It is terribly regretting that the economist leadership of India has completely failed the country and disappointed the people. When the insensitivity of the leadership reaches the level where they are not ashamed to tell lies publicly, not once, not twice but for years after years, it disqualifies them to be called leadership and government. In reality, Indian government has been dysfunctional for almost more than 9 years in a row, but the media and renowned personalities applaud the Prime Minister for such a wonderful feat! What was considered politically incorrect till about a few months back, had been spilled by no less a person than a General Secretary of the ruling party when he issued a public statement that the two centres of power model has failed the country. It is the two centres of power model period when the reins of government have been in the hands of the economists. But there is no evidence to suggest that the failure of the economist rulers is due to the two centres of power model. It is just possible that their failure would have been more disastrous had it not been effectively supervised by the experienced old guards in the political wing of the party, which was under the fullest control of the party high command. What justifies drawing such a conclusion?
It is the economic model our economist are familiar with which has caused such unprecedented misery to the people in general. They are highly erudite scholars of all the economic theories, ideas and models devised by the economists of the Industrialized World. The industrial revolution gave an advantage to the technologically advanced countries to “exploit” the global markets, through monopolies over technology and goods and services. These were virgin markets, where the need for goods and services attracted them. The technologically deprived countries could do nothing excepting following the dictates of the monopolists. All the economic thought, theories and propositions emanating from writers from the monopolist countries served only their interests. So capitalism, communism, laissez faire, market forces, open economy, centralized economy, protectionism, globalization etc flowed with gay abundance from the powerful pens of the economic theorists from the monopoly countries. The countries monopolizing the technology grew by leaps and bounds in their foreign trade and registered very high growth in their economy. Such enormity of trade took them to the newer territories, where they were followed by missionaries also. Such expansion demanded management skills to promote & manage their businesses and capture new territories. Management theories started taking birth. They also needed local people to manage part of their businesses locally. There arose the need for education and training for the local people. They were not disappointed, at least by countries like India, which provided them not merely local support staff but also secondment of experts in other geographies where their businesses were running or proposed to be opened. Several experts proved more audacious and took up teaching and training positions in these very countries. It is these experts, several of them award winning and occupying the highest positions in universities and businesses,who are under the magic spell of the theories of the writers of those countries and seek to replicate them word by word in India. There may be nothing wrong with imitating those theories of economic progress if a country has no economic past. But for a country that has a glorious economic past of more than 5000 years, the models and theories propounded by the thinkers of the industrial revolution may not be and, are not, totally relevant. India had seen glorious industrial past for centuries; India had dominated the global trade for centuries; India had promoted knowledge society so tenaciously that scholars were assured of their economic well being by the state. Can such a past be ignored? Can such egregious mistakes be made by economic theorists of India? The political leadership of the initial tough times post independence saw a leadership informed of the traditional wisdom and was further benefited by the new age ideas. It was that mix, that blending, that selection which laid the foundations of a solid economy of the country. What the economist rulers are indulging in is simply upending everything built so assiduously. Taking shelter behind “reforms”, these economic leaders are indulging in deadly experiments with the national economy. In these 9+ years of their control, the whole economic institutional infrastructure has either been upturned or simply made non-functional and closed down. Policies, tried and tested, have been abandoned and the country has been tottering and rambling in a state of policy paralysis. Industrial growth has been negative, manufacturing has gone down drastically, exports have dwindled, imports have risen and current account deficit stands at an all time high level. The people’s purchasing power has eroded, the value of rupee has suffered several silent devaluations, inflation has been consistently high, prices are creating civil strife situations, lawlessness and crime are on the rise, corruption is now scams and historic and governance has been missing. The economist leadership doesn’t know what to do and how to improve the situation.
This situation is a result of blindly following the economic models of the industrial revolution kind. These ideas have failed the world earlier, whether it was the great recession or the world wars or the recent economic meltdown. High taxes and high subsidies are simply economic relief patches to insulate a sturdy economy from slowdown or meltdown effects. They are not, and can never be, permanent solutions of economic problems of society or a substitute for what has been termed as sustainable development. With the end of colonization, newly independent countries also took to industrialization, resulting in shrinking of the “market” for the monopolies. As the “developing countries” become developed and the “least developed” qualify for the tag of developing, this market will shrink further. Economies based on exports can prosper for a few decades only before they suffer slowdown and deceleration of economic growth. China proves that point. So does the USA and Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and several other countries. If peace somehow gets established in the world, the global international trade will drastically go down. The world economy has been saved largely by the fruits of the internet revolution. Who knows shrinking agriculture and growing urbanization may not trigger the worst economic slowdown in the near future? Environmental pollution, climate change and water scarcity are already threatening world peace. Peace means prosperity, elimination of hunger & disease and eradication of poverty. The current economic models do not promote peace, harmony and coexistence in the world. Rather they tend to provoke conflicts, because the fear of a war promotes the market for their weapons, run their production facilities, protect jobs and maintain their living standards. They can’t be blamed for lack of thinking on the part of others. Can the Indian economists, resident or non-resident, devote their energies to unravel the Indian economic model for the welfare of the people living in India at least, if not exporting it lock stock and barrel like Buddhism?
