What the RSS Sarsanghchalak presented on the occasion, with brevity that is his hallmark, is the essence of the years of work done to concretise the idea of Integral Humanism and development that is integral that takes care of not just material needs but also the spiritual needs of human beings and all other living beings on this Earth
I was part of panels on two financial channels that discussed and debated Shri Mohan Bhagwat"s speech in BSE, Mumbai on the occasion of the release of a book on Economic History of India since ancient times. The book being on economics, the speech had to be on economics. It was but natural for economists to sit up and discuss his lecture and for popular media to debate it. It is a great departure from earlier days of brushing away of any RSS views from public discourse.
Those who know RSS or study RSS are aware that RSS has been talking of an alternative economic model based on Indian genius and experience as both Communism and Capitalism have failed to solve the problems of the society in a holistic manner since 1960s. Based on Shri Guruji’s directions, Shri Deendayal Upadhyay studied the historical economic systems of India (like Arth Shastra), various ‘isms’ and came up with the philosophy of Integral Humanism. In Hindi it is Ekatma Manav Darshan (not ‘ism’ or ‘vaad’) In English to the nomenclature of Integral Humanism remains prevalent. Later this theory was expanded and studied further by brilliant pracharak, a great theoretician, founder of the biggest trade union movement Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Shri Dattopant Thengdi. He called it the Third Way. He predicted the downfall of Communism in the 1970s when people were still dazzled by it. This Third Way was further expounded by an ex-Marxist, turned Hindu economist Shri M G Bokare. There have been many other intellectuals like Dr Mahesh Sharma, Dr Ashok Modakwho have worked on the theory. Then, there was Nanaji Deshmukh, pracharak and Jan Sangh leader, who worked hard to create a model of Integral Humanism on the field at Chitrakoot.
What the RSS Sarsanghchalak presented on the occasion, with brevity that is his hallmark, is the essence of the years of work done to concretise the idea of Integral Humanism and development that is integral that takes care of not just material needs but also the spiritual needs of human beings and all other living beings on this Earth. While giving an overall idea of the direction in which political economies should move, he opened the lecture by saying, “I cannot speak on policies as they are created as per requirements of the society at that point of time in history. Policies cannot be frozen, nor can we be tied down to any ‘ism’ as it blocks the independent thinking.”
Sarsanghchalak"s 40-minute speech in 20 points
- Policies are dictated by the requirements of a society or nation at a particular time and they need to be dynamic
- We should not box ourselves into any ‘ism’ as it curtails our independent thinking. We must think beyond ‘isms’
- Economic policies need to be tested on simple thumb rule – that its benefits should reach the last person in the queue
- There are many wants but limited means; Or to put it differently, Earth has enough for our needs but not our greed. We need to temper our consumption and not waste our resources
- Produce quality products, there will be enough demand for them, but don’t produce and then advertise to make people consume the product
- Arth and Kaam are part of our four purusharthas as per our ancient Indian philosophy of Arth, Kaam, Dharma, Moksha. We are not just spiritual people. Hindu dharma never said so. We should perform all the four purusharthas. Some people have only hunger for spirituality, they can directly move to dharma and moksha
- Arth and Kaam must be enjoyed but within the boundaries of Dharma with the moral code of conduct that doesn’t corrupt
- Four Ashramas of Brahmcharya, Grihasthi, Vanprasth and Sanyas indicate the same holistic approach to life
- Our culture doesn’t talk of Individual vs Society, Environment vs Development or Agriculture vs Industry as opposites but strives for synthesising various aspects and hormonise them. It is this and that, not this or that. We cannot have growth of Industry at the cost of Agriculture just as we cannot have growth of large corporates at the cost of MSME
- MSME is the major employment generator; big industries should work with MSME as their complimentary forces not as opposing forces. Employment generation should be our prime aim as we are a populous country
- Agriculture should be holistically developed
- There should be integral view and policy-making from social, political and economic viewpoints
- When we think of development, the economy is not the only thing, we must also take care of education and security
- Decentralisation is a way to grow. Centralisation is not good for the country and economy
- Take the best of ideas from the world, adapt them to our own social and economic ethos. People debate that China is not Communist anymore, it is Capitalist now. What matters to its citizens is, it tailored the policies as per its requirements
- GDP may not be a good overall indicator of economic well being, so different countries are trying their own indicators to measure their growth and development success
- When everybody around you is happy only then you can live in peace and prosper. To have this happiness and growth, you need security.Similarly for India to grow as a happy country, we should be secure and people around us should also be happy. Happiness is combination of Security, Prosperity and Growth
- Happiness is not just material wealth as west believes, it comes from inside. We should nurture this sense of satisfaction and living within our means
- While west talks of survival of the fittest, we say upliftment of all, not some.We say a person should not just earn but work as a trustee of wealth, and distribute wealth to the society. Live for others
- We can be less cash economy but not cashless economy as many people in India simply cannot transact cashless. They use cash
He said, “We should have debates and discussions on various policies. While suggesting discussions and debates, he pointed out that. Please read and study more. Take what you found good in what I spoke and discard what you didn’t like."
