In the last few decades the world has been grappling with one or the other kind of economic crisis. Should India go on following the Western concepts of development or is there any need to search for a new alternative?
Some thinkers have been trying to evolve an Indian (Bharatiya) model but due to the impact of West and some kind of lobbies in the intellectual arena nothing substantial has come about. An eminent economist Dr. Bajrang Lal Gupta, who is also an RSS Kshetra Sanghchalak, has come up with an innovative concept of Sumangalam, based on the Bharatiya ethos. Dr. Bajrang Lal Ji, who has written books like, “Value and Distribution System in Ancient India”, Bharat Ka Arthik Itihaas, Hindu Artha Chintan, elaborates on it.
First question to you is, do we really need to have Bharatiya model of development?
Definitely. Not just for Bharat, but for the entire world. All the prevalent concepts of development have proved to be incomplete and inconsistent. First the term “progress” was coined. Then it was called “growth”, later on termed as “development”. Then the term human development or quality of life came into circulation. All those who coined these terms and theories realized that the expression was inadequate and different from what they intended to mean.
When I gave it a thought, I felt in the Bharatiya tradition the word “Mangal” is multi-dimensional, so I evolved the concept of “Sumangalam” which is entirely in the line of what the world today believes, that concepts like holistic and integrated development can only provide solution to the problems of mankind.
So we started searching for an Indian model. The way we thought here, the King of Bhutan felt the same way. French President Sarkozy thought the same way too. In fact Sarkozy realised that the concept of development France has been following was incomplete. So he constituted a committee in order to evolve an alternative model. Amartya Sen was a member of the committee. Sarkozy suggested that the study of the Indian ethos and its socio-economic traditions would help find an alternative. At a recent ILO conference, it was mooted that the Indian family tradition could help resolve problems between an industrial owner and his workers. I have also made my attempt for a Bharatiya Model on similar lines.
Do you mean the prevailing economic models are unable to address our current problems?
What we are following in the economy today can be termed as the Western concept, that was evolved in the context of the problems the West had faced. Main points of it are as follows. First, when we talk about development we need to define it and it says that development is reflected through the GDP which is measured as the summation of market values of all goods and services produced in a country in a year. If we divide it to population it reflects per Capita Real GDP. So the GDP becomes a yardstick to measure development of any country. I strongly object to it because the way we calculate GDP is basically wrong. While calculating GDP we never take into account goods and services produced in the household by our mothers, sisters and wives. In countries, like India, within a family we are engaged in productive services. In the western countries all this happens in the market. So, they have higher GDP than what we have here. You have a kitchen garden. You produce vegetables, prepare them and consume them directly. There is no market involved in it, but that does not form component of our national GDP. In India, farmers produce, but consume a part of it and sell off the rest in the market. What we call marketable surplus. We would count only marketable surplus in GDP not what he has kept for self-consumption. So the calculation of GDP is basically erroneous.
Second, the concept of development says the more you consume, higher would be the demand. If there is demand, there would be production, with production come around employment. If all this happens then growth would take place. In fact, this is the reason consumerism had spread around the world. The global financial crisis that the US faced in 2008 was the outcome of consumerism. It is at the root of the present Global economic crisis.
The third thing in the Western model is that the production must go on increasing. To increase production two things are required – 1). Establishment of large industrial production structure based on machine driven and energy consuming technology. So machines would work more than the human beings would do. This would lead to unemployment and energy crisis. 2). Indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources. This would, of course, lead to degeneration of ecology and environment and increase pollution. That’s why the present models of development are not solving problems, instead they are increasing them.
If we talk about the Bharatiya concept of development what is it all about? You have termed it “Sumangalam”. What are its main features?
When I started thinking about the Bharatiya model, I read about concepts and theories adopted in developed countries. I studied about the impact and results of those economic models. Then I realised that in the name of development, in fact, destruction was taking place. This is what now all economists are talking about. In 1996 the Human Resource Development report pointed out that though there had been development in material terms, but it resulted in jobless growth, merciless development, rootless and voiceless development and futureless development. To that I added that it was an unethical (sanskar viheen) development, so we will have to evolve a new concept.
Then I started thinking how could we develop a Bharatiya model based on the values and vision of our thinkers. I felt the word “Mangal” is multi-dimensional, so I evovled the concept of “Sumangalam” which is multi-dimensional and has not just economic dimension, but has cultural, social and political facets to it as well. “Sumangalam” can thus be defined as a sustainable, egalitarian, integrated, integral, balanced and all round development with the help of indigenous resources, skills and values of life in the context expectations, needs, nature and socio-economic conditions.
The concept of “Sumangalam” talks about “sarve bhavantu sukhinah” (welfare of all), and it takes into consideration welfare of all living beings, which would include plants, animals, environment. So, it is a mullti-dimensional concept. This is the main aim of the “Manglam” concept. It has five sub-aims as well. First is that it would ensure bread for all. Bread means it would fulfil all basic needs of every person. No economic model in the world provides for it. We shall do it. Second, this model would ensure physical, mental and emotional health of all. It would involve not just allopathy, but also Ayurveda, Nature cure, Yoga, Pranayaam etc. It thus believes in holistic health system.
