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The Indian Way Sumangalam A New Paradigm of Development

Updated: January 21, 2012 2:44 pm

The concept of development has remained a widely debated subject during the last one hundred years. During this period, various forms and formats of growth models have been adopted both in capitalistic and socialistic countries of the world. All of them can be clubbed under single head—“western development model”.

  1. Western Development Model and Its Inconsistencies

The basic assumptions and strategies of this western development model are in itself partial, defective and problem creating.

The western model defines development as the increase in real per capita GDP. But the measurement for GDP is itself incomplete, and flawed. The increase in the standard of living by consuming more-and-more goods and services is assumed as the aim of life. It is artha-and-kama centred approach and as a result of this approach today the entire world has become the victim of consumerism. Further, this model emphasises the increase in production to satisfy the ever-increasing desire and lust for consumption. To increase production two course of actions are adopted: a) maximum exploitation of natural resources, and b) establishment of large industrial production structure based on machine-driven and energy-connsuming technology. This has brought about problems of unemployment and energy crisis. In this model, capital-investment is taken as the main motivating factor for development and socio-cultural-human factors are assumed as constants. This has pushed many countries to the debt- trap.

In their lust for development, the countries taking to the western model have not only created dangerous situations for their own existence but also endangered the entire mankind. The environment around us gets more-and-more polluted due to air, water and soil pollution. Not only this, even human relations, sentiments and sensitivities are also being debased. By any parameter it cannot be called the development that gives peace and happiness to the human being. Hence, it is now high time to go beyond the western development model and try to develop our own model based on Bharatiya values of life.

  1. Dharma-guided Human-Centred Holistic Mangal Dvelopment Approach or the concept of Sumangalam

The concept of “Sumangalam” can be defined in these words—“Sumangalam” means a sustainable, nourishing, well-cultured, egalitarian, integral, balanced and all-round development, by awakening the country’s will and ability to work, primarily with the help of indigenous efforts, capabilities resource-endowments and skills in the light of its eternal values of life and in the context of its expectations, aspirations, needs, nature and socio-economic conditions with a view to raising the standard of life and gross-social happiness.

The word mangal is widely used in our literature and behaviour pattern of the society.

The Main Features of the concept of Sumangalam

  1. Contrary to fragmented, mechanistic, reductionistic worldview, Sumangalam acknowledges an integral-holistic worldview.
  2. Western approach is based on the concept of ‘economic man’ whose decisions are based entirely on the calculations of gain and loss, in terms of materialistic wealth. But the Bharatiya approach completely rejects it and introduces the concept of ‘integral man’ as a combination of body, mind, intellect and soul (shareera, mana, buddhi and aatma), According to it, everyman is the embodiment of what is known as ‘Brahma’. Thus, in Bharatiya approach man is more than an economic being. Economic problems have their legitimacy but not supremacy.
  3. Bharatiya looks upon nature as his/her mother or a deity. This approach stresses co-existence, harmony and cordiality with nature.
  4. In the Indian tradition of thought dharma, artha, kama and moksha have been considered four principal aims (i.e. purusartha chatustaya) of life. According to it, all the activities related to earning and consumption should be conducted on the basis of dharma in such way so that it would lead to moksha. Therefore, the mangal development will try to establish dharma or morality-based economic structure. Recently, many modern experts have also begun to calling for a new value-based approach to development.

Mangal development model recognises the greater role of socio-cultural and human factors in the process of development. Till date, we assume them as constants while framing growth models. Now, it is high time to amend this approach.

Long-term objectives

Groos Social Happiness (GSH) will be the central direction for the “Sumangalam” model. Happiness is a very broad concept related to body, mind, intellect and soul and it cannot be expressed merely in terms of economic utilities. On the background of Gross Social Happiness, efforts will be made to achieve the following four main socio-economic objectives: i) Food for all and guarantee for the fulfilment of basic requirements of life. ii) Health for all preventive and curative health streams. Holistic health system for physical, mental and emotional health. iii) Education for all and equal opportunity for all to provide socially useful and sanskaarksham education. iv) Employment for all. It requires employment-led growth strategy in place of growth-led employment strategy.