Some critics worried whether RSS chief brought ideas from 19 th Century talking of controlling consumption. They forget that idea of sustainable consumption, the environment is the new economics; what they learnt about producing and creating demand is an old wasteful economic model. For example, an ex-film producer Mansoor Khan ( of Jo Jeeta who Sikandar fame) has done more than a decade of study to come up with a book ‘The Third Wave’ where he proves that the way world defined growth and consumption is no more viable and limiting consumption and working on lower expectations is a must. Resources are finite.
Giving an example of how government should work, Shri Bhagwat questioned whether Air India was poor or was its management poor. If management is poor, give it to professionals who can run it well. But, no country bargains away its skies, it should be handed over for management to Indian companies, not foreign companies. He also reminded that the assets of Air India include its routes, its airports, its slots in airports, hangars etc.
Many editors and anchors got stuck with only the issue of Air India and claimed that RSS and BJP had differing views on the economy. They forgot that many nations don’t sell their national career and give control of airspace to foreign-owned airlines. It is not an outdated notion. We also know that Air India was exploited and sponged off by ministers of UPA government and before them, it was one of the rare airline making good profits when overseas airlines were making losses. Its most strategic revenue making assets –its profitable routes were ‘gifted away’ to foreign airlines, it was used as a personal fiefdom or jagir by successive ministers. So, it has nothing to do with economic policies or differences between BJP and RSS.
On all other economic fronts, like any public body that too such a large organisation, has every right to express its opinion and let the government of the day know what people on the ground are feeling about different policies.
Most importantly, I see no major differences in what BJP government is doing on the economic front and what RSS views are on the economic front.
Decentralisation the keystone of economic planning is being pushed hard by this government. Supporting farmers not only in actual farming but also buffering them from seasonal highs and lows by working on supply chain and creating food processing business opportunities; and dismantling stifling agriculture selling policies, reforming politician controlled Mandi system are some of the policies this government is implementing. The most important is a practical and much better Kisan BimaYojana that would cover him against most possible disasters as compared to previous policies.
Most important point of Indian economic policy is whether the benefits reach the last man in the queue. I think, on this Modi government has scored big. All the policies are directed towards the most deprived and suffering sections of the society. Beginning from SwachhaBharat, that can bring huge indirect benefits in health, this policy helped women reclaim dignity and get away from harassment they faced every day. This government has introduced revolutionary Health Insurance, Life insurance for poor at lowest possible rates. Gas in every poors’ home, electricity in far-flung areas that lived without power even after 70 years of independence, Jan Dhan Yojana, Direct transfer to beneficiary accounts and host of other policies have been directed towards poor and deprived sections of the society.Efforts to clean up the economy and make it more transparent with GST, demonetisation and strict action against the corrupt has given renewed velocity to the economy and results are showing.
Both RSS and BJP have been inspired by holistic, integral approach of Hindu way of life. There can be the difference in approach to policies as one organisation is working in the society while the other party is running a government. As RSS chief said, policies depend on the situation prevailing at a time, so BJP government has to implement its policies based on government’s limitations, while RSS can only speak of broad contours and directions.
So, leaving aside the media perceived differences in RSS and BJP in economic policies, I think it is a big change that the nation today wants to know what RSS thinks on various issues, including economy. It has helped correct the prevailing but wrong impression of the people that RSS has no economic thoughts or that RSS lives in the past. Its view that India should have its own model of economic development and growth, not copy other models, is slowly gaining acceptance.