Saturday, November 04, 2006

Wasteful Consumption Vs self respect

Couple of weeks back I wrote a blog about Muhammad Yusuf and his micro credit concept. This trigged interested discussion among my friends circle and finally we all converged and agreed about a single word: ‘Empowerment’. The empowerment is the only way to solve problems like poverty, illiteracy in countries like India and it needs to be done at all levels ranging from family to government. When individuals are empowered, they get access to information and knowledge which will improve the quality of life. The raise of Indian middle class is a standing example for empowerment.

Economists (Especially ‘swaminomics’) are predicting that economic empowerment will result in betterment. Of course the betterment cannot be achieved in a near future and it will take at last another two to three hundred years. In the mean time it is important that we march towards the future with confidence, pride and patriotism. In these lines one of my senior Alumni Mr. P.R.Iyer wrote an article and sent it to me. After taking his permission I am publishing it below.

As we march into the next decade, we notice that some people due to their, birth, education, culture, race, color creed, religion or other factors grow rich faster than others. But that is how it is, in all walks of life; any artificial attempt to normalize this inequality is fraught with more complex problems. We notice that in our enthusiasm to undo the imbalance we create more knotty problems than we have attempted to solve. What has communism achieved in the last century; it only created another set of well to do folks who exploited the poor. Which communist state has succeeded in eradicating poverty? Mohammed Yunus method of rendering credit facility to the women is a remarkable way of helping the down trodden; while preserving their self respect. If you dole out freebees or you start donating largesse , or you provide artificial quotas you are bound to fail .As somebody said, it is better to teach a fellow to fish than to give him fish to eat

Buddhist economy about which Schumacher(pronounced Shoemaker) talks is mainly to ensure a balance between the extreme ideologies .A rich buyer and a poor seller in a market place continue trade in a situation of bias. Conversely a rich seller and a poor buyer are also in trade to make the imbalance. As the hypothetically equipoise trade where the buyer and the seller are equal on the scales is impossible, the correct method should be to ensure that no body wastes the resources of this planet earth, be it the rich or the poor. On the contrary, they should during their lifetime do such acts that will generate renewable sources of energy .Stop this wild race for swallowing fossil fuel. Mass production is to be supplemented by production by masses wherever the geographical terrain, culture, education, intelligence levels are not conducive to production these should be abandoned. There is no point in producing biscuits in Calcutta and Bombay and transporting to both the cities by wasteful exercise of fuel consumption In stead the region of Bombay should export only such products as are not made in the region of Calcutta and vice-versa The folks of one region should remain contended with the produce within their near about.

Migration of labour to cities should cease. Man gets happiness when he produces goods with his hands or brains. This joy should not be denied by making his job mechanical. Women have a very special place in our society their skills are not inferior to those of man. But the little imbalance that nature has made by way of reproductive capacity cannot be wished away. Girls top in the school leaving exam year after year, women entrepreneurs show great skills. Woman PM of India was more daring than her male counterparts all these, at the cost of neglect of the family. A woman has to be mother first and all other accolades are only to sub serve the first .

In a society where most women go to work one is bound to observe a fall in value system consequent to neglect of the home. A small percentage of women supporting a male workforce is fine ; but if half the women folk leave their primary duty of talking care of children IN THEIR FORMATIVE YEARS or fail to instill a sense of culture , a society will grow which cannot fall back on good values. Already the Scandinavian countries are facing a heterogeneous family system devoid of supportive factors for the old and the infirm, The state can fill this gap at huge cost .Indian way of looking and tending the old has great strength in family .Let us not lose this advantage for a few DOLLARS more

A society is judged by its culture; and not by its consumptive capacity. The very idea of listing names of countries on the basis of consumption of electricity, which the World Bank looks absurd. How can consumption be a yardstick Production can be? What Yunus does is to make the village folks generate goods and services employing their skills with least damage to environment and society therefore he gets Nobel Prize; a well deserved one.

Schumacher’s book talks of this; Buddhist economy is akin to Gandhi or Vinoba Bhave’s ideas. In order that man becomes divine there should be opportunity to all; going to work place should be easy, enjoying work, taking pride on one’s creation leads to respect and self esteem.

P.R.IYER

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