Dr M K Bhat
I do not know whether I shall pat on my back or put my head in shame, when I find 48 people from my country in the Forbes magazine’s rich list, China has 96 and USA has 421 billionaires. The world’s largest house belongs to Mukesh Ambani (an Indian) – 27 story sky scrapper in Mumbai involving 400,000 square feet for five people, consuming almost half of the water of Mumbai municipal corporation, while on the other hand, 40 per cent of India’s population lives below poverty line, farmers suicide has become a routine and the consumption of more than 70 per cent of the population is less than Rs 20 per day. There is illiteracy, no clean water, improper hygienic facilities and lack of balanced diet. Proper living facilities are still a dream for millions. The Government policies seem to be leading to the enrichment of the insiders. Inequality is visible in terms of the distribution of wealth, income, consumption etc. The economic disparity is widening day by day and going to be detrimental to the existence of the federal character of the country.
Government talks about economic growth but fails to see the current rate of inflation which can help only rich to save and invest more and thereby boosts the exclusive growth rate. The government pats on its back, because of the growth rate without taking the increase in employment or the plight of common people into consideration. There seems a little trickledown effect from rich class to poor people. The majority is yet to get their basic rights and is in the same condition at the time of independence. This unequal growth slows down the demand and in long term influences the whole economy. The Gandhian concepts of gram swaraj and trusteeship principle were neglected just after independence of the country. Gandhi became a vote catching machine for certain politicians. Brand Gandhi was popularised not his teachings.
It seems that the economic system was purposely designed to keep the majority at the lower end so that the various doles at the election time may influence the voter. This developed an attitude of demanding things and political parties took advantage by throwing bits as per their requirement. The second idea can be that our policy framers were swayed by the existing economic systems and failed to think beyond them or were least interested in putting the things as per Indian ethos in practice.
We may borrow clothes from others but it is not necessary that they may be fit to use. We adopted a mixed economic set up in 1947 and by 1990 we had a huge debt and foreign exchange problem. We had to mortgage gold for sustaining our economy. There was wrong focus and the things neither solved the problems of poverty and misery in the country nor it led to harmonious social development. It also failed to have a strong foundation for our economy. In 1990, we started a new race for capitalism under the guise of economic liberalisation and today we are having financial deficit, inflation, farmer’s suicide, inequality and so on to our credit. The assurances about better tomorrow seem hollow day by day and all the ills are ascribed to the recession in US and Europe. This in no way certifies that everything is good at the domestic front but points to the need for introspection. Corruption has got into our body polity like moth. It has polluted our investment environment to a great extent. Investors, both domestic and foreign are finding it quite difficult to invest in the present system.
The faith of people in the economic system is practically coming to a lower level. The high promises of our politicians are becoming an illusion for the common man raising questions like; Why rural development was not taken seriously? Why the job opportunities have not increased despite the increase in GDP? What about the rich handicrafts of India, have we failed to save them? Why it seems that 1947 has led to the freedom of some not all? Have we developed an India of unequal opportunities? When will all of us get, enough to eat, wear, and for good living? Why agriculture has been neglected despite providing livelihood to 60 per cent of the total population? To advertise that right to food or education will solve the problem is just a wishful thinking. It needs a system in which masses will be equal partners and they may produce more for the whole country.
We adopted socialistic pattern which only taught to make the rich poor so as to level the society. It in other words teaches negativity and develops hatred between the two unequal groups in the society. The forceful techniques to snatch power or wealth from strong have only led to bloodshed and little results. The failure of communism worldwide is now a history. The second pattern adopted since 1990 i.e. capitalistic in nature teaches selfishness and makes people to pursue their short benefits at whatever cost. It talks of individualism and breaks down the pluralistic societies. Its status world- wide gets well exposed by the problems currently in U.S. and Europe. It plays in the hands of the big fish. The divorce from our value based economic system has led to a society which is neither western nor purely eastern in its approach. It is hardly as per Indian ethos and gives birth to vulgarity in every field.
It is high time to make a balance between materialist and moral values. The Indian way of life in which both get automatically adjusted. The country shall have both Roti and Ram. Roti stands for materialistic values. It ends up in chaos if devoid of Ram, because human needs never diminish, Ram is Dharma. Dharma talks of good for all and bad for none. The irony over the years has been that we pursued Roti and ignored Ram and the result is a big chain of scandals as the law of diminishing utility does not apply on greed. It is the dharma of the policy makers to see that the interests of majority which is still wedded to agriculture are duly addressed. The less attention to this sector is not only leading to suffering of the majority but also compelling people to migrate to cities thereby putting undue pressure on them. The small scale industries which contribute nearly 40 per cent of our exports need to be taken care of. The agro based industries need encouragement so as to remove the disgusted workforce from agriculture. There is a need to develop village centric policies rather than having the same policy for all the villages. This may involve decentralisation of funds and powers for good governance. Development of villages will ultimately lead to the development of the country as India is a country of villages. Nation first should be the ethos of every Indian, rich or poor. The spirit of sacrifice for the needy in our value system has been our greatest strength. It needs to be inculcated in the economic system. The value based society will not only lead to equality but may also help in protecting the unity and integrity of the country.
(The writer is Principal, MAIMS GGSI, P University Sector 22 Rohini Delhi)