The Web of Freedom

J.C. Kumarappa and Gandhi's Struggle for Economic Justice

by Venu Madhav Govindu and Dr. Deepak Malghan

Venu Madhav Govindu and Dr. Deepak Malghan

New India Foundation



Freedom fighter, economic philosopher, environmentalist and Gandhian constructive worker, Joseph Cornelius Kumarappa (1892-1960) was a man of many parts. His strength of convictions drove Kumarappa to abandon a
life of prosperity and comfort to throw in his lot with that of Mahatma  Gandhi. The result was a lifetime spent championing the cause of rural India, both under the British Raj and after independence.

Kumarappa was that rare thinker who married theory with practice. He wrote extensively with insight and wisdom on economic philosophy, political economy and the fate of agrarian India. An advocate of a decentralised economy and an early Indian environmentalist, Kumarappa was also a creative interpreter of Christian thought and Sarvodaya. Simultaneously, he also worked on improving village industries that offered a livelihood to millions. If Gandhi’s swaraj was more than political self-rule, it was Kumarappa who gave it economic content and

In his fight for economic justice, Kumarappa often challenged received wisdom on industrialisation and modernity.Seen from this perspective, this book examines the vital political and economic choices in the crucial decades of the 1930s through 1950s.

Based on extensive archival research, this highly readable, intellectual biography presents the fascinating story of Kumarappa’s life, work and ideas that have a strikingly contemporary resonance.


Author Profile

Venu Madhav Govindu and Dr. Deepak Malghan

Venu Madhav Govindu is a computer vision researcher with the Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. His primary technical interest lies at the intersection of geometry and estimation in 3D vision problems. The current interests of his research group include geometric problems in large-scale 3D reconstruction from images and in the use and enhancement of the capabilities of depth cameras and SLAM.

Venu also has a serious interest in the history and political economy of modern India, especially the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi. He has recently published an intellectual biography of the Gandhian economic philosopher and constructive worker, J. C. Kumarappa. He is currently working on a thematic history of Gandhi's Sevagram period.