Economic Vision : Beyond Binaries
As the materialistic and faulty lifestyle is at the centre of the crisis confronting the present-day development and system, we need to strive for development of a self-reliant, decentralised economic system based on Gram Sankul and family
In the prayers sung daily at the shakhas of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, ‘Param Vaibhav’ (glorious state) of the nation has been presented as its ultimate objective. The same thing is reiterated in the pledge made by swayamsevaks in the form of ‘sarvangin unnati’ (all-round progress). Sangh is engaged in the direction of realising this aim at both conceptual and practical plane. When we consider it from a theoretical point of view, we realise that the concept of Param Vaibhav is much more vast, comprehensive, and balanced as compared to the currently prevalent concepts of growth, progress and development. The Sangh officials have held a series of meetings to deliberate on this issue along with junior-senior members working in diverse fields with the vision and inspiration provided by the Sangh. A consensus was reached that the current concept of GDP-based growth and development is incomplete and misleading and for a country like India it is entirely impractical, imbalanced and incomplete. So, we should try to further hone and explore this concept by beginning a discussion on Swadeshi or Indian path or model of development.
Weakness of Western Model
The western model of development is based on the premise of economic man according to which all the decisions of a human being are driven by monetary considerations. Under this, development has been defined in terms of GDP and per capita income. This computation of GDP is incomplete and faulty. This does not include the household work done by women, production for self-consumption, and social and voluntary work. On the other hand, it does not exclude from computation activities like making furniture out of cutting trees, air pollution travelling caused by driving motor vehicles, the smoke emanating from chimneys of factories, etc. So, the GDP-based development has become impractical and irrelevant today. Under it, raising the standard of living by the consumption of maximum goods and services has been construed as the aim of life. It promotes a consumerist and materialistic lifestyle which is responsible for all kinds of economic problems and crisis. The ever present needs and aspirations for consumption lead to an emphasis on increase in production. Two actions are initiated for achieving increase in production:
(a) The ruthless, over-exploitation of natural resources – It is further accentuating the problem of environmental damage and pollution.
(b) Setting up heavy industries and production-systems based on machine-driven energy-consuming technology. It has led to energy-crisis and the problem of unemployment. Two questions arise with regard to what has been achieved in the name of growth –
Can it be termed as the development that makes human beings happy?
Is it possible and practical to make this kind of development available for all countries and human beings of the world? Or, is it a practicable and sustainable development-path?
When we examine these questions in the light of facts, we find the answer of both these questions to be in the negative. The prosperous and developed nations of the world which comprise 20 per cent of the world population, consume 80 per cent of the resources of the world for their consumption, production structure and lifestyle. Besides this, as a consequence, the threat of water pollution, air pollution and soil pollution and polluted environment around us is increasing by the day. Not only this, human relationships, sensibilities and feelings too are getting polluted.So, the present concept of development is neither practical nor viable.
Indian Development-path: A New Way
The present definition and measurement of development (based on GDP, consumerism, energy, machine and capital-intensive technology) is both wrong and misleading. So, in keeping with an integral worldview and inclusive vision of life, efforts should be made to develop a comprehensive, meaningful and practical model of development, yardsticks, policy, strategy and structure in sync with the nature and propensity of Indian economy, our culture, hopes, desires, needs, resources, capacity, potential, skills and talents.
There should be harmony between ethics, economy, ecology, energy and employment, based on the four goals of life: Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. Culture and prosperity, good conduct and economic dealings should run in tandem. We should evolve economic policies and systems that are free of corruption, black money and black-marketeering. We should try to achieve
employment for all with the vision of sarvajan hitaay
sarvajan sukhaay, welfare of all, and comprehensive social wellbeing (strategy of employment-oriented development instead of development-oriented employment); livelihood for all (implying fulfillment of the basic needs of all), health for all; equal opportunities for socially-relevant and ethical education and formulation of economic infrastructure and policy which aims at continuous progress with social justice.
For economic decentralisation, it’s necessary to have small units of production. We can have an ideal community unit comprising 10 to 15 villages which can function effectively for increasing agriculture and industrial production in the country. This unit can provide adequate opportunities for local initiatives and enterprises. This way, there is a need for the reconstitution of the ailing economic and political system of India by reorganising and reviving Indian villages in the form of self-governed units.
