The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism
The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism
Dr. Javed Jamil
In the Name of God, Kind-Merciful
The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism
Author: Dr. Javed Jamil
Copyright: Mission Publications
All Right Reserved
(The views expressed in the book are the author’s own and the facts as reported by him, which have been verified to the extent possible, and the Publishers are not in any way liable for them.)
First print: 1999; second print: 2016
Address for correspondence:
284, A Pocket, Sarita Vihar,
New Delhi-76, India
To Begin With
The Devil Emerges
Turning State into Estate
Good Bye Religion!
Society given New Attire
Education Relocated on the Wall Street
Sciences Turned into Mistresses
Tree of Economics Monopolised
The Globe Colonized
The Way Out
It [_ was a wonderful Garden raised above from the land—lush green, spreading and fructiferous. The environment was pure; pollution was conspicuous by its absence. Flowers, trees, stems, buds, leaves and fruits -- all were living merrily. The harmony was absolute all around. The flowers never withered there; their purifying fragrance rode the prancing wind with the grace of a knight. The leaves incessantly danced to the whistling of the wind. The grass spread like a carpet to welcome one and all. Peace was ubiquitous embracing the whole of the Garden without a semblance of partisanship. Among its residents were also Adam and Eve whose innocent love knew no bounds. They enjoyed every bit of their life together. Together they roamed in the Garden, together they ate and drank, and together they rested under the long dark shadows of trees. The whole of the Garden had been summoned to fulfil their wishes. With the exception of one Tree that they were not permitted to approach. They believed that the peace of the Garden would be eternal for them. But it was destined not to be. From somewhere in the darkness of the bushes, the Devil surfaced. Jealous of the harmonious creation of God and envious of man, whom He had chosen as His viceroy in preference to the Devil, he planned a mischief. He whispered to Adam and Eve that the Prohibited Tree was forbidden for no great purpose; if they touched it, the bliss they were living in would become eternal and they would lord over the Garden forever. Innocent and ingenuous as they were, not mindful of the art of treachery, ingeniousness and deception that the Devil mastered, they took him at his word. The result was what the Devil anticipated. And as soon as they trespassed, their anatomy became public. The Devil had perhaps also hoped they would be ecstatic at this display of their hidden treasures. And this would help him to preside over the devastation of the harmony that the Garden boasted of. He dreamt of victory over God. But God would not let the Garden be dismantled. Adam and Eve soon realised their folly in succumbing to the temptation. Instead of following the course the Devil had chosen for them, they sought forgiveness from their Lord and pleaded Him to guide them to the Divine Course. God saved them from total disgrace but asked them to prove their credentials as His true servants once again in a new environment. This time they would not have the privilege of entering a Garden readied for their welcome but would have to cultivate one through their own efforts. God promised them all kinds of assistance but also sounded a caveat. He warned them in categorical terms that the Devil would leave no stone unturned in surfacing again in a big way to challenge them. Adam and Eve started the work and those that followed their footsteps continued to laboriously cultivate the garden. Despite many of their fellow beings acquiescing to the dictates of the Devil, they sustained their efforts. A garden was ready again. Nice and beautiful. But not as wonderful as the first one was. Its flowers had hardly begun to spread their fragrance that the Devil resurfaced. He chose the lascivious among the inmates as his viceroys just as the God had chosen Adam and other Prophets. He used their brains to show others the dreams of a garden that would be far more luxurious, attractive and blissful than what it was at that moment. And this time the Devil seems to have hit the jackpot. He has succeeded in dismantling the garden in a unique way. The uniqueness about his success is that the inner destruction of the garden has been enveloped in a superficial prosperity. Superficial beauty is for everyone to see but only a few has the eyes to see what lies in. This advent of the Devil has been in the form of what I call ‘economic fundamentalism’. _]
During the last few decades, “fundamentalism” has perhaps been one of the most frequently used terms in the world media, having been generally used in relation to religion usually referred to as religious fundamentalism. The term seems to have been first used in 1920s in the US to describe the ideological proclivities of a group of churches that claimed to defend the premises of orthodox Christianity. Interestingly, the opposing groups were referred to as liberals or modernists. The modernists severely criticised the church for wrapping itself in an outworn theology and ignoring modern developments. The roots of Christian fundamentalism are to be found in the Millennium Movement of 1830s when the Christians of the United States had grown in excitement over the expectation of reappearance of Jesus Christ. They believed that the Second Advent of Christ would be the beginning of one thousand years of total peace. Then in 1950s, the term “modern fundamentalism” came into usage in relation to the anti-Communist movement.
In the recent past, “religious fundamentalism” has been used by West for Islamic revivalists in West Asia who have been engaged in popular campaigns against Western influences in the region. Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, Yasser Arafat of Palestine, Col. Ghaddafi of Libya, Gen. Zia of Pakistan, Taliban in Afghanistan, the Islamic political parties in Algeria and Turkey, the pro-Islamic elements in Egypt – all have been spurned time and again as ‘Islamic fundamentalists.’ In India, it has been used to describe all those movements and campaigns that have been inspired by religious beliefs or communal sentiments. These include “Sikh Extremists” and “Hindutva Brigade”.
In terms of purely literal connotations, “fundamentalism” denotes nothing more than strict adherence to and endeavours to propagate, often by undesirable means, a specific set of ideas; those who follow the ideology are called “fundamentalists”. It follows that it would be uniquely unfair to limit this term to the ‘fundamentalism’ in the field of religion. Fundamentalism can be found without any difficulty in several other fields, especially politics and economics. The politicians who pursue their political aims through fair or unfair and moral or immoral means, and tend to misuse every single opportunity for their own elevation, irrespective of the adverse effects of their actions on others, may be called political fundamentalists. Needless to say that political fundamentalism pervades the current world. Similarly, the persons or organisations with the solitary aim to garner economic benefits by adopting all fair and unfair means may be called ‘economic fundamentalists’ and their ideology ‘Economic fundamentalism’.
Wealth has a central position in economics. But economic fundamentalism tends to regard it as the most, not just one of the most essential requirements of life. The business community has throughout the world and for ages always cared little for anything but its own economic interests. But the businessmen of the past made only individual efforts in that direction and they had little influence over the happenings in their surroundings. They were cranes that would use their cunning eyes to capture the prey when it came close to them and not leopards that would roar their way through the forest in search of their prey. They did not have any say in political and administrative affairs; the law of the land safeguarded the interests of the common people, or the interests of rulers. During the last few centuries, especially in the wake of Industrial Revolution, businessmen have organised themselves into an aggressive, domineering, dextrous, ingenious and inexorable class. It has, wrongfully or rightfully but successfully, mastered all the new information, techniques and opportunities available to it for the protection and expansion of its interests. This is where economic fundamentalism begins to emerge. Now, unlike in the past, businessmen are no more weak and submissive. They are not the cranes any more but the leopards that want to rule and roar. They have not only learned to assert themselves but have perfected the skill to push their plans defying all the obstacles that may come in their way. Not any longer are they the bootlickers of the rulers they used to be; they have now mastered the art of manoeuvring them into submission. From the sycophants they used to be they have now positioned themselves in a way that the rulers and administrators often become their sycophants. Not any more are they the silent followers of the rule of law; they have become articulate votaries of such modifications in the political, social and the legal systems as better suit their interests. They have ceased to be introverts seeking comfort in solitude; they now socialise in a way that gives them a plateau of eminence in society and, most important of course, the economic monopoly. Still, they sacrifice moles for gaining mountains in return. It is this assertive, aggressive, cunning, provident and ruthlessly selfish approach towards economics, which breeds what I have termed Economic Fundamentalism.
Economics is surely one of the essential constituents of human life. Without money, one cannot survive. We need coins for food, drinks, clothes, house, treatment, entertainment, marriage, bringing up of children, their education; even for funeral. But the problems arise when money is assumed to be the only essential of life. Economics is the stomach that supplies food for the body. It cannot and must not become the heart and the brain. For a wholesome living, good relations among the members of family and society, proper spiritual and moral development and proper environment are also needed. Love for money is nice till it does not disturb mental, family and social peace. But as soon as it transforms into lust encroaching upon others’ spheres in terms of its impact, it becomes a curse. When the lust for making money becomes organised, its effects on society are bound to be devastating. And when this organisation turns global using highly advanced information and technology available to it, mankind faces imminent ruin.
