From the Preface by Shriman Narayana:
The publication contains Gandhiji's views on different aspects of rural life including agriculture, village industry, animal husbandry, transport, basic education, health and hygiene. At a time when we are endeavouring to establish Panchayati Raj in India on the basis of wide decentralization of political and economic power, this book is bound to be of great value to a large number of official as well as non-official workers.
The Community Development movement should not be regarded as some kind of a programme which has been largely imported from the Western democracies; it must necessarily be based on Indian conditions and traditions. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that all workers who are being trained for participating in this movement should possess ample knowledge about Gandhiji's ideas in regard to various aspects of rural reconstruction. If we overlook and bypass Gandhiji's experience and ideals about the pattern of Indian planning, we shall be doing so at great peril to the evolution of our democracy on sound foundations.
Mahatma Gandhi strongly pleaded for decentralization of economic and political power through the organization of Village Panchayats. He was of the definite view that Panchayat system in India, if worked on scientific lines, could not only build up the social and economic strength of the countryside but also strengthen the forces of national defence against the risk of foreign invasion.
Acharya Vinoba Bhave has also been laying great stress on the urgent need for organizing the Indian villages on a co-operative community basis through Gramadana. This ideal of decentralized democracy or Panchayati Raj should not be regarded as a sentimental proposition based on medieval notions. A study of modern economic and political thought in the West would indicate that decentralized institutions are now regarded as crucial to the establishment of democracy on stable foundations. "If man's faith in social action is to be revivified," states Prof. Joad, "the State must be cut up and its functions distributed," (Modern Political Theory, pp. 120-21).
In his Fabian Socialism, Prof. Cole maintains that for diffusing widely among ordinary men and women a capacity for collective activity "we must set out to build our society upon little democracies".. From this standpoint, the experiment of Panchayati Raj which has been launched in -India's countryside with zeal and vigour is a right step towards the goal of "Village Swaraj" envisaged by Gandhiji.