How many people know that Gandhi authored two books – Hind Swaraj and Buniyadi Shiksha.
Buniyadi Shiksha is a masterpiece in which he stressed imparting education through handicrafts, especially through spindle (takli). He was of the strong belief that physical work makes children more efficient in grasping knowledge. He wanted that in primary schools, the spindle must be made mandatory for spinning Cotton to make yarn for khadi products.
He knew that in the pre-British era, India was famous for handmade fabric especially Dhaka’s Malmal. It had been mentioned by many authors that Indians had a pretty good standard of living due to flourishing textile and other industries.
So, he wanted to revive the economy and abolish social evils especially of seven lac villages– which he termed as heaps of cow dung at that time. The village economy is dependent on agriculture. Other industries such as carpentry, blacksmithy, gold smithy, textile, shoemaking, medical services, etc. are well supported by agriculture. It is unfortunate that the people involved in some of these services have been relegated to the fourth category of Hindu society. Even some of them face untouchability especially people involved in shoemaking and cleaning.
He not only stressed Takli and Charkha in schools but also wanted children to undergo Buniyadi Talim (Shiksha) and learn about carpentry, shoemaking, blacksmithy and tree plantation.
He also initiated programs to eradicate untouchability. He called Dalits Harijan–the children of God. He thought that Harijans are involved in the most pious work of the society., so, they deserve to be the children of God. He attacked the evils of Indian society with a multi-pronged approach.
Perhaps he believed that if every child learns about carpentry, blacksmithy, yarn making, shoe making and tree plantation then caste-based discrimination can be eradicated soon. Children will also become economically independent.
What is maligning Indian children is that their physical activities have become insignificant.
Students of our generation used to be busy playing games after school hours. They used to spin cotton, using Takli, to prepare yarn. They used to prepare pen ( kalam) using bulrush (sarkanda) and paint the wooden board ( तख्ती) by Multani mitti. The students used to enjoy such activities. So, three activities– games, Takli and kalam making– helped us in keeping our mind fresh and active for studies at school. Though many persons at the time of Gandhiji were apprehensive of his approach and asked many questions. But he always convinced them by his witty answers. Our childhood experience proves that Gandhiji’s methodology is perfect in learning knowledge through handicrafts and it can abolish social evils.
The experient of Takli was continued for 2-3 decades in some states. Unfortunately, it is no more a part of the curriculum. Perhaps, we have forgotten Gandhiji, Gandhism and his Buniyadi Siksha. We must adopt Gandhiji’s concept of Buniyadi Shiksha in New Education Policy in the primary section.
He also had a vivid idea of University education. At a higher level, he wanted that vocational education to be made mandatory.