In 1908 Gandhiji read John Ruskin's Unto This Last: Four Essays on the First Principles of Political Economy while on a train from Johannesburg to Durban. He describes the experience of reading this book and the profound effect it had on him in his autobiography in a chapter entitled The Magic Spell of a Book.
The book is impossible to lay aside once he has begun it. It grips him. Hour after hour passes by. Johannesburg to Durban is a 24 hour journey. He gets no sleep that night. He is young. He has read very little outside of text-books for his studies at The Bombay University, The University of London and to qualify as a Barrister in England. He has been involved in nothing less than the emancipation of the human race, the early days of satyagraha, and has had no time to read books. Until this meandering train journey!
Hour after hour goes by. He is oblivious of the many stops that the train makes along the way. He sees his deepest convictions reflected in the pages of Ruskin's book. The book captures him. He sees the book as great poetry, sees Ruskin as the great poet who can with his words call forth the good latent in the human breast. He is aware that few have read this book, that upon its publication it was declared a failure, a colossal mistake of a great man in decline. He is not bothered by the book's reputation for he understands that poets cannot influence all alike, for everyone is not equally evolved.
By the time the train reaches Durban, 24 hours have passed, and he finds that that John Ruskin's book on the first principles of political economy has brought about an awakening--an instantaneous and practical transformation of his life.
This is the birth of Gandhian economics.
Posted by Abhay Burjor Ghiara at 6/07/2014