Bio-gas in India: Swadeshi, the Economics of Mahatma Gandhi

Swadeshi is a Hindi word, forming from the combination of two sanskrit words, swa meaning “self” and desh meaning “country. Swadeshi literally means self-country. Ghandi’s vision for India was that of a self-governing (first and foremost free from English or any non-Indian rule), self-sufficient nation, containing many cooperative autonomous communities. The creation of such co-ops and the rejection of English cotton for homespun garments during the fight for Indian independence are prime examples of the Swadeshi movement. The use of Bio-gas has often been said to reflect Gandhi’s Swadeshi.


Given that the bio-gas systems are generally constructed, maintained, and utilized by independent communities – whether they be small-villages, families, or agricultural businesses, this reflection is not only fitting, but instrumentally important. According to an analysis written by Jo Lawbuary, co-owner of Gansha, a fair trade company, technical errors in the construction and use of Bio-gas plants, faulty installation, cultural practices, and ineffective government organization have all lead to the eventual failure of many bio-gas plants. This need for autonomy is what makes a conscious capitalism approach so applicable to bio-gas. If individual communities, rather than a large governing body, take responsibility for acquiring, installing, utilizing and maintaining their bio-gas plants, all in conjunction with complimentary customer service inspections of plants sold by the company, it is possible to foster such autonomy. The intent of inspections after the initial installation and in following years, as well as education available from company distributors, would be to provide opportunity for community members to become more engaged and educated about the upkeep of their unit.

To begin creating prolific bio-gas systems a simpler, more serviceable, culturally sensitive, and easily installable design is necessary, along with a more decentralized and autonomous infrastructure. Also, as Lawbuary notes there must be emphasis on “the importance in promoting the participation of local people in the whole process of education, planning and monitoring, so that the renewable technology is viable and sustainable in the communities it is designed to serve.” It is overwhelmingly important that the installation and operation of each unit is undertaken by the community that will be using it – and that the design of my company’s distribution model and protocol, as well the design of the unit is conducive to the creation of such a self-sufficient community.

Works Cited

Lawbuary, Jo. “Biogas Technology in India: More Than Gandhi’s Dream.” Ganesha, n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2015. <;

Mander, Jerry, and Edward Goldsmith. “Gandhi’s Swadeshi – The Economics of Permanence.” The Case Against the Global Economy. By Satish Kumar. N.p.: Sierra Club, n.d. N. pag. Inter Continental Caravan. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <;.

“Swadeshi.” Metta Center for Nonviolence. Metta Center, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <;.

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