Self Reliance is about contentment
Continuing from yesterday………..
As I highlighted yesterday, “Self Reliance” may be mostly a political slogan at this point in time; as not many people in the government, legislature and administration appear to be adequately clear about the concept itself. It would be a great idea if the government comes out with a white paper on the issue.
In my view it is important to assimilate the following considerations, if we truly want to evolve into a ‘Self Reliant” economy.
First of all, we need to accept that “self reliance” is primarily a philosophical concept. Its economic implications are mostly incidental. The flow of “self reliance” therefore begins from the core of society, i.e., the individual, and moves outward toward the community and the State. For a State to be self reliant, all its constituents, i.e., individuals, communities, traditions, customs, culture, etc need to commit unconditionally to the objective of self reliance. Any incongruence amongst various constituents will defeat the purpose. A few individuals or communities aspiring to be globally competitive, wealthy, and famous, and therefore placing their lives relative to the others, may not allow the State to become self reliant.
Secondly, it is to be understood that the traditional Indian tenet of “contentment” is quintessential to the concept of self reliance. The individuals and communities must work to limit their needs, desires and aspirations to the spiritual goal of realizing the greatest truth, and designate the material pursuits only as a mean of subsistence.
As Gandhi ji stated, the western life style of chasing material and financial wealth cannot lead to self sufficiency, swaraj or self reliance. In fact the whole idea of economic development, as we are pursuing today focuses on centralization of power – political and economic.
Third, the pseudo socialist and quasi feudal nature of our democracy often leads to wasteful expenditure, policies and plans focused on winning elections rather than achieving sustainable economic growth and development, serious misallocation of capital and sub-optimal use of resources. We have seen politicians creating undue demand for color televisions, smart phones, laptop computers etc. by manipulating the process of democracy. In rural and semi-urban areas, motor cycle has replaced bicycle as a mandatory dowry item. These days, it is almost impossible to marry your daughter if you cannot afford a motorcycle in dowry. Smart phones also find place in most ‘demand lists’. It is clear that our society is defying the classic McGregor’s evolutionary pyramid and moving directly from sustenance to aspirational consumption. The demand thus created is neither desirable nor sustainable.
Fourth, self reliance shall essentially result in material disengagement from the global economy. In the modern day context when geopolitical and cultural relations have essentially become a subset of economic relations, this disengagement may not be limited to trade and commerce issues.
Having these considerations will essentially bring us to the Bhutanese model of development, where the focus is on the individuals’ happiness and spiritual elevation rather than the length of the roads & railways, strength of the armies, and other meaningless economic statistics.
The governance then will have to be modeled on the traditional concept of Ram Rajya – where the socio-economic equality & justice is prime consideration for the King, who is always subservient to the subjects.
Obviously, not many people think in these terms when swearing by self reliance. So, what are the implications for self reliance as being understood popularly?….to be continued tomorrow