Global Swadeshi manifesto

Global swadeshi logo.png

Global Swadeshi[1] is a networking site for Open Source Appropriate Technology, self-reliance and resilience founded in May 2008 by Vinay Gupta and Lindsey Darby. Vinay Gupta is inspired by the ideas of Gandhi and Buckminster Fuller.


This manifesto was originally at posted at What is the Global Swadeshi Network (personal perspectives), a forum thread on the Global Swadeshi network site].[1]

The Global Swadeshi Network is a new community of people working together on various aspects of personal freedom and economic or technical self-reliance.
Swadeshi is Gandhi's term for economic self reliance. In his time, the international trade in cloth was exporting wealth from India to England, in much the same way that, right now, America is exporting its wealth to China via Wal-mart.
But Gandhi did not think of this as being only a nation state issue. Rather, his concern was that individuals were supporting British rule by paying for their own oppression through the purchase of British products while the British occupied their country. Economic choices formed the basis of political bondage.
Tell me true, do you think America's oil dependence and foreign policy, up to and including wars, and a program of international kidnapping and torture of those the American government has disappeared... do you think these things are related? Do you want it to stop?
The challenge of environmentalism has always been that individuals do not feel they make a difference. Well, so many people drive so much, skipping this one trip and riding my bike instead isn't going to change anything. And, globally speaking, this is true. Swadeshi in the Gandhian sense was very simple: you did not do this for India, you did this so that you were not personally responsible for oppressing people through careless personal habits.
Swadeshi was about ceasing to contribute to the problem personally.
Gandhi's observation was very simple: the more people stop contributing to the problem, the more the problem itself seemed like it would one day be solved.
Global Swadeshi is a 30 year program at the end of which we will deliver three things.
1> Children who are born free, in cultures with sane, rational legal systems, no government interference in people's personal lives, kind-yet-secure foreign policy, and extremely high sustainability.
We all carry so much cultural baggage. So many conditioned ways of seeing and being. We need to starting thinking of global transformation towards peace on earth, indeed, towards heaven on earth, as being a task to be carried across generations, one to another. We need to start thinking in terms of community, of legacy, and of consciously investing in the next generation, who's works will certainly be greater than our own.
I don't want to raise my future children in a culture where the government takes their money and uses it to kill people, and will put them in jail if they say "no!" Rigid personal morality is something the State does not permit people, and attempt to attain it are met by imprisonment. So peaceful jurisdictions must be created. There are a few existing countries, mostly microstates, which attain this goal. It is a start.

2> Citizens who carry their own weight, politically, economically, and financially.
Right now anybody who lives "on the grid" has their own personal life supported by "the system." I don't want to sound too "matrix" about this, but the electricity which flows through your wall sockets carries with it the whole history of government, from taxation to build the grid through to subsidized nuclear reactors and an infinite legacy of waste. The same is true for a lot of consumer products, food, and so on.
The system is not going to change while it continues to work, and while people continue to be dependent on it. Financial instability and the inability of governments to behave sanely and rationally and intelligently may well cause the system as it stands to stop working, but it could be replaced with something worse. This is why it is doubly important to cultivate independence from the system at a lifestyle level as much as possible. Grow some of your own food, make some of your own power, and you begin to think like an individual, not like a cog in the great machine of State or, worse, the Global Economy.

3> A Proven Soft Development Path for everybody
Soft development paths[2] are not just for other people. Sustainable development is needed everywhere, from the over-consuming cities of the North to the starving villages of the south. The winners of the current economic game do not realize that their days are numbered, but the instability left by the inequalities and injustices of the current relationship between rich and poor threaten to ruin both sides if they are not changed. Nobody in the West likes to think that their standard of living is supported by oppression, but it is. Swadeshi - personal self reliance - offers a way to maintain a good standard of living while ceasing to participate in the oppression of one's fellow man.
In the process of people adopting lifestyles ever closer to swadeshi, at both a technological and political level, economies of scale being to emerge. As those who created Linux together learned, what one cannot do alone, many can do in cooperation. If somebody figures out something for themselves, and shares that knowledge, you can learn from them. We do not have to do this alone: a community of practice has emerged in which solutions and experience are shared, knowledge learned and taught and applied, and a path is formed by a million steps. The path is how the poor will be lifted out of poverty: we, privileged as we are, help to figure out how to live will without requiring massive governments to pay for our services and infrastructure, and we cultivate our own power and food and other services.
This skill and know-how is documented, and given away, so that those in other countries who wish to live in Swadeshi themselves can. This approach forms an alternative development path to the implicit expectation that some day, when development is "complete," every city on earth will look like Tokyo."