Third, it would provide equal opportunities to all for socially-relevant and culture-based education. Education must be socially relevant and help cultivate cultural values. Today the education system gives lot of content which is not relevant to the society. And fourth, it would provide employment to all. Every hand should have a work to do. And the last is security for all, both internal and external. All these five aspects form the basis of “Sumanglam” concept.
How to implement it?
This concept does not preclude consumption part of the economy all together. But it does provide for limited and restrained consumption. It should be in tune with the fact that everybody gets everything that is needed. It must not mean that a handful of people would live lavishly, while the rest would lead a miserable life. Effort is to get sustainable consumption pattern as a part of “Sumangalam”.
As far as globalisation is concerned, we are not opposed to it as such, but it should not be unfair globalisation. We need to have a new kind of international economic relations which make the economies inter-dependent, unlike the present times when some nations would make others dependent on them. It leads to exploitation. It is unfair. We are against unfair and exploitative globalisation. We favour globalisation, where trade is free in the sense that any country can import and export things according to its requirements.
The present system of WTO is providing forceful market access to certain countries who have been exploiting the poor. “Sumangalam” does not favour this kind of globalisation.
In the West we have a stream of Welfare Economics that talks about welfare of the people. Do you see any similarity between the Bharatiya concept and that the Welfare Economics? Is there any synergy between the two or are these entirely contradictory concepts?
There is some synergy, but both are not similar. The concept of Sumangalam and the Bharatiya vision of development are far ahead of what is said in the Welfare Economics. Welfare Economics is all about providing material equality. It does not talk about environment, animals and plants. “Sumanglam” extends the concept of welfare economics beyond its given term. It tends to include nature and the world as a whole. It talks about sustainability so that the coming generations are not deprived of resources. So, there is a synergy, but Sumangalam goes beyond it.
Normally, the two economic models that we talk about are the Capitalist or the Marxist. How is Bharatiya model different from those?
In fact, both, the Capitalist and the Marxist models have failed the world. What is capitalism all about? It focuses on individual interests, individual welfare. It propounds individual ownership over the means of production. So, whosoever has the means should be allowed to produce and consume independently. This resulted in wide inequality in the capitalist countries. A struggle between haves and have-nots started, which led to exploitation of non-resourceful people.
In reaction to that Marxism or Socialism came about, which suggested nationalisation of all resources. This means government would own them. So the government would decide what job to do, what to eat, what to wear. As if all are prisoners. This blunted the incentive and initiative in the socialist countries. That’s why the Russian economy collapsed.
Both the concepts proved inadequate and incomplete. On the contrary, in the Bharatiya concept, ownership of resources neither by individuals nor by the government is regarded appropriate. All resources are God-given. Who brought rivers here? Who brought minerals here? Who brought us the ocean or the forests? It all belongs to the society, whom we have termed as God. In this context we talked about social ownership or trusteeship principles. If we go by this, there would neither be exploitation nor would it compromise the dignity of self. That is why the concept of Sumangalam is wider than that of capitalism or socialism.
In 1992 Prof. Bokre published a Book ‘Hindu Economics’. How does that book help in conceptualising the Bharatiya model?
Interesting. You know Prof. MG Bokre used to be a guide and philosopher to the Intellectual cell of the Communist Party. Very established man. When he was Vice-Chancellor in the Nagpur University, he came in contact with Dattopant Thengadi Ji and people like us. He was honest and established. Once Dattopant Ji asked him to study Hindu “shastra”. He did that and said his eyes had been opened. Whatever he had kept saying, hearing, or teaching was contrary to all this. Thereafter he wrote the book, Hindu Economics, and became the first all-India convener of the Swdeshi Jagran Manch. He tried to say in the book that the Hindu thought is not all about prayers and tapasya, instead it has some economic philosophy as well. That book became very popular the world-over. Unfortunately the book did not get due recognition. But I am sure in times to come the book would be acknowledged in academic circles in our country.
Could you please tell us about some other books and writers who have commented on the Bharatiya concept of economics?
Before the Independence and after it, there have been number of thinkers who worked on this concept. But they did not get due recognition. For instance Prof. GK Mehta of the Allahabad University floated the concept of “wantlessness”. He said at the end what is the aim of economics? It is to reach the stage of “wantlessness”, the stage of “nirvana”. The purpose is not to increase your desires and wants, but to reduce them.
Then we had Prof Brahmananad Ji in the Bombay University. He was a big name in Economics. So, he gave the concept of “Dharmonomics”.
Then another economist Dr. VKRV Rao, who was also a member of the Planning Commission and a head in the Delhi School of Economics, wrote a book, “Value and Economic Development”. He stressed that human values cannot be kept aside in an economy. Shriman Narayan has done a pioneer work in the Gandhi economics. He wrote a book, Towards Gandhian Plan. Even Shyamcharan Dubey, wrote a book “Vikaas ka samajshastra” (in Hindi) and former union HRD Minister Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi wrote a book, Science Stability and Indian National Resurgence”.
Even my research work which included works like “Value and The Distribution System in Ancient India”, “Hindu Arth Chintan” and “Parayvaran Premi Hindu Drishti”, and then “Vikas ka Ek Naya Pratimaan, Sumangalam”, which has been translated in five languages. There are many books like that which can address the search for the Bharatiya concept of development.