The Indian model will surface if the principles of social economics, moral economics and humanitarian economics are identified and applied. For example, society has to shoulder the responsibility of providing succor to the needy to some extent as human beings. An old widowed woman unable to look after herself should be happily helped by the families in the neighbourhood. It is not charity, not mercy, nor obligation: it is just humanitarian. Such traditional practices ensure not only nourishing food to the deprived or needy or old or disabled, but nurtures elevating human feelings. Absence of such basic humanity is contributing to crimes, where neither family nor neighbourhood is safe and secure either for the men or the women, girl or the boy, child or the grownups. It costs nothing, if I may mention my own experience. No single family feeds such a needy person, but every family sends one roti (Indian bread) and a little vegetable from their family meal. The needy gets a variety and as good or as bad food as her neighbours. Another instance is of a mentally challenged person, who received his food from the well intentioned citizens. He was given clothes, which he would simply tear off. But on festivals I had always seen him in new clothes. Then there is the concept of fast. Which charter gives every human being the fundamental right to have 2 or four meals a day? There is shortage of food in nature, if the food chain and struggle to get food is any indication. Unless the human society decided to share the available food and water (the nectar of life), there is no hope of peace and good living for them. The industrialization era thinkers would ask for laws, regulations and rules to govern distribution. Half of the economic literature is only about distribution and price; the other half being demand and supply. The Indian model suggests that consumption is regulated. Obesity is a direct result of overeating. Individuals and nations consume more simply because they can afford to eat more! What a funny logic: might is right. How can you eat full stomach when the other is not able to get even a morsel? You will end up producing thousands of Hitlers. The Indian model prescribes that food is to be shared. India has never favoured or actively promoted monopoly of food. The inconsistencies now visible emerged during the centuries of foreign rule. But the economic relevance of fast was never abandoned. On the other hand, Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest proponent of the Indian model of economics blended the politics of fast with the economics of fast. The political and economic alloy that it produced, proved a more powerful weapon than all the weapons in the armoury of the British government. Gandhi not only won freedom for India, but also gifted the world a potent non-violent weapon for use, free of any recurring royalty or down payment. Just imagine the world not eating one meal every fortnight, leading to the saving of food for distribution to the deficit countries and peoples. Consider this seemingly contradictory theory: every person is advised to devote the first quarter of life to acquiring knowledge, skills and gainful productive employment. The next part of life immediately following this phase was required to be devoted exclusively to earning and wealth creation. But it was ordained that wealth was an ephemeral asset that was to move from one to the other, like from father to son. It was an illusion and the real happiness lay in further pursuit of knowing the nature of Creation and the nature of Nature. This economic theory practically promoted acquisition according to one’s capabilities and competencies to meet one’s legitimate needs, but not greed. Hence possession and acquisition was viewed inferior to dispossession and abandonment. The means of production and incomes were not meant to be controlled by a few in society. Promoting such sound economic theories will encourage fair trade practices, without creating billionaires (Bill Gates and Barren Buffets and Azim Premjis) at the cost of millions of people in the first instance and then get a part of it in philanthropy. Compare the two distinct approaches and draw your own conclusions. I have only touched upon these instances simply to illustrate the point. It is for economists, both social and political, to explore, research and publicize their work. There is no harm in updating our own models by liberally borrowing from the industrial thinkers. But it needs to be noted that industrial revolution has already seen its most glorious business phase. For happiness in life, the healthy ingredients of the pre-industrialization era will need to be restored to their glory and rehabilitated. What use is colonizing the moon or the mars, if mother Earth is being destroyed. While it has taken mankind centuries to bring about an industrial revolution, it won’t take Nature to annihilate all this in a nano second. The industrial revolution products of economics are only partially relevant to India and need beneficiation and tempering by indigenous thoughts. It only underlines the significance of political and social economics. The country can hardly suffer these economic leaders anymore.
We can ill afford to remain a market for others for long. We need to innovate, research and develop. It is not difficult for India to invent products like mobile phones, pharmaceuticals or other manufactured products and achieve sales like any developed country. We have strayed too far for far too long. Social economics of the Indian kind does not approve of commercialization and trade of everything. Many aspects of daily living are traded socially without any kind of monetary transactions. Urban living is affecting the social etiquette in to opportunities of quick money. Our economist leadership is talking inanities, banalities, superficialities and trivializing poverty. They don’t even understand that Indians don’t need subsidies but work/employment. Under the economist leaders, employment has been squeezed and is being outsourced to already developed countries in the name of foreign direct investment. When imported products would become easily available, who will buy indigenous products? That would lead to closure of production units and loss of jobs. What kind of economics would that be which would impose poverty on the people perennially.