A Mangal Draft for Socio-Techniquo-Economic Structure

A broad framework for an appropriate socio-economic structure required to achieve the goals of Sumangalam is discussed below:

  1. Environment-friendly technology having a human face:- Technology is a powerful thing. The way we produce and consume things influences our social relations, thinking and feeling. But the question is what kind of technology we want to use. Should we go for western technology? In this regard, even the enlightened western thinkers are now realising the evil consequences and disastrous effects of western technology. The present-day technology is disrupting organic relationships, spreading poison, rapidly depleting the earth’s non-renewable stock of scarce mineral resources, degrading moral and intellectual qualities of man and breeding violence against nature and violence against one’s own fellowmen.

In order to develop a suitable and appropriate technology, India should concentrate its efforts on two directions-

  1. i) Making improvements in our existing traditional technologies: This area possesses a large potential for India’s future development.

  1. ii) Adapting modern technologies to our requirements and resources: Direct technology transfer is a dangerous process. Technology has to be so adapted that it will uphold and not undermine our cherished values.

  1. Decentralised self-reliant economic structure:- Sumangalam believes that the real alternative to the Capitalist and Communist patterns is a decentralised and self-reliant economy operated and controlled by the people under the guidance of dharma. But this decentralised economy should be made more productive than it has been in the past.

Thus, there is a need for rebuilding India’s shattered economy and polity on the solid foundation of India’s villages, rejuvenated and re-organised into self-governing units of ten to fifteen villages.

  1. Reframing the relationship between different sectors:- Mangal approach believes in the complementarity and interrelationship between agricultural and industrial sectors of the economy. But it defines this relationship in its own way which is radically different from the existing pattern.

  1. Restrained and ethical consumption pattern :- The consumerist and ostentatious lifestyle, that we are steadily adopting today, is not sustainable in the long term, both from environmental and social perspectives. It is now being increasingly admitted that the main reason behind the developmental problems and crisis is the defective consumption pattern and lifestyle. Therefore, in order to overcome the crisis there is a need to develop a more-restrained and ethical consumption-pattern and lifestyle by making appropriate changes in our values of life and standards of social behaviour.
  2. God’s ownership and distributive justice:- In a capitalistic country where individual ownership over the means of production and property is accepted, people have to suffer due to conflicts, exploitation and inequalities. On the other hand, if we completely negate the individual’s ownership and accept the absolute ownership of the state, according to communistic system the question of incentive and initiative raises its ugly head. To solve this problem Indian sages, on the basis of the concept of all-pervading Brahma, have stressed the need to accept the ownership of God over all the means of production. This notion of God’s ownership is based on two principles: the trusteeship principle, and the principle of sacrifice.

Accepting this concept every individual can be inspired to produce to his optimum capacity, considering his work as a work of God and infusing into him a firm faith in God. Simultaneously, he may be prepared to take the minimum share only to satisfy his basic needs from the common pool and leave the rest for the use of the society.

A Hindu is expected to look upon every human being as his brother or sister, nay, as himself, and upon humanity as his family. Our philosophy of life does not preach only to care for one’s own bread and butter and to be confined to one’s own comforts, but advocates happiness and welfare for all. That is why, an Indian says in his prayer:

“Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, Sarve santu niraamayaah”

[May all be happy: May all be healthy: May all obtain the good things; Let not a single individual be cursed with misery.]

  1. The family in India is a multi-dimensional institution; hence it should be revived and strengthened. A sense of collective responsibility and sharing each other’s grief and happiness is its cornerstone. Therefore, the atmosphere of the family should foster the growth of cultural and social values. In western countries about 30 to 40 per cent of their GDP is spent on social security measures by the government. In India, this social security has been taken care of in a much better way through the institution of family.

  1. Mangal approach does not visualise government-dependent or market-dependent economy. It believes in establishing a people-dependent economy or development through people’s participation. Government will co-operate with people’s movement. Hence, there is an urgent need to organise voluntary organisations comprising scientists, technologists, administrators, social scientists, social workers, rich philanthropists, primary and secondary producers from rural and urban areas. Thus, we want to establish a people-oriented socio-economic order.

Lastly, I would like to emphasise that if we wish to rebuild our society according to “Sumangalam”, two things are required: one is the self-confidence and strong will to progress, and second is the moral leadership committed to national interest.

To sum up, we can say that in mangal develoment we will set up such a structure in which there will be a balance between ethics, economy, ecology, energy and employment. This will give rise to a new kind of socio-economic structure which will be based on nourishing economic structure, sustainable technology, and well cultured social set-up (Sanskaarksham Samaajtantra).

By Dr Bajrang Lal Gupta

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