It can be seen that economic fundamentalism is becoming increasingly aggressive with every passing day. What has facilitated its stupendous growth is the outstanding ability of its generals to deal with the hurdles coming in their way. The truth is that they have been marching towards their ultimate destination without facing any appreciable resistance. They studied and recognised all the possible sources of obstruction well in advance, and prepared a meticulous plan to thwart them. All the possible weapons were and are being employed for this purpose: persuasion, advertising, misinformation, defamation, bribing, manoeuvring and use of power. The ballistic missiles of their money-power have proved to be too destructive for the resistant elements to withstand. Through persuasion or threats, they are either overpowered or purchased. The opposing forces have failed owing not only to the lack of resources but also to the glaring deficiency of will and spirit. What has further paralysed them is innumerable divisions in their ranks, based on religion, region, race, ideology and language. The economic fundamentalists have used this lassitude to gain on them; they are now, virtually, the rulers of the world. Their trumpet blows everywhere — from the north to the south and from the west to the east. There is little evidence in sight to foretell that their dominion will shrink to any remarkable extent in the foreseeable future. Whatever few areas or fields have till now remained beyond their reach, will soon be ransacked by their visible or invisible forces. How long they will be able to retain their hold, only time will tell. But presently, no signs of the emergence of a messiah or mahdi are visible.
In short, from historical standards, the rise and growth of economic fundamentalism has been quite rapid taking hardly a few centuries. The think-tank of the world of economic fundamentalism has taken innumerable steps to strengthen their hold. They have sacrificed the goddess of justice before the eyes of the Statue of Liberty. They have transformed through political manoeuvres the state into their estate. They have incessantly and relentlessly been trying to organise a grand farewell for religion. They have captivated the people’s imagination through the media. They have got the attire of society redesigned so that it looks gorgeous and inviting to their eyes. They have industrialised sex, in which they have discovered the hen which always lays golden eggs. They have relocated the entire educational set-up on the Wall Street. They have monopolised the tree of economy. Its fruits and shadows are only theirs; others can only admire its beauty from a safe distance. They have taken science and technology as their mistresses, ever keen to offer their glorious best to them. They have nipped all the challenges in the buds by masterminding the popular movements. They have lynched the ‘civilisation’, which has been given a new incarnation; and now Bohemians are called civilised. Last but not the least, they have been busy colonising the good earth in the name of globalisation.
This does not mean however that whatever the economic fundamentalists sought to do or undo was all misplaced. Nor does it mean that the economic fundamentalists are solely responsible for all the wrongs perpetrated on the mankind. What is true nevertheless is that they have always striven to support the ideas and movements which would become uranium for their commercial nukes. Sometimes, they would themselves spearhead a particular campaign. More often, they would financially back such activities as suited their strategies. At other times, consequent on the popularisation of certain ideas or customs, they would make overt or covert efforts to contain, dilute or minimise the damages to their interests. Many a time they might have pursued or backed a good cause; but they have invariably been selective in their support, calculating its positive or negative impact on their business prospects. It is this preferential and partisan attitude which has to be denounced and renounced if the world has to be saved from the impending doom.
The widening gulf between religion and state had put economic fundamentalism on the road to progress. The big business however realised that the policies of the state were not in tune with their requirement. They felt that the monarchy, which was almost ubiquitous at that time, was not easily manoeuvrable. Kings derived their sovereignty, not from the masses but from a constitution that vested in them un-shared power in their domains. For the perpetuation of their rule, they depended on a strong military which generally remained loyal to the palace. The rich from among the masses longed for and often succeeded in becoming the minions of the members of the ruling class. Among these elite were mainly land lords and big farmers; the merchants were fewer among the favourite. Whatever relationship the business class had with the rulers or their officers, was virtually unilateral. The businessman’s objective was limited to evading their wrath. For the smooth continuance of their merchandise they were more than eager to pay to the treasury whatever taxes were imposed on them by the government. They were not in a position to influence the official policies because there was no way to effect a change of power. This could occur only if the army revolted, or an invader ransacked the kingdom, or there was a popular revolt. For uninhibited growth of business however it was essential that the policies of the government were regularly readjusted in accordance with the emerging scenario. To effect such changes at regular intervals was highly improbable unless the rulers had an open or secret alliance with the business-world. This could take place only if the kings were made or unmade with the direct or indirect assistance of the market forces. The first and foremost essential for achieving this goal was total transformation and transubstantiation of the existing political ideology into one that would endow the market with substantial and recurring opportunities to manipulate and manoeuvre, even mastermind the political administration.
The idea of democracy was not unknown to the learned. Several political theories had in the past been propounded by diverse political pundits. Plato had already suggested the formation of a city-state that envisaged equal rights for the citizens. There were also some practical evidences to support that the concept of democracy was not altogether new. One such example was the period of the four “Pious Caliphs” after the demise of Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam. The Caliphs, during their short but historically and theologically most productive period of Islam were chosen by the representatives of the people. After being elected they would sit in the public mosque for receiving biat, the expression of allegiance by the common people for the new ruler; and it was only after the acceptance by the majority of the people of the capital city and the representatives of the distantly located areas that the Caliph would ascend the throne. The people had the right to take back their allegiance and the government was run with the guidance of a Consultative Committee constituted of the most pious, learned and able representatives of the people. The political experts of the West, under the impact of the ongoing industrialisation, again felt the need to initiate a movement for the establishment of democracy which they described as” the government of the people, for the people and by the people”.
The slogan of people’s rule was indeed fascinating. It cannot be said with certainty whether the onset of the movement of democracy had direct involvement or not of the economic fundamentalists. But sooner or later, they were able to fathom the extraordinary potential in the on-rushing political developments for the growth of their ideology. A system other than the people’s government was now incomprehensible; because a government that would be periodically changed would be easily manoeuvrable. The political hierarchy would not only be far more accessible than the monarchs, it would also be in no position to ignore the interests of the business-world because the politicians required free flow of money for electioneering and other political functions. The manufacturers and traders would not mind parting with a small loaf in hope of greater returns. The movement for democracy could not have been successful if the dons of the world of business had not been kind on it.
The history soon witnessed the birth of different forms of democratic systems. Little wonder that the democracies prospered primarily in those lands where the industrialisation was in full swing. Multiple-party democracy was the obvious choice because in party-less democracy the individual leaders might have ignored the interests of the market as soon as they seized the reins of power. On the other hand, the parties had long term interests, and it was more improbable for the parties to forget the pre-election promises.
Though the avowed goal of democracy has been to fulfill the long cherished aspirations of the people, and to work for their all-round betterment, it has miserably failed in guarding itself against the damaging intrigues of the vested interests, particularly the industrialists. The power can be seized only through polls. The big business either fields its own sponsored candidates, or more often it supports a political party expected to best serve its interests. Any meaningful electioneering requires not only huge funds but also other extreme methods including the use of muscle-power facilitating the entry of criminals. Consequently, a permanent nexus has developed between politics, organised crime and industry. This is true of almost all the big democracies of the present world. The bracket has extended itself to include the bureaucracy, administration and media. Elections are regularly held and the people can exercise their right to franchise. But the issues on which the elections are contested are usually such as suit the game-plan of the economic fundamentalists. The media creates and un-creates issues and the masses are beguilingly reconditioned into thinking the way the media thinks. Politics has become highly expensive and hazardous. The word “moral” has ceased to exist in the political lexicon. Anyone with semblance of conscience does not dare to venture into the political arena, which has become a playground for the rich and the criminals. The upright and educated have in fact developed repugnance for it. Not only the politicians have harmonious relations with the criminals, the criminals also have developed fascination for politic. In the absence of any strict legal criteria for candidates, the undesirable elements gain a sort of legitimacy once they enter the election fray after joining one of the parties expected to fare well. While it is quite tedious for an intellectual or social activist to convince the party stalwarts of his claim for party ticket, the wish of the criminals to become people’s representatives is expressly granted. Once they enter the Parliament or the Assemblies, they acquire a halo of respectability and esteem. Big functions are organised to shower encomia on them for their “services” to the nation. After a few years of politicking, they become veterans, and ministerial chairs are often occupied by them. The ongoing politicisation of criminals breeds criminalisation of politics, and the criminalisation of politics enhances the prospects of the economic fundamentalists.
