The policies and programmes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are all in line with his understanding of Integral Humanism that he has imbibed through life
‘Chiti’ is the soul of the nation. On the strength of this ‘Chiti’, a nation arises, strong and virile….it is this ‘Chiti’ that is demonstrated in the actions of every great man of a nation.. Secret to success of the Nation lies in understanding its ‘Chiti’ – Its innate nature, “Chiti is the touchstone on which each action, each attitude is tested, and determined to be acceptable or otherwise. – Deendayal Upadhyaya
What has really changed since the rise of Modi? What has he done differently, whether in finance or Indian polity, that we can say that his approach to political economy is different from all his predecessors?
Demonetisation is the biggest upheaval in Indian economic policy arena since independence. Reams of papers and terabytes of virtual space has been filled with reactions to this rarely heard action that has rendered all other actions of his pale into insignificance.
However, I would like to sidestep this significant development till concrete results are out, to look at the larger picture of Indian economy and where it is headed under Shri Modi.
Many politicians and so-called intellectuals and opinion makers have refused to note that Modi is working to a plan. His actions since coming to power, if studied carefully, show a pattern. Unfortunately, for the critics, it is not what they would have liked to see.
Series of actions he has taken tell us that all his efforts are towards financial inclusion of disadvantaged classes into the national mainstream, through various policy initiatives, because ultimately without two morsels of food in stomach, nothing makes sense- ‘Bhookhe bhajan na hoye Gopala.’
His actions so far show that he is deeply influenced by Integral Humanism (IH) espoused by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.
While many RSS-oriented organisations like Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch have been talking incessantly about Integral Humanism, none has offered a concrete model of development based on Integral Humanism. There have been talks and talks; and regurgitating of same theory in different words. The theory was not put to practice except in Rajasthan Government under Bharion Singh Shekhawat with Antyoday. Some have been formulated in Madhya Pradesh. Very few books or papers got published with practical application of Integral Humanism.
For the layperson, what does Integral Humanism imply in practice? How can Integral Humanism be used as a compass to design public policy?
According to Integral Humanism, an Individual is at the centre of scheme of things. An individual is connected in an integrated way, to the family to the society to nation and finally to the universe of Mother Nature. Unlike western concept these entities are not connected in concentric circles, disconnected from each other. They are integrated with each other in an outward spiral. No individual is isolated as an island of self.
Antyodaya espoused by Deendayal Upadhyaya talks of fruits of development reaching to the last man in the queue.
Integral Humanism tells us that human being is not just a materialist animal. An individual human being is a body with a soul or heart, mind and intellect that is not satisfied with material fulfilment of physical wants but needs spiritual solace too. Even an animal is satisfied with fulfilment of basic raw desires – like hunger, sex and sleep. Human welfare in Hindu philosophy means fulfilment of four types of actions or purusharthas in life – dharma (rule of law, ethical conduct), arth (wealth creation), kaam (desires), moksha (breaking free from cycle of birth and death).
Russian and Chinese socialism and similar other experiments that looked only at physical wants of human being failed. Western parameters of GDP failed. Capitalism has failed to make human beings happy as number of cases of depression, psychological disorders indicate. This is why the concept of Gross Happiness Index (GHI) came up. This is closer to all round fulfilment that Integral Humanism espouses.
The problem with Western political philosophies is that materialism and satisfaction of material wants is at the centre of their thought, whether it is socialism or capitalism. Only difference is about who will control the means of production.
Decentralisation espoused by Integral Humanism has been strength of Indian economy. This village-republic model gave India strength. Invasions and plunder didn’t snuff out Indian industry or economy as it was not concentrated in the hands of the all powerful king or central authority. We thrived inspite of so many adversities. Indian economy collapsed due to ill-effect of centralised British approach to fill its treasuries with highly exploitative taxes.
Most importantly, Deendayal Upadhyay advocates an economic model that is based on innate nature – ‘Chiti’ – of a nation. Economic model not copied or transposed from another culture.
And what is the ‘Chiti’ or ‘innate’ nature of this nation?
Institution of family has been its biggest strength – both at the economic level and individual level. In the name of western stress on extreme ‘Individual Liberty’ over everything else, families became nuclear and then reduced to one parent families or individual atomic lives. This has created big psychological crises at societal level in its wake. It has also resulted in lesser savings.
Savings (not just money but also conservation of all types of resources, including the economics of recycling) and avoiding wasteful expenditure or waste of resources was innate in its behaviour. This is being sought to be killed by promotion of consumerism. Persuading people to invest more in uncertain share markets than in secure savings have proved disastrous in many global economies where not just people but entire economy lives on credit.
