Mahatma Gandhi predicted Uber, Amazon, news apps and Zomato over 100 years ago. No, this is not a joke

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Mahatma Gandhi predicted Uber, Amazon, news apps and Zomato over 100 years ago. No, this is not a joke

Men will not need the use of their hands and feet. They will press a button and they will have their clothing by their side. They will press another and they will have their newspaper, Gandhi wrote.

Over 100 years ago, 109 years ago to be precise, Mahatma Gandhi predicted that one day there would be a world, the world of buttons, in which from clothes, food items, cabs would reach those who need them at the press of a button. In other words, our Father of The Nation actually predicted something that is very similar to the internet of today. And he did it long before the world had heard of bits, chips and computers.

In his recent book How Democracy Ends, political scientist David Runciman writes about the age of internet and it is while talking of the interconnected world, he details how Gandhi saw it coming over 100 years ago in his book Hind Swaraj. Runciman writes, "People laugh when Al Gore claims to have invented the internet. So they should. It wasn't Gore. It was Mahatma Gandhi."

But how and why? How did Gandhi predict that one day the world would be full of something like news apps, Uber and Amazon?

Gandhi did it because he could anticipate the way people use machines and the way machines would increasingly take over bigger and bigger role in people's lives. In Hind Swaraj, Gandhi wrote:

"Men will not need the use of their hands and feet. They will press a button and they will have their clothing by their side. They will press another and they will have their newspaper. A third, and a motorcar will be waiting for them. They will have a variety of dished up food. Everything will be done by machinery."

In other words, Gandhi could have very well been describing an e-commerce site like Amazon, a transport app like Uber and a news app like Google News. In this excerpt, Gandhi foretold a future when man would depend on technology for his clothes, food and even for commuting. This might have sounded outlandish in 1909 but today this is exactly the kind of life we are living today.

Such is the power of internet today that we can get food delivered to our doorstep, book cabs, order clothes online and see what is going on around the world simply by pressing a button.

Runciman also writes that it is possible that Gandhi's ideas about future were inspired by The Machine Stops, a science fiction story by E M Forster that was published before Hind Swaraj. Yet, it is clear that Gandhi, in his own way and with his great insight into the way people think and what they want, anticipated a technology-filled darker future where "men will not need the use of their hands and feet."

The problem that Gandhi saw with a world full of something like internet is something that Runciman highlights. "Gandhi was an improbable prophet of the future of digital technology. Still, he was better at it than many technologists are," he writes.