Had democracy been properly put into practice, it might still have been a sacred blessing for the common people. It might have guaranteed them a lion’s share in power and their rightful needs and aspirations might have been truly realised. It still holds true that they can successfully overthrow any government out of power. It is therefore mandatory for a party in power to keep the masses in good humour. But in reality, the remote controls of almost all the governments anywhere in the world remain in the hands of the big business. Through media, which blossom under its auspices, it succeeds in enthralling the imaginations of the people. The disinformation campaign in the media is too effective to permit them independent thinking and judgment. Consequently, the real issues hardly surface into prominence and the minor, insignificant and frivolous matters are made to appear as big issues that do not haunt but hunt the mind of the common man. The political bigwigs, when they ascend a public rostrum to deliver speeches that usually have plenty of rhetoric; cry their hearts out for the poor and the downtrodden. But in the comforts of their ministerial offices, they minister only to their industrialist benefactors, and their beneficences are gifted back multifold through convenient adjustments in policies and rules and regulations, grants of licenses and ministerial orders for their products or services. All through their terms, the problems of the masses never bother them; but as the expiry of their term and the new elections approach, they again revert back to their favourite theme: concern for the poor. A few schemes favouring, though marginally, and often only on the paper, are announced with great media hype. If they return to power, they are back in paradise; if not, still, they have great many privileges to enjoy throughout their lives. And of course, as opposition, they have now more opportunities to stand on the rostrum and harangue about the necessity to raise the standards of life of the poor. For that to happen, the best course for the public is to bring them back in the next election. Democracy, in effect, has become “Corporatocracy”, with “the government of the corporate, run by the agents of the corporate, and for the corporate” turning out to be its true definition.
To cut it short, in economic fundamentalism can be traced the roots of what can be termed political fundamentalism, which seeks to use all the possible means -- moral or immoral, to come to or stay in the saddles of power. Communalism that so ferociously struck India in the 1980s and 1990s, and continues to sway the mass hysteria in the 2010s is in fact the product of the political and not the religious fundamentalism, which has usually been the target of opprobrium. If the religion has been misused, it is none of the religion’s fault. The political fundamentalists have not missed a single opportunity for their elevation in the power-game, and have unabashedly used whatever sentiments can serve their purpose -- religious, linguistic, casteist and other parochial sentiments. Communalism, regionalism, linguism and racism, all are products of the political fundamentalism, and nationalism, especially in its aggressive avatar when nationalistic sentiments overrule the demands of justice, is its worst form. Patriotism is a benign and natural love for one’s motherland; but nationalism is based on the concept of supremacy of one’s nation over the others, and an attempt to dominate over them. When Nationalism ascends the ladder, it gets transformed into colonialism, and gives rise to the block politics at the international level. The majority of wars and separatist movements are the outcome of nationalistic fervour, based on one of the sentiments with which the people of a particular area identify them. No wonder that the geographical boundaries and international borders continue to change at regular intervals. The obvious outcome is the periodic emergence of new, sovereign states though occasionally two or more nations may coalesce to form a bigger nation.
It is also an open question why the communal strife in India reached its zenith in the late eighties and early nineties; did the economic fundamentalists have any role to play in these developments? The possibility cannot be ruled out that, with the fall of Soviet Empire, and the emergence of globalisation, the transition in India from the closed to the open market could not have been easily achieved if the attention of the people and the politicians had not been diverted to other sentimental issues. And in India, with the ghost of Partition always ready to strike back, nothing could have been as engaging for the masses as Hindu-Muslim rivalry. Once the privatisation was on strong footing, communalism started tapering down. Even the leftist organisations, which could have become the biggest stumbling block in the economic proselytisation, had no time left out of their total involvement in the campaign against communalism to devote to what was happening at the economic front. Their historical failure to stall privatisation and globalisation of Indian market must be a subject of analysis for the social and political pundits. The economic transformation has now reached a stage that, even if the centrist and leftist parties have a rethinking, it would be a herculean task for them to stem the tide. The latest round of the communalization of politics, which began after the BJP Government of Narendra Modi came into power, seems also to be the direct effect of the second round of privatization, which has begun under this government. The media, instead of focusing on the real social and economic issues like inflation, rapidly increasing economic disparity and the increasing hegemony of the corporate class, is again busy in keeping the people engaged in debates on emotional issues.
Not only in India, Presidents and Prime Ministers of almost all the countries are normally not in any position to make any drastic change in policy against the interests of the economic lobbies of the country. The world has witnessed how American President Obama failed to change the gun policy of the country despite his huge efforts in the wake of the ever increasing incidence of mass shootings because the gun lobby would not let it happen.
The rise of nationalistic and communal movements is not always in favour of the market because if these movements continue the business may suffer due to continuous turmoil. Actually, it often happens that the interests of different industries mutually clash. The rivalry between these opposing interests has a significant bearing on the political scenario at the national or international level. While the majority of consumer industries would prefer minimisation of armed conflicts at all levels, the arms industry thrives on international disputes and recurrent wars and civil wars. The manufacturers of arms have therefore vested interests in supporting ultra-nationalist movements all over the world. They find cordial partners in political fundamentalists for the preservation of their activities. The arms industries are mostly owned by the governments. The sale of costly weapons, open or clandestine, brings huge earnings, and the governments often succeed in averting domestic financial crises. Battles here and there, and tensions over border issues, which often escalate to burst into wars, keep the arms flowing without affecting for too long the fortune of other industries.
Throughout the history, religion has played a significant role in the individual and social affairs of human beings. For most of the people that flourished in different regions of the planet earth and in different eras, faith has been a sine qua non for their existence. In spite of the fact that religion has more often than not been defiled or contaminated by the self seeking clerics, it has earnestly and relentlessly endeavoured to discipline life by erecting the ethical fence around it. It has almost been a periodical phenomenon that the prophets and sages arrived with sublime messages of highest virtues, and no sooner did they depart than their followers successively adulterated them with immoralities and indecencies. Still, it is an irrefutable truth that it is mainly owing to the strong influences on human minds and hearts wielded by religion that truth, honesty, sacrifice for others, justice and mercy have always been regarded as commendable virtues in society even if the constituent members of society have not generally put them into any remarkable degree of practice. What is indisputably commendable is that religion assisted mankind in overcoming dilemma of routine life at a time when it was not advanced enough to objectively discriminate between the right and wrong. In the midst of all-pervading gloom, the solitary torch of religion shone; whoever had the eyes to observe it, darkness made exit from his life.
The faiths which have been dominant in the world during last few millennia - Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism. Christianity, Islam and Sikhism -- all, without exception, have magnified moral values. No religion preaches falsehood, dishonesty, cheating, bribery, hatred, violence, adultery and fornication. Each of them eschews, albeit in varying degrees, this-worldliness. Jainism and Buddhism condemn this life altogether; Christianity promotes celibacy; and Islam, while permitting necessities and enjoyment of life within the prescribed limits, promotes love for other-worldliness. Religion aims at achieving mental peace and gives less importance to material gains. This principle applies to all religions, and this is what annoys the economic fundamentalists most because the promotion of materialism reigns supreme in their scheme of things. Their plan cannot succeed unless people became least entangled in moral dilemma and the love of this worldliness ravishes that of the other-worldliness. If honesty rules the roost in their life, sex outside the ambit of marriage is considered immoral and illegal, self-sacrifice lords over their hearts and minds and deceit and falsehood haunt their conscience, how would they be persuaded to “enjoy” the “comforts of life” the merchants seek to market with great fanfare.
It first happened in Europe where the business monarchs involved in rapid industrialization realised the compelling need to marginalise religion, Christianity was their obvious target. They sought to minimise its influence in the affairs of the state. It had played a vital role in the Crusades. The bishops enjoyed an unchallenged authority and respect in society, which helped them in exerting pressures on the rulers. The kings too needed a moral boost for themselves and many of them feared God. They were therefore usually reluctant to earn displeasure of the religious patriarchs. Any disturbance in their equation with them could loosen the rulers’ grip on the masses. The danger of sedition, constantly, hovered over them. But with the growing fortunes of the industrialists, the monarchs were now better placed to back a campaign for the separation of Church and Establishment, a demand that had been voiced even in the past but without much of a success. The time was now ripe to push ahead as the rulers and the industrialists could now act in tandem. The rift between this-worldliness and otherworldliness led to the emergence of the concept of secularism. Secularism as a movement began at the time of Renaissance and was aimed at directing society from other-worldliness to this-worldliness. It was presented as an ideology that exhibited the development of humanism and the growth of man’s interest in human cultural achievements. It has been in progress during the entire course of modern history and the critics have rightly viewed it as primarily anti-Christian and anti-religion. The clerics resisted the move but their efforts to stall the march of economic fundamentalism in the garb of secularism proved futile. A number of theologians in the second half of the twentieth century made a vain attempt to reconcile Christianity with the demands of the modern life by proposing Secular Christianity meaning that man should find in the secular world the opportunity to promote Christian values. Little they realised that the secular movement was in fact directed against these very values and not against the rituals of that religion. Secularism showed tremendous progress in Christian countries because Christianity did not have an elaborate code of human actions. It had to face greater resistance in Islamic states because Muslims strongly believed that Islam was not just a set of rituals but had an elaborate system for all the affairs of the world. In the process, secularism achieved the remarkable feat of “emancipating” the state from the “clutches” of religion. One European country after the other started adopting secularism. The economic fundamentalists had won a major battle.
