– Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya
It must be realised that the object of our economic system should not be to make extravagant use but a well-regulated use of available resources. The physical objects necessary for a purposeful, happy and progressive life must be obtained
The Editor of Organiser, an English Weekly, had gone to the U.S.A. for a visit sometime ago. Upon his return, he related an interesting instance. There is a factory which produces “Potato-peelers”, a device for peeling potatoes. The production of this factory outstripped the demand for the device. The management of the firm faced the problem of finding some way by which people might be induced to buy more potato-peelers. They called a meeting of all the sales men of the firm. Among the suggestions put forward, one was to make the colour of the handle similar to that of potato peel, so that along with the peel, the peeler may also be dumped in the garbage, often by mistake. Thus, there may be greater demand. Also, the product was offered in a more attractive packing.
Do not Ignore Limitations of Nature
Now this economic structure is not merely consumption oriented, but is clearly leading to destruction. Throw away the old one, and buy a new one! Rather than satisfying the need and demand of the people, to create fresh demand has become the aim of modern economics.
Taking Liberties with Nature
Supposing that we need not worry about the limited supply of natural resources, there is yet the question of balance in nature. There is a cyclic relationship in different parts of nature. If one of the three sticks, which stand with mutual support, is removed, the other two will automatically fall. The present economic system and system of production are fast disturbing this equilibrium of nature. As a result, on the one hand, new products are manufactured for satisfying ever increasing desires, and on the other hand, new problems arise every day, threatening the very existence of humanity and civilisation.
It is essential, therefore, to use up that portion of the available natural resources which nature itself will be able to recoup easily. When the fruits are taken, the fruit tree is injured: it may even be helpful to the tree. However, in the effort to take a greater harvest from the land, chemical fertilisers are used, which in a few years’ time, will render the land altogether infertile. Lakhs of acres of land lie barren in America due to this factor. How long can this dance of destruction go on?
The industrialist provides for a depreciation fund to replace machines when they are worn out. Then how can we neglect the depreciation fund for nature? From this point of view, it must be realised that the object of our economic system should not be to make extravagant use but a well-regulated use of available resources. The physical objects necessary for a purposeful, happy and progressive life must be obtained. The Almighty has provided that much. It will not be wise, however, to engage in a blind rat-race of consumption and production as if man is created for the sole purpose of consumption. Engine needs coal for its proper working, but it has not been produced merely to consume coal. On the contrary, it is only proper, always, to see that with the minimum coal consumption, maximum energy is produced. This is the economic viewpoint. Keeping in view the aim of human life, we must endeavour to see how, with the minimum of fuel, man proceeds to his goal with the maximum speed. Such a system alone can be called civilisation. This system will not think of merely a single aspect of human life, but of all its aspects, including the ultimate aim. This system will be constructive rather than destructive. This system will not thrive on the exploitation of nature, but will sustain nature, and will in turn itself be nourished. Milking, rather than exploitation, should be our aim. The system should be such that overflow from nature is used to sustain our lives.
Destructive Economic Slogans of the West
If such a human objective inspires the economic system, then our thinking on the economic questions will undergo thorough transformation. In the Western economies, whether it is capitalist or socialist, Value’ has the most important and central position. All economic theories centre around ‘Value’. It may be that the analysis of ‘Value’ is very important from the point of view of the economist, but those social philosophies which are based entirely on ‘Value’ are far more incomplete, inhuman and to some extent unethical.
Take for example, the slogan commonly heard nowadays, “One must earn his bread”. Normally communists use this slogan, but even the capitalists are not fundamentally in disagreement with it. If there is any difference between them, it is only as regards who earns and how much. The capitalists consider capital and enterprise as important components of production, and hence if they take a major share of profits, they think it is their due. On the other hand, communists believe only labour to be the main factor in production. Therefore, they concede major share of production to the labourers. Neither of these ideas is correct.
The right to food is a birthright. The ability to earn is a result of education and training. In a society, even those who do not earn must have food
Really speaking, our slogan should be that the one who earns will feed, and every person will have enough to eat. The right to food is a birthright. The ability to earn is a result of education and training. In a society, even those who do not earn must have food. The children and the old, the diseased and the invalids, all must be cared for by society. Every society generally fulfils this responsibility. The social and cultural progress of mankind lies in its readiness to fulfil this responsibility. The economic system must provide for this responsibility. The economic system must provide for this task. Economics as a science does not account for this responsibility. A man works.
Not for bread alone, but also to shoulder this responsibili Otherwise, those who have had their meals would no lon work.
Minimum Standard of Life
Any economic system must provide for the minimum basic necessities of human life to everyone. Food, clothing and shelter constitute, broadly speaking, these basic necessities. Similarly, society must enable the individual to carry out his obligations to society by educating him properly. Lastly, in the event of an individual falling prey to any disease, society must arrange for his treatment and maintenance. If a government provides these minimum requirements, then only it is a rule of Dharma. Otherwise, it is a rule of adharma. Describing King Dilip, Kalidas had said in Raghuvansha, “Being responsible for the maintenance, protection and education of his subjects, he was their true father. Others were merely instrumental in giving them their birth”. The description of King Bharat after whom our country has been named Bharat, also runs similarly, i.e. “By maintaining and protecting his subjects, he was called Bharat”. This is his country, Bharat. If in this country, maintenance and protection are not guaranteed, then the name Bharat is meaningless.
To be continued…
Speech delivered by Pt. Deendyal Upadhyaya on 25 April, 1965 in Mumbai
(Source- Integral Humanism-
An Analysis of Some Basic Elements)