Spirit of entrepreneurship – nearly every Indian citizen wishes to start his/her own enterprise. India is supposed to have highest per capita shops in the world. Very few wish to serve under others. This was the secret of successful Indian economy earlier on. Socialist mindset that wished to govern all aspects of life meant converting everybody into a servant or employee of big government machinery.
Village republics – Self dependant Indian community managed its own affairs through its village, its panchayat and its own self-generated resources, without looking at the government of the day. Over centralisation power with central and state governments saw shrinking of village panchayats into powerless bodies and converting rural folks into beggars visiting district offices for any and every requirement.
Respecting nature – idea of worshipping rivers, mountains, trees and other elements of nature was to show respect to them as sustainers of life. Thus, conservation of nature was part of daily life. Mindless exploitation has brought the world on brink of disaster.
After Independence, our planners made a few critical mistakes in designing their economic development models. Their model did not take into account our unique history, diversity and cultural ethos. Blinded by their love of socialist model and Marxist philosophy they undermined and discounted our biggest asset – our culture; a living culture that had created most successful material and spiritual development models – proven through its 5000 year old documented known history. This resulted in alienation of people from the planners and development processes.
Modi’s actions so far in line with Integral Humanism
Since our new rulers didn’t have sense of history and civilizational memory, contaminated by West oriented Marxist interpretation; they believed they were crafting a new nation and a new culture based on western model, that didn’t have as tried and tested cultural heritage as India.
Rulers did not have a vision, nor did they work on creating a 100 year vision for a nation that was not born on August 15, 1947 but an ancient nation that was newly liberated. No great civilisation has developed well without a long-term vision. At best the early governments fed on woolly headed Fabian Socialism could think of 5 year plans controlled centrally by a powerful Central Government. This killed the innate vibrant spirit of entrepreneurship that had seen India rule global economy even as late as 1850s. This resulted in a crawling rate of growth insultingly labelled ‘Hindu Rate of Growth’.
If we look at our economic policies since 1947, we can see distinct
- Fabian Socialism brought in by Nehru from 1947 that lasted till 1990 with some minor deviations
- 1990 to 2009 – Liberalisation and decisive turn from Left to Right
- 2004-2014 – showing signs of turning left again. Latter part was decisive Left turn though people remained ‘Right’.
- However, period between 1965-66 saw some small efforts at liberalization that killed and decisive left turn taken by Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1967. Agriculture revolution began in 1965 under Lal Bahadur Shastri
- In the 80s, the government led by Rajiv Gandhi began with light reforms with reduction in license raj, promotion of telecome in a big way. But his urge for populist measures led to huge balance of payment problem by 1985 and 1987 saw some turn back to left. Worst time was when 67 tonnes of Gold had to be pledged to IMF as Indian economy gasped for breath, in 1990. With advent of PV Narasimha Rao, under pressure from IMF, India finally took a decisive right turn.
Advent of Modi: A break from the Past
If you look at PM Modi’s actions carefully, he is focused on working on Indian political economy in line with ‘Chiti’ of this nation. He has invoked various symbols that have awakened a sense of connect with ancient Indian culture and a sense of pride that will inspire people to act with good of country as the guiding light. Fortitude with which citizens have borne the difficulties after demonetisation shows that this spirit of larger good of the society and optimism has inspired them to behave this way.
Demonetisation should be seen in the light of these projects as the next step where poor is not disadvantaged because he/she cannot rise because of lack of access to resources that corrupt people corner. With dishonesty under tight leash, poor can expect somewhat level playing field. This is the reason people from the lower economic strata, in spite of all the difficulties, are supporting PM Modi wholeheartedly.
People are not supporting it as the panacea of anti-corruption crusade but as a good beginning that will be sustained with more action.
Those opposing demonetisation do not appreciate that ultimately corruption benefits rich and powerful at the expense of poor. One keeps one’s toilets or gutters choked because they will get choked again.
Thus, Shri Modi has understood the Chiti of Bharat i.e. India. His policies and programmes are all in line with his understanding of Integral Humanism that he has imbibed through life. For the first time, in the times of peace, not war, we find citizens willing to
sacrifice-gas subsidies earlier and now their own time and energy standing in queues to support the
eradication of corruption. It is a long journey no doubt. It requires us all to break the vicious cycle of corruption feeding on us. We are part of this chain. Only we can break the chain, honest and sincere government can only enable us to do so.
(The writer is a Mumbai based colummnist)