The estrangement of Church and Establishment was only one step though extremely crucial towards the goal the economic fundamentalist had set for themselves. They envisaged complete marginalisation of religion and the morality it stood for in the social lives of men and women. They knew it well that even if the state was persuaded to adopt an irreligious approach in socioeconomic matters, the ultimate success lay in the generation of demands for the industrial products. To multiply demands materialism was required to be glorified; and for the rise of materialism religion was the greatest obstacle. This realization was responsible for the sustained tirade against the clergy, and against whatever religion championed for. The problem however was that the faith lorded over the hearts and minds of the people. An outright condemnation of the oracles of religion was attended with dangerous possibilities. It could prove counterproductive as the masses might have reacted in outrage. The clergy might have issued edicts declaring these activities blasphemous and hardly any member of society had the audacity to face the charges of blasphemy or apostasy. His faith in God and scriptures was not weak enough to permit this; he could also face ostracisation. It was therefore considered strategically more expedient and less risky to campaign for privatisation of religion rather than exhibiting open contempt for it. It was argued that faith was an absolutely personal matter and men and women might engage in as many rituals as they liked; but in other arenas, particularly the social, economic and political, the involvement of religion must be shunned and those mixing the two must be condemned, and if needed, adequately punished.
As already stated, campaigns against religion were more successful in Christian countries. In Islamic countries, such movements spearheaded by the westernised elements had to face stiffer resistance, for unlike Christianity, Islam had laid down instructions even for social, economic and political spheres of life. Furthermore, Muslims have shown greater faith in their religion than the followers of other contemporary faiths. Slightest deviation from Shariah usually invited trouble. The rulers in Islamic countries, even if they might be having little piety in themselves, applied Islamic principles in the matters related to law and economics. These difficulties however would not deter the antagonists of religion. A virulent propaganda began against the family and social doctrines of the religion of Muhammed. These started producing results, at least temporarily. The masses in some Muslim countries, especially the elites, were dazed by the pompousness of the Western life. The indifference towards religion grew relatively more in those Muslim countries, which had spells of French or British rule, or where communism had enraptured the imaginations of some segments of society. The outstanding advancement of science and the secular apparel the scientific education was provided with promoted an atheistic temperament. A tiny section of the Muslim intelligentsia started believing that God was nonexistent, and there was no role of religion whatsoever in the modern world. The high voltage propaganda by the traducers of Islam gained some successes in creating confusion in the minds of the educated Muslims about the adequacy of Islamic principles for growth and development. Whoever harangued in favour of the religion was labelled obscurantist, retrogressive or retrograde; whoever, advocated allegiance to the Islamic way of life was mocked, derided or ridiculed as fundamentalist or extremist, The anti-religion fervour of the westernist and leftist elements grew in intensity owing to the fact that the traditional scholars of Islam proved unequal to the task of defending the faith by presenting it in a jargon not understood by the modern man; they usually stuck to the interpretation of Qur’an and Sunnah by a handful of jurists which often deviated from the original spirit of the sources, and also because they explained them only in accordance with the knowledge the contemporary world possessed about the facts of life.
The growth of Secularism in India was on a different pedestal altogether. Unlike West and Islamic countries like Turkey and Egypt, it was not primarily aimed at the negation of religion. It was more a product of the plural nature of Indian society composed of several religious groups and sects many of which have considerably large population in the country. Nor secularism in India chose to deny after-life. In contrast, it developed as an ideology of the state which gives due respect to all religions but will not have any religion of its own. A secular person in India need not be anti-religion or non-religious. He may in fact be a devout practitioner of the rituals and values preached by religion. His secular credentials become disputable only when he, by speech or action, shows disregard for the other religious communities, or spreads hatred against them. Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Mohd. Ali Johar, Pt. J.B.Pant -- all these political stalwarts were, either devout Hindus, or devote Muslims and still secular to the core. The opposite of 'secular' in India has not been, as in the west, sacred but communal.
The unfortunate feature of the whole history of the decline of religion in most parts of the world, especially as a dominant social force, was that the protagonists of all the religions assumed an outright defensive posture. Their defence of religion was generally weak and ineffective as they attempted to use the same criteria as their detractors had laid down for examining the religious beliefs and practices. They often turned apologetic in their arguments. This position has shown signs of change in many Islamic countries during last few decades as an outcome of the realisation in the educated class of their folly in blindly pursuing western life styles, rejuvenated interest in Islam of Muslim experts in modern subjects and the growing dissatisfaction of the masses with the modern legal, political, economic and social systems. The modern Islamists have discovered more rationale in their religion than the emerging order. They have gradually turned the table in several Muslim countries on their opponents. The whole Islamic world is now witnessing revival of faith. Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Malaysia -- in fact, almost every Muslim country, which had at one time or the other in the last century become westernised in varying degrees, is back on the path towards the establishment of an Islamic state. Christianity, Buddhism, Hiduism and Sikhism have also displayed signs of palingenesis in specific areas. But still, most of the religionists including the Islamists tend not to be aggressive in their approach and often exhibit sectarian bias. Instead of focusing on the faults and discrepancies of the new dispensations that are numerous, they continue to dissipate their energies in erecting defences around their faiths. By the time, they defeat the mischievous propaganda unleashed against one principle or practice, the opponents supported by the economic fundamentalists open another front. The ideological war goes on unabated. But this is still being fought in the domains of religion. Religionists have forgotten that for ultimate triumph the battle-line is to be pushed into the domain of the enemy.
Though the virtues like probity, self esteem, patience, endurance and truthfulness are also unwelcome, what particularly annoys the economic fundamentalists is insistence in religion on taboos. The practices forbidden by different religions are obviously such as tend to lure, mesmerise and addict the humans. These cause temporary pleasures, which may sooner or later be followed by undesirable effects, often severe, on person, family and society. The very fact that they had to be prohibited indicated the culpability of the people for them. They rapidly transform their users or practitioners into physical or psychological dependants. Every religion has its prohibitions. Many of them are common with other religions. Christianity shuns sexual waywardness; Jainism and Buddhism forbid meat, alcohol and adultery; Hinduism and Christianity are not too sure about alcohol. In Islam, prohibitions have taken a more elaborate form, and cover all the aspects of life. Taking of alcohol, pork and blood are not allowed; and gambling, hoarding, usury, adultery, fornication, murder, theft and bribery are expressly unlawful. It can easily be seen that the habits and practices proscribed by different religions can produce serious ailments and social tensions. But the economic fundamentalists had little concern for the welfare of the individual or society. They could foresee extraordinary scope, once the outlets are open in these taboos, for their commercial aggrandisement. It would however not be easy till religion retained a central position in society. The privatisation of religion was therefore a compelling necessity for them.
The banishment of religion along with its dos and don’ts from society ensured smooth sailing in future for the big business. They were now on a robust platform to bring about rapid onset of huge transformation in social values. These changes had absolutely nothing to do with the well-being of society and were aimed only at utilising human temptations for the geometrical multiplication of wealth.
The early economic fundamentalists had several impediments and obstacles in their path towards glory. They knew that, for hosts of the activities required for the protection and promotion of large-scale business, the contemporary laws had become a liability rather than the asset. Till the beginning of the nineteenth century, the whole world had almost similar laws. Roman, Jewish, Islamic and all other legal systems that were in vogue in different parts of the earth rested on capital punishment, which was based on the principle of the right to seek revenge. The concept of eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear and soul for soul formed the foundation of almost all the constitutions. Crimes like murder and treason were unfailingly punished with death. The same punishment was often awarded to those found guilty of spreading chaos in the land. Death sentence (by beheading or hanging) was the rule rather than an exception for all serious crimes. Adultery and rapes too were punishable by death sentence. The convicts were either beheaded in full public view or were stoned to death. Lesser sexual misdemeanours invited lashes. Theft and bribery led to the chopping off of one hand from the wrist or other harsh punishments. The process of trial was incredibly quick; the cases were usually decided within a few days. The magistrate was usually helped in arriving at his decision and the pronouncement of the punishment by the jurists of the land. Appeals were entertained only in exceptional cases. The result was that the isolated crimes like murder, rape, adultery, etc., were uncommon. The victims of these crimes usually remained satisfied with the sentence meted out to the offenders. This more or less compensated for the grief and anger they were stricken with. They did not have to resort to extra-legal ways to avenge their injured sentiments. The people normally remained in peace except where the rulers flouted the law of the land themselves, or when civil wars broke out. Such examples where the rulers did not care for the life and honour of their subjects are aplenty in human history; but the instances of the rulers justly treating the ruled are also numerous.
