industrialists and so they admire Gandhi for thinking. “Gandhi, on many occasions, admired scientists and industrialists like Jamshedji Tata. Similarly, Einstein had admiration for Gandhi and referred to his things as inventions. Gandhi was a scientist of mind,” he said.
Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor said Internet had become the binding force as envisaged by Gandhiji. “Gandhi wanted to connect the world. This is exactly what Internet has done,” he said. He said Mahatma Gandhi would observe a day of silence every week. In order to convey a message, he would write a note. “Imagine what he would have done with SMS, email and even twitter.” He said broadband access, which stood at around 10-15 per cent penetration currently in the country, is being planned to be increased “as a tool of inclusive development”. He said once villages are connected to Internet, then it will enable decentralisation of development, which would “fulfill Gandhi’s dream”.
Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express Shekhar Gupta described the book as a powerful counter to the perception of Mahatma being anti-technology. He reminded the audience about the development of the next day after the famous and oft-repeated instance where Gandhi was forced to alight from a first class railway compartment during a journey in South Africa in 1893. The next morning Gandhi created a commotion about the treatment meted out to him and sent a telegram to his sponsors to take it up forcing the railways managers to accommodate him in the same train the next day in a first class compartment for his remaining journey, Shri Gupta pointed out.
“It was like posting his status message, getting followers and then getting people to act. Gandhi used the best medium available to him then. Gandhi had a powerful instinct to resist and reach out to whoever can make a difference through the best medium available,” he said in an apparent parallel to the new medium of social networking sites on the Internet to drive home the point that Mahatma would have been at ease in this Internet era and used it for his laudable purposes.