There is an important role and place for small industries in India for achieving increase in employment, ensuring equality in generation and distribution of wealth, making the best use of the vast labour force, local resources and skills, industrial decentralisation and the use of various things for export market, etc. So, India’s small scale sector can be made strong and capable by paying immediate attention to all its problems.
India needs a technology which is conducive for its peculiar nature, needs, ideals and values of life, which can adequately address and provide timely solution to the problems confronting the nation and which is suitable for the social-economic circumstances of the country. Our technology should be based on the harnessing of the power of Nature, rather than its over-exploitation. We need a technology which can save capital and energy, which is labour intensive and can enhance productivity too.
To develop the above technology, India will have to work simultaneously in two directions:
(a) To improve the already available conventional technology in the country. This area contains immense possibilities for the future development of the country.
b) To make the modern technology in tune with the needs and resources of the country. The immediate transfer of foreign technology is a dangerous process. Technology has to be moulded in such a way that instead of weakening our established values and goals, it provides preservation and nourishment to them.
The real alternative to capitalistic and communist systems is a decentralised and self-reliant economic system, conducted and controlled by people in the light of dharma. But this decentralised economic system can be made much more productive than earlier.
A Sustainable Development Model
We should make plans and policies for water harvesting and management, soil conservation, forest management and expansion, organic farming, use of panchgavya; alternative energy; indigenous technique and technology; the health tradition and medicine system of the country; Ayurveda, Yoga, and our herbal wealth. Particularly for India, there should be policies and systems that focus on land, water, forests, animals, and the conservation, promotion and right use of the available resources in the form of biodiversity.There is a need for formulating appropriate policies and systems that can protect the interests of farmers (especially small and marginal), workers (especially those of unorganised sector), craftsmen, retailers, small cottage and agro-based industries, while balancing the role and functions of heavy industries and large companies with a view to strengthening the country’s production capacity, and infrastructural system.
The materialistic and faulty lifestyle is at the centre of the crisis confronting the present-day development and system. Today the moot question is: what needs to be done to develop a restrained, virtuous, and thrifty life-style. There are two basic formulas for restraint for developing this kind of lifestyle. How to prepare ourselves for such a mental state? Today’s intellectuals have to work to find answers to these questions.
There is a need for initiating experiments for implementing integrated and harmonious development model based on the assessment of the experiences, achievements and difficulties faced in grass-root development projects going on in different parts of the country. It is imperative to foster a spirit of self-awareness, self-respect and self-employment in society through moral leadership. Only then we can build a sustainable economic system, viable technology and value-based social mechanism. We need to strive for development of a self-reliant, decentralised economic system based on Gram Sankul and family.
RSS is striving to turn the concept of Param Vaibhav into realty for the last several years. A large number of learned scholars in India and abroad now hold the view that the GDP-based development path leads to more complications rather than solving any problems. It has utterly failed in presenting a long-term solution to the challenges of hunger, poverty, unemployment and environment facing the country today. The privileged and affluent small section of society has appropriated the fruits of all the development achieved in the country. So, no way it can be termed as inclusive development (Sabka Saath – Sabka Vikas), in other words it is unable to ensure the participation of all sections of society in development. It has failed to bring any changes in the life of the poor, especially those standing at the lowest rung of society. So the academics, scholars, policy-makers and administrators have begun intensive brainstorming on changing the vision and direction of the present development-path. It has been the cherished belief of Sangh that mere material prosperity cannot be good for the country and society. Therefore, we should pay heed to the material as well as spiritual progress, only then we can make the concept of Param Vaibhav a reality. |We cannot build an inclusive, mass welfare-oriented socio-economic structure by neglecting our religion, ethics and culture. Now, this thought is finding acceptance among the intelligentsia.
The swayamsevaks of Sangh are engaged in diverse activities to give a practical shape to this concept with the help of social-cultural and artistic institutions. They are working in several areas like village development, cow promotion, organic farming, solar energy, water harvesting, construction of ponds and check dams, sanitation, education and values, health, Yoga, naturopathy, etc. Gradually, the society too is beginning to share this vision. It is expected that very soon India will be able to guide the welfare of the whole world by presenting an ideal illustration of the comprehensive and balanced vision of Param Vaibhav and development.
(The writer is Uttar Kshetra Snghachalak of RSS and Eminent Economist)