The supremacy of the law in the land and the severity of punishment would prevent the economic fundamentalists from developing a nexus with criminals which was necessary for the rapid expansion of their empire; the acceptance by the law of certain practices like adultery, gambling and drinking as crimes would make it impossible for them to commercialise human susceptibilities for instant enjoyment. A sea-change was therefore required in the whole legal system so that it became business-friendly. Several legal theories were put forward in the eighteenth and the nineteenth century. Out of these, the ones liked by the industrialists gained currency. The fact that the development of legal system in the West has been related to the new developments in the economic field is substantiated even by the observation made by a number of legal pundits. Encyclopaedia Britanica says. “—these realisms (of Kant, Stammler, Kohler & Hagel), despite their formal or philosophical antagonism to rationalism and natural law thinking, seem to have reinforced in the age of Industrial Revolution the Individualist and libertarian trends that natural law had built up successively against medieval church and empire, the shackles of medieval social, political, and economic organisations, and, the 8th century despotism”. It was this individualist trend that was supported by Kant when he described man as a “free agent whose actions must be determined by aims of his own choice”. Sir Henry Maine of England saw “changes in substantive laws and in the machinery and modes of legal enforcement and growth as moving in pace with certain recognizable stages in social growth from the primitive, semi-organised society to the mature, complex, commercial and industrial societies of Europe”. The laws related to economic rights were modified. Kar Renner in 1929 was concerned that the legal conception of ownership, with the energy of the new economic system, alienated through the laws of property and contract into private hands the great portion of what should have been in the hands of the public. But the concern had no takers. White, in the 20th century, was frank enough to identify the approach to history as not merely the chronicles of the battles and monarchs but rather as a product of underlying economic forces. The sociological school of law continued to develop in the 20th century and it was mainly responsible for the growth of a legal system that seemed to be perfect in appearance but had in fact paralysed the justice. Someone rightly quipped that “the sociological school was like a big orchestra constantly tuning it instrument but never actually playing”.
The laws were also changed in order to take full control of the labour process. Henry Bravernan says: “That this was not understood from the beginning is attested by the fact that guild and apprenticeship rules and the legal restraints common to feudal and guild modes of productions all persisted for a period and had to be gradually stripped away as the capitalist consolidated his powers in society and demolished the judicial features of pre-capitalist social transformations. It was pretty for this reason that early manufacturing tended to gravitate to new towns which were free of guild and feudal regulations and traditions. In time however, law and custom were reshaped to reflect the predominance of the “free” contract between buyer and seller under which the capitalist gained the virtually unrestricted power to determine the technical modes of labour.”
The industrialists had already decided that the laws of punishment would have to be softened in letter and spirit as well as in application. However, a plan had to be charted so that a successful onslaught against capital punishment could be launched. The line of the arguments was contemplated in detail and the elements that would assist in that battle were short-listed. The campaign began. Capital punishment was labelled as’ inhuman unworthy of continuation in the developing world. The argument vehemently put forward was that society had no right to take the life of a human being whatever the nature and severity of his crime even if he had put to death another human being. But because there was still a forceful, often belligerent advocacy by a sizeable segment of society in favour of the continuation of death sentence, at least in the cases of murder, the argument was restructured a little: death sentence could be given but only in rare cases. These rare cases included murders that were cruel beyond tolerance. Hanging started losing popularity in one country after the other. The amazing scientific and technological achievements of the Western world and its recurring political and military triumphs had impressed the people all over the world, and they looked with positive interest for any theories that had their origin in the West. The campaign against capital punishment gained momentum. This rose to great heights in the twentieth century. The states began to amend their constitutions in order to abolish death sentence. Hanging and beheading of murderers and adulterates became rarer with the advance of time. As if ‘’rare ‘’ was not enough, it was soon converted into ‘’rarest of rare cases ‘’.
Another reason stated against death sentence was that there always remained a possibility of an innocent being sent to the gallows owing to the possibility of false evidence having been produced in the court of law or a wrong verdict given by the presiding judge. A humanist colour was given by the logic that ten murderers could be freed but one innocent could not be hanged. The seemingly compassionate argument won a great number of converts among the intellectuals with whom it had become almost a habit to reject whatever belonged to the past. The newer trends have always excited the philosophically inclined, and the capital punishment became a popular hunting ground for writers, thinkers and reformists. The movement was so astutely organised and so laboriously sustained that people developed greater sympathy for the offender rather than the offended. There were always efforts, overt or covert, to save the lives of the criminals, but nobody had tears for the amount of pain which the deceased might have been subjected to at the time of his murder. And nobody had any time for the travails of the grief-stricken family that lost its sole bread-earner or one of its heirs. None had time to think about their future; nobody had the heart to feel their sentiments and anguish. In some legal systems, like Islam, the heirs of the deceased had the satisfaction of deciding the fate of their detractors. The duty of the judge was merely to decide whether the evidence against the accused was conclusive. The judge would then pronounce the maximum permissible punishment for that crime. The heirs still had the right to refuse the appeals of mercy and let him be hanged or to pardon him in return or not of any compensation they asked for. The new legal developments either completely seized or diluted all the rights of the offended party. Instead the culprits were bestowed upon ever-increasing rights and time and space for their successful defence in the court of law.
The relative mildness of punishment coupled with progressively lengthening procedures in trial before the pronouncement of the final verdict had presumable effects. The rate of murders and other crimes began to show an upward trend. It continues unabated till now in almost all the countries that have followed the western legal system because the criminals have a remarkably reduced fear of being caught and virtually none for their being executed if their crime is established in the court. Furthermore, they have the advantage of using the latest technologies and advanced weapons which make it simpler and easier for them to pounce upon their victim without leaving a trace of evidence. If somehow suspected and charged with murder, they have multiple ways to save themselves from the gallows. They have at their disposal the services of competent lawyers who have mastered the art of subverting evidences and producing astonishing, mostly fallacious arguments. If required, they would bribe the police officers, medical experts or judges. Many of the criminals are often professionals who kill others not out of personal enmity but for their money-masters. They have therefore no dearth of money required for successful combat in the court. If ultimately convicted the most likely course of event is that they would go to the prison for a few years. During this period, their families if any will be duly looked after by the ‘masters’. As soon as they are freed, they would waste no time in rejoining the profession. This time however, they would take greater precautions and money to hit the given target.
The more the organised business gained ground, the more the criminals were produced. The procedures of trial have continued to become technically superior. But the effectiveness of judicial system in lowering the rate of crime has drastically diminished. With the overwhelming involvement of money, the legal profession has become increasingly popular. Law has now become a big industry involving trillions of dollars. Police, counsellors, courts, prisons –all these involve huge turnaround of money. The more the crimes are committed and the longer the trial prolongs the more the commercial turn over. The advocates have become pettifoggers eager to serve their clients offering them huge sums as fees rather than assist the cause of justice. The ethical code of the profession has unequivocally laid down the principle that the lawyer’s obligation is to look after the interest of his client and it is the duty of the presiding officer to arrive at the truth. The advocates have therefore in effect become the white-collared, legally recognised agents of the offenders of law. They use all possible means including their golden tongue to subvert justice. The judges have been left with no direct method to come to a reasonable and just conclusion; they have no option but to rely on the evidence and arguments presented by the contending lawyers. The advocacy has been reduced to a foul play of words and logic. Yet, it is presumed that the net effect of the falsehood of the two contending parties of lawyers would unfold the truth. What a travesty of judicial reasoning! The net effect, in reality, is that the malefactors are having heyday. The lawyers grow in riches; the weak, the poor and the oppressed are the sufferers.