What people do for themselves is their own business. But, for me, the Global Swadeshi Network is a way for me to cooperate with other people in living more morally towards other people and the earth, and more ethically with respect to my own personal economic, technical and political decisions. My own personal goal, of an integrated life which is free, beneficial to everybody, and abundant in the things which make life worth living is supported by every other person in the network who is working towards their own personal vision of that "better life."
And all of our better lives, together, make a better world.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world" - M. K. Gandhi.
Only individuals can exercise their freedom. Only we can choose to do what is right for us, and any plan for change which rests on making other people change their behavior will eventually turn into oppression, if only by peer pressure. This is not the way to make a better world.
We all swim across the river together. It may be a little wetter than clubbing together to buy an enormous ark to cross in, but we can start swimming today, and it is not as far as it looks. Once people are on the other shore, they can document their journey and their lives, and encourage others to make the same journey.
We must show that it is possible, that it is desirable, and that it is beneficial to adopt the new Swadeshi way of life. Collective social change requires some degree of coercion through the mechanisms of make the government change the way we do things.
But this power, to change the way we do things, is vested in each one of us. It may be given to the governments to use at times, but it is our power, and when they fail us, as they have in approaching the environment, social justice, poverty, science and technology, education, women's rights, and in many other matters, it is up to us to make the changes for ourselves.
Together, we will be the change we wish to see in the world. This is the Global Swadeshi Network from my perspective.

Technology is centralEdit

Vinay Gupta stated in group email, on 30 June 2008:[2]

Here's the thing. GS is deeply focused on technology. I've gone out of my way to discourage discussion on policy, economic theory and so on to keep the space as the social space of engineers - it's kind of a nerdfest, and I'm hoping to keep it that way. That's why we have hour and a half long interviews thrashing through weird esoteric points of how things operate, rather than two minute overview pieces. So I'm happy to host that kind of deep tech stuff over there, while pushing all the stuff about philosophy and economic models (for the most part) somewhere else.
I kind of have this relationship with Appropedia too. Hexayurt Project and Global Swadeshi do knowledge management on Appropedia. We're not going to set up a wiki, it makes no sense. On the other hand, I put my focus behind Global Swadeshi as a brand for the social network, rather than approaching my fellow Appropedians because I wanted a place to do political engineering - a place where it was possible to discuss openly, explicitly and unashamedly how to implement the Design Science Revolution.
So I see three ways of doing this:
1> Manually clone content across networks and manually aggregate results, perhaps using hacks like using a tag-based naming scheme (i.e. open_question_2921 is a tag that can be searched for using a tag aggregator.) Pretty much what you're suggesting, and maybe there's a tag aggregator we can use to help integrate result sets from the network pulse.
2> Write software to automagically push and pull stuff between the networks, so that you can have a single discussion thread that spreads over many boards, as long as each board is running the same software. I suspect the way to do this would be to have a "bot" (like those used on wikis) which had a log in on each board, and then it would copy posts from one place to another.
Pros: nifty!
Cons: this is going to suck to implement
3> Bite the bullet and federate. We all agree that detailed write ups of reference material and how tos go on Appropedia. Engineering interviews and chat go on Global Swadeshi. Theory and indexing of the global space of projects goes on P2P Foundation, and so on.
Then what we need is a nice big network diagram that shows the specialization of our two dozen or so projects, with the general relationships drawn in as arrows, so that newbies can be directed to the appropriate forum for their chosen interaction.
I actually favor an explicit act of federation although I was not expecting this topic to come up so soon - I thought that was next year's work.


  1. It is posted here by permission (from Vinay to Chriswaterguy via email) under Appropedia's license. Wikilinks to relevant terms are not part of the original.
  2. The email was part of a conversation on the "P2P Strategic" email list and several other people with related interests.

See alsoEdit