The magnanimity of the law for the criminals did not stop here. The modernised legal system had almost guaranteed that they would not be guillotined whatever the nature and severity of their crime. The procedural wrangles and the brilliance of lawyers, assisted by the free flow of cash and kind, had considerably brightened the prospects of their protection against conviction. But these were not enough for their satisfaction. The fear of imprisonment still loomed large before them. The hardships of jails were not acceptable to killers, rapists and dacoits. Their masters then exhorted the “humanists” to campaign for improvement in the conditions of prisons. It was argued that the prisons should not merely be places of punishment. The prisoners had the right to live a decent life, and endeavours ought to be made to ‘reform’ them. As a result, the prisoners today in many countries enjoy a life better than that of a large segment of the people. They are supplied with much better food, from the point of view of their nutritional value as well as taste, and have more facilities of entertainment than the ordinary, impoverished masses. Moreover, they engage themselves in prisons in all such activities including sexual pleasures as they like. Homosexuality in prisons is extremely common.
What has been the impact of these modernist reforms in the legal system? People all over the world, with the only exception of some hard-core Islamic countries, live under a constant danger of being murdered, beaten, looted, raped and kidnapped. The people in fact are no more shocked to hear the news of ghastly murders and rapes. These have become the order of the day and the minds have become conditioned to ignore them. The “experts” and “analysts” work hard to investigate and point out myriads of causes for the decline in law and order, and revel in presenting numerous complex and often incomprehensible solutions; they would deliberately avoid pinpointing the real culprit: the inefficient law. They would explain that the crimes are the natural by-products of technical and industrial development and would take great pains in establishing that the crime and corruption were ‘global phenomena’. These are ‘necessary evils’ the modern and developing world must learn to live with. The remedies suggested would include advising the people to take precautionary measures and advising the administration to have sophisticated weapons and detective and monitoring systems. They conveniently forget that the criminals are equally competent and vigilant competitors. They possess equally sophisticated weapons and systems and do also know the ways to win over the ministers, administrative officials and police officers. Whatever marks could have been left behind them during the course of crime are promptly destroyed by the ever-obliging policemen.
The paralysis of legal system led not only to the transformation of individuals in an increasing number into criminals of different sorts; soon, crime itself also became a business and saw the emergence of ‘organised crime.’ A spirit of opposition to the law was witnessed in certain sections of society favouring private rather than the legal justice. A secret society of criminals established its roots in Sicily and spread terror far and wide. This organisation called Mafia controlled several illegal activities including gambling and narcotics, and became especially active in the United States. A Great number of similar mafias are presently operating all over the world. Some of them have grown in such strength that even the governments, even if they desire, have no guts to destroy them. Mafia are now engaged in wide range of commercial activities, from the smuggling of gold, diamond and narcotics to the sex-market, real estate businesses, hotel industry, gambling and the sales of deadly weapons. Their liaisons with the politicians and the police are well known. ‘Mafiocracy’ can perhaps be regarded as the ugliest and deadliest product of economic fundamentalism.
Apart from a victorious assault on capital punishment and maiming of the criminal laws, numerous other modifications have been made in the letter and spirit of the constitutions. These include an over-emphasis on fundamental rights vis-a-vis fundamental duties and absolute denial of place to fundamental prohibitions, imparting a highly partisan definition to Human Rights, popularisation of several crimes including malversation as necessary evils, giving undue privileges in the name of industrialisation and economic development to the magnates and stress on certain rights of dubious nature in the name of personal freedom and equality. dubious nature in the name of personal freedom and equality. The laws related to sex and sexuality underwent massive transformation. Evil practices including sex outside marriage, homosexuality and nudity were given legal vanguard. Sex trade was either given explicit legal sanction, or legal offshoots were developed to use “entertainment” as cover for sexual services. Marriage system was weakened through several steps. Legal “reforms” were pushed to help the cause of girlfriends and unwed mothers, which in reality meant the cause of boyfriends and unmarried fathers. All these will be discussed in detail in the coming chapters.
In order to promote ideas of their own choices, many governments now take the views and inclinations of the proposed candidates for appointment as the judges of the highest courts. This is most evident in the United States where only the individuals with views similar to those of the President are usually appointed. [+ Article Two of the United States Constitution+] requires the President of the United States to nominate Supreme Court Justices and, with Senate confirmation, requires Justices to be appointed. This was for the division of power between the President and Senate by the founders, who wrote: “he shall nominate, and by and with the _][_ of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the Supreme Court…”_] An article on Wikipedia says:
“Upon the election of a new President, incoming White House staff prepares profiles of possible candidates for the Supreme Court, considering not only judges but also politicians and other individuals whom they consider appropriate for the role. Besides considering national figures whose views are well-known, they consider others who are less recognized. They go through published rulings, articles, speeches, and other background material to get an idea of candidates’ values and views on constitutional issues. Age, health, race, gender, and likelihood of confirmation are also factored into considerations. Once a Supreme Court vacancy opens, the President discusses the candidates with advisors. Senators also call the President with suggestions. After a first choice is decided, the candidate is contacted and called on by the President to serve on the highest court. Staffers send a vetting form for the candidate to fill out. They visit the candidate to go over tax records and payments to domestic help. Candidates whom the President has never met are interviewed by White House officials before being sent to the White House to be interviewed in person by the President. After making a final decision, the President calls the candidate, who is told to prepare a statement for an appearance in front of the national press for the President’s formal announcement.
“Most Presidents nominate individuals who broadly share their ideological views. In many cases, however, a Justice’s decisions may be contrary to what the nominating President anticipated. A famous instance was Chief Justice _]_Dwight D. Eisenhower+][_ expected him to be a conservative judge, but his decisions are arguably among the most liberal in the Court’s history. Eisenhower later called the appointment “the biggest damn fool mistake I ever made”. ][_Another Justice whose decisions ran contrary to what was believed to be his ideology was _]], who was nominated to the high court in 1990 by President _]. Many pundits and politicians at the time expected Souter to be a conservative; however, after becoming a Justice, his opinions generally fell on the liberal side of the political spectrum.
“Because the Constitution does not set any qualifications for service as a Justice, the President may nominate any individual to serve on the Court. However, that person must receive the confirmation of the Senate.”
It is no surprise then that, in recent years, their views on homosexuality and gay marriages, abortions, gun policy, views on Israel and Palestine and other politically sensitive issues have been taken into account in the appointment of the judges.
What a travesty of justice! Injustices perpetrated on the system of justice! The system has been made defunct, its morality has been raped, its riches have been plundered and its sanctity has been ravished. The system has helped every other cause but not justice. It has made the officers of the court and the law implementing agencies greatly richer; it has saved the criminals from the punishments proportionate to their crimes; it has opened the floodgates for the corporates for accumulating the wealth; and it has helped the people becoming addicts of various substances and practices. The institution of justice is not any more the system that delivers justice and ensures social order; it now the industry that generates wealth.
The growth of economic fundamentalism depended on two main factors; the policies of the government and the perceptions and proclivities of the people. ‘The big business’ targeted both. On the one hand, it incessantly campaigned for sweeping modifications in the law; this was done by putting pressure on, or luring the politicians by fulfilling their pecuniary expectations. On the other hand, it regularly schemed to captivate the imagination of the masses. Without continuous generation and escalation of demands, the generous assistance of the politicians and administration would be of no avail. There were various venues open for them and their tireless efforts spared none. With the steady elevation of the level of literacy, media had started becoming stronger day by day. The technological advancement was procuring sophisticated machines for it. First came the advanced printers. The publication of books, newspapers and magazines started picking up. The big publishing houses began to flourish. Then came the invention of radio, followed by tape recorders. The audio companies emerged offering mind-boggling variety of music to the listeners. The invention of cameras heralded a revolution in the media. The television soon appeared on the scene and within a few decades entered every decent house. Films had already started captivating the imagination of people who would throng to the cinema halls whenever a film was released. Lately, the video companies have been doing roaring business all over the world. The Internet Revolution has given an unprecedented boost to their plans. Not only did the media-men engaged in the audio, video and film industries find these extremely lucrative but soon the whole industry realised the extraordinary potential of the media as the supporter and promoter of market. Earlier, the newspapers and magazines were published mostly by those whose aim was to educate, inform and reform the people. They set high ideals for themselves and adhered to their convictions even at the cost of financial losses. The radio and television were generally controlled by the state and the business tycoons were not in a position to fully exploit them. The advertising had already commenced but it was limited to the wall-paintings, or loudspeakers and newspapers and magazines. With the ongoing privatisation of economy, the media too went commercial and a complete metamorphosis was brought about in its structure and functioning. The small newspapers and magazines owned and edited by dedicated persons who used to revolutionise society through ideological and patriotic fervour paled before the new media blitz backed by the industrialists. The big newspapers had the volume and appearance that attracted the masses. These newspapers survived because their managers were able to successfully commercialise them. In the late twentieth century, the television also slipped into private hands. Earlier, the media aimed to inform, educate and reform. Entertainment was very much there but this also invariably carried implicit or explicit social and moral messages. The advertisements, too, did not flout the social norms. With the media falling in the hands of the economic fundamentalists, it has ceased to be a teacher and reformer. Instead, it has become an electronic salesman of unparalleled efficiency. Whatever little contents of information and knowledge it disseminates are also a part of the marketing strategies or the attempt to silence the critics. Apart from the great heights the advertising has acquired, every single programme presented on TV is consciously produced with the purpose of changing social norms corresponding to their long-marketing strategies. The entertainment now offered on various channels has nothing to do with the intellect, humanist sentiments or spirituality; it only seeks to galvanise the basic instincts and to electrify the physical desires. This kills many birds with one stone. The channel itself enhances its position on the popularity chart, brings in advertisements in large numbers and changes the perceptions and tastes of men, women and children; their galvanised desires drive them to markets of different kinds. The latest trends in fashion take them to the garments bazaar. The inherent desire to attract the opposite sex makes them empty their pockets buying gorgeous dresses, stimulating perfumes, cosmetics, jewellery, shoes and thousands of other items. Sex too is available to them in various forms: still pictures of ‘naughties’ in the soft porno magazines, depictions of sexual act in the films and on internet and women themselves in the red light areas.
The objectives behind the privatisation of media are not limited to making money through advertisement or through the sale of newspapers, magazines and cassettes. The real aims are much bigger. One is to maintain pressure on the government to follow the ‘desired’ policies and to defeat a democratic government not following the diktat of the economic fundamentalists through vituperative and slanderous campaigns against it, and to assist a new political group in ascending the throne by mobilising support for it. Sometimes it also happens that the industrialists are not in unison over the question of support to different political parties. In that case the newspapers, magazines and TV channels controlled or backed by them may support the opposing groups or leaders. But more often, the choices of the whole business-world converge on a single political party or leader. Obviously, the media leaves no stone unturned in building up the image of that party and its leaders. When a government refuses to pursue a market-friendly approach, the news media openly indulge in slanderous portrayal of its ministers; and stories are planted to spoil their images in the eye of public. Even the positive actions of the government are given ugly twists. Any steps taken by the government that are even marginally in favour of the common people and are at the same time detrimental to the interests of the bazar are promptly labelled ‘populist’. The fascinating terms like ‘populism’, ‘povertyism’, ‘minoritysim’ and ‘casteism’ have been invented to describe the policies that are aimed at elevating the life standards of any of the downtrodden segments of society. A political leader who has genuine concern for the masses and loathes the exploiters is presented by the press in the darkest possible colours; he is reviled as backward, retrogressive, rabble-rouser, anti-development and what not. The probity and dedication of a leader impresses the press only till he is supposed to do nothing against the economic fundamentalists. No wonder then that the men of integrity are becoming a rare species in the public life all over the globe; such are the requirements for success in politics that it would be repulsive for any upright man who quivers at the very thought of dealing with the criminals and looters of public money and therefore remains safely confined to his own profession or career.
The press is extremely choosy in reports and articles of various hues. These are always aimed at promoting individualism, sexual freedom, aristocratic lifestyles, capitalistic economics and rightist politics. When the elections approach, the role of media becomes even more notorious. The big industrialists and their minions and cronies hold regular conferences to chart out their strategies. The political choices are clearly spelt out and scrutinised. It is followed by discussion on how to promote specific parties or leaders. The media becomes abuzz with attractive stories that seek to alter the political environment. In the recent past, pre-election analyses have become a favourite tool for the media to further the interests of their political friends. The surveys are so planned so as to give a misplaced account of political sentiment prevailing in the country.
The media has been playing dirty tricks for quite long. In the eighties, the Shah Bano case was blown into a huge controversy that triggered the Muslim reaction who wholeheartedly stood against the supreme court verdict in the case and successfully campaigned to get it reversed through promulgation of Muslim Women Act. The media projected the whole controversy in a way so as to gave the impression that Islam suppressed the fair sex and only the media knew what was good for Muslim women. The Muslim ulama, intellectuals and legal experts had numerous objections to the judgement, many of which were understandable; but their views were brutally trampled upon. The result of the unilateral debate was that Hindus and other non-Muslim communities of India developed a sort of disregard, even contempt for Muslims and their religion. This was promptly utilised by the protagonists of Hindutva to fan hatred against Muslims and then use it in their campaign for the demolition of Babri Mosque where they planned to build a monumental Ramjanambhoomi temple. When the BJP leader, Lal Krishan Advani, mounted on the rath which rolled on the roads of the country, the media turned saffron. Similarly, V.P. Singh who was earlier an epitome of honesty in the minds of the majority of lower and upper middle class people was converted into a despicable villain overnight after his government accepted the Mandal Commission report providing reservation in government jobs for the backward classes. The economic fundamentalists and the media supported by it have always defended the status quo. The Mandalised politics would help those sections of society to prosper that had historically been subservient to the upper castes. The acceptance of Mandal Commission report came as a caveat to the status quoists; the future of their generations was in jeopardy. Such was the threat to their economic and social hegemony that it prompted them to launch a highly abhorrent campaign during which a number of students tried to immolate themselves. The press lavished on these unfortunate incidents a highly invidious coverage. What happened in the aftermath of that frenzy is history. The country witnessed brutal polarisation of the masses on the caste and communal grounds. The whole political scenario has since undergone a total metamorphosis.
The media plays the same political games in all the democracies of the world. One objective it has achieved without exception everywhere is that it has succeeded in sweeping all the social issues under the carpet. The matters having no economic significance are no more in discussion. The governments are grilled not for their failure in solving the real issues of life but only for the failures at the economic front; and the failures at the economic front are limited only to the failures related to the interests of market.
Another significant ‘contribution’ of the media has been its role in driving masses to the markets of all kinds. The media is least concerned with the welfare of the people, or their education and morals. Whatever information the media disseminates is almost always invested with some commercial linkage. The prints as well as the electronic media are playing this role to perfection. The overall strategy is to materialise human lives, as conscientious men and women are of no use to the market. It is in fact here that the intrigues of the economic fundamentalists have reached the most sordid level. For them human beings are no humans; they are either animals or machines. It is their animal instincts that fetch them wealth and they use the media to arouse these baser instincts. What a travesty of knowledge that the people these days know enormously more about film actors and actresses, models, fashion designers, musicians and dancers, than scientists, poets, thinkers and reformers.
Is it not sheer nonsense that a number of beauty pageant films and music awards programmes and fashion shows are telecast live all over the world but the recording of the presentation ceremony of the biggest academic awards, the Nobel Prize, is not telecast even at a later stage. There are no exclusive interviews of the Noble Laureates and hardly any prominence is given to their achievements. The snaps of a Miss World or Miss Universe continue to adore the newspapers and magazines for months but they have little space for the Nobel Prize, Magsaysay Award, Faisal Award or Nehru Award winners. The satellite TV has worsened the matter to unbearable limits. Throughout the day and night, the overwhelming majority of the channels present gorgeously or scantily clad film actors and actresses; the academicians, the moralists and reformists are consciously and conveniently neglected. In doing so, they succeed in amassing wealth not only themselves but also help the other industries to satiate their thirst. The advertisements go straight to strike the inner senses of the watchers who go to buy their ‘dream items’ at first opportunity.
Advertising propagates two fold messages. First, it convinces the target watchers that the possession of a certain product at the earliest shall enhance their social status, shall improve their quality of life and shall defend them against imminent dangers. Second, it blindly promotes such social values and aggravates such physical desires as will ensure benefits for the market. These two objectives are sometimes difficult to be simultaneously achieved in a single advertisement. Yet the advertisers are not ready to ignore either of the two, and it results in incongruity between the original message (about the product) and the scenes giving the underlined social message. Whatever the nature of the item, whatever its application and whoever its users, semi-naked, gorgeous women invariably appear on the screen. Not only the natural attraction between men and women is utilised to the hilt the human covetousness is also stimulated. If you wish or plan to win over a person or persons of the opposite sex or more appropriately speaking the sex of your choice, you must brush your teeth with specific brands of tooth brush and tooth paste, must shave yourself with the shaving machine, blade and shaving cream of a certain company, your hair must be washed with a particular shampoo, your bath must be with a specific kind of soap, you must put on trousers or shirts of a specific name, even your lingerie must belong to a certain company, you must wear a particular tie, you must have a shoe bearing a special name, must ride a specific bicycle, motorbike, scooter, motorcycle or a car, must smoke a particular brand of cigarette and must take beverages and wines produced by a certain company. Enjoying sex, you are made to believe, is the most essential part of life which should be topmost on your agenda from the time you step out of your bed till the time you retire; and for a wholesome and perfect sexual life, you must not forget to use all the ‘essentials’, mentioned about and many more. It does not stop here. The advertisements advise you which brand of condoms you must use and which tablet you must swallow and lotion you must spray on your genitalia to increase your sexual urge and power. After all, the ecstasy of sexual union must be shared by both the partners.
The advertisements are not alone in encouraging criminal liaisons. Even the programmes on TV and films, encourage premarital and extramarital relationships. The films show the lovers in extremely provocative dresses and in highly compromising positions. The message to the young lover is unambiguous. The lovers in the past would continue to have mental proximity for a number of years without compromising their physical aloofness; the modern lovers seek the earliest opportunity, which usually comes within a few days of their introduction, to engage in kissing and hugging culminating in the bed. For increasingly larger number of boys and girls, premarital sexual links are no more taboo. The television and films in West are miles ahead. Sex before marriage is a rule rather than exception there. The press there drives immense pleasure and of course money from publishing the photographs of eminent personalities in compromising positions or in the nude. To peep into the private lives of the rich and famous is a favourite pastime for the amateur cameramen and a lucrative job for the professionals. The tabloids are always willing to assist them in their naked pursuits.
The media in the West, for many years, have been in virtual control of private owners. In countries like, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and China, however, the appearance of private satellite channels is of relatively recent origin. But their entry has been with a bang. Their impact on public perceptions has already started puzzling the social scientists and unnerving the moralists. These satellite channels air a large number of film-based programmes. The restrictions on the official media do not generally apply on them. The dresses of the presenters on the private channels are becoming provocatively naughty. Now, the ladies, compeering or anchoring various programmes, who have relatively soberer looks on the government-owned channels, can be found more often than not dressed (or undressed) in shorts and shirts that do not make difficult for the watchers to see and imagines their anatomical detail. With the advent of new non-film musical videos, the media are better placed to be able to exploit the wild fantasies of young men and women. In order to compete with private channels, the official TV, too, has started presenting similar programmes.
As has been mentioned earlier, the economic fundamentalists owning the media have two-fold objectives. Not only do they multiply commercial gains by telecasting programmes showing women’s anatomy at its best, they also seek to develop a culture that would open new venues for business. Due to certain restrictions, however imposed by the law of land and also due to their own fears of provoking public protests, the media cannot show all that it wants to. But the media strategists are no idiots. They have thousands of ways to recondition human psychology. What they fail to carry through serials and other programmes, they achieve with the help of discourses and discussions organised on TV. The topics of discussions are mostly related to the changing social values. There are discussions, for example, on : Should there be any bar on women’s dresses, is there anything bad in posing nude before camera or giving “bold” scenes in the films and serials? What is wrong with premarital or extramarital liaisons? Is pornography bad? Should there be any legal measures against smoking and drinking? Should the unwed mothers be ostracised by society? Should the young girls opt for modelling as career? Is marriage necessary for society?, and so on. The presentation of such discussions is usually slick. The moderators engage the participants, who are chosen with the objective of conveying a specific message to the listeners or watchers, in a manner that the ultimate result would be in accordance with the specified objective. Though the protagonists and antagonists of a particular issue are given a fair chance to vent their feelings, the producers invariably succeed in extracting from the participants observations that fit in their own scheme of things. The substitution of such programmes appears in the magazines in the form of surveys based on a questionnaire that is circulated among a few thousand persons in a way as would give the desired impression. Recently, for example, some well-known magazines in India carried out surveys for determining the sexual attitude of people living in the country. The surveys indicated that the attitudes of Indian men and women too, like their counterparts in the West, were undergoing steady transformation and people in increasingly greater numbers were indulging in premarital and extramarital sex, and, even, incest and homosexuality were on the rise. The obvious purpose of these exercises is to suggest that the social and legal response towards these practices must change. The law must recognise them as “natural” aberrations or preferences that need neither condemnation nor punishment; society must stop stigmatizing the people behaving differently in their sexual choice, and others have no business to poke their noses.
It is not only the private media where economic fundamentalism manifests itself in its ugliest form, the corporations like BBC and Voice of America too are extremely partisan in their presentations. They project themselves as the most unbiased news organisations, but there is always a carefully hidden conspiracy lurking in the shadows of their programmes. Their objectives include presenting the people of the West as developed and civilised and the people of the East as backward, belligerent and uncivilised, making every possible effort to malign religion (especially a particular religion that is considered the biggest threat to their dominance), beating anti-west nations with the stick of “human rights”, blindly supporting individualism, regarding all social aberrations as natural, impressing upon the East that whatever vices the West is blamed for are also existing in their societies, and advising them that if they want to travel on the road to progress they have no option but to seek scientific, technical and economic assistance from Western Powers. BBC has always spouted venom on communism, Islam and Indian culture. It has constantly striven to demolish all religions in general and Islam in particular. The sense and concept of chastity with which Islam and other religious people have always been extremely concerned has been ridiculed rather than appreciated. Instead, it has carried reports on homosexuality and other similar perversions in some East Asian countries in order to convince the listeners that debauchery is not limited to the West.
The impact of economic fundamentalism on the press has spawned what is aptly termed ‘gutter journalism’. The market of newspapers and magazines expands in the wake of sensational stories. Scandals are reported with great fanfare. in fact non-issues are many a time converted with the magic of ink into or sound into mind-blowing scandals. Sex scandals have become routine in the West. Till recently such news was confined to a few tabloids and the leading dailies did not attach any significance to these stories. But now even the biggest dailies garnish their front pages with reports, often with ‘exciting’ photographs, on the private lives of public figures. The affairs of the members of the Royal family are the topics of discussion in bars, restaurants and clubs of England. The British tabloids excel in such reporting and always find a Crown Prince, his estranged wife, a duke or duchess, a Diana, Pamela or Jemima to embellish their pages. Indian newspapers too have now started giving elaborate coverage to the happenings involving personal lives of the rich and famous. The photographs of beauty pageants and models regularly appear in the national dailies. Marriages and divorces of the celebrities are piled on the agony.
The impacts of sensationalism in journalism on business are manifold. It multiplies the sales of newspapers and magazines, diverts the attention of the masses from their real problems that are mostly the outcome of glaring economic imbalances accentuated by economic fundamentalism, fans materialistic desires which are the key to consumerism and changes social and cultural ethos in society. Sometimes it goes to the extent of blackmailing the public figures. The increased sales naturally bring in more advertisements.
To justify and perpetuate its style of functioning, the media has discovered the “freedom of expression”, which has lately assumed notorious proportions. To traduce anybody, to malign religions and religious figures, to describe and exaggerate the most private areas of the life of any celebrity, to portray or publish anyone in the nude, to film the lewdest forms of sexual relations and to engage in disinformation for the furtherance of the desired objectives—all these have become great symbols of freedom of expression for them. Liberty has turned into libertinage and license to express has resulted in licentiousness. Any attempt to censor or curb such vagrancy attracts virulent condemnation by the media all over the world. Those who advocate some control on expression are booed down as the enemies of freedom, civilisation and development. To give further credence to its licentiousness, the media has used the “right to know” as an instrument to defend itself. And when, sometimes, it faces unbearably intensive shelling for its waywardness, it takes refuge in the argument that instead of making any laws to patrol the media the media must itself resolve to exercise self-restraint. This is another matter that, as soon as the controversy gets subdued the self-restraint too is cremated with full media honours. Thus “freedom of expression” is nothing but a tool in the hands of the economic fundamentalists, who misuse it with great effect for their commercial adventures.
No doubt one may smile and smile and yet be a villain.
With the successes in “reforming” law, “democratising” politics and administration, and marginalising religion, economic fundamentalism overcame some of the major stumbling blocks. With the ongoing emancipation of media from the administrative control, and the clutches of social taboos, the road was open for the inception of animated endeavours to ‘transform’ the social values; this was to be done in a way that would pave the way for the commercialisation of the objects and desires, good as well as bad, having market potential.
The dominance of religious and idealistic conviction all over the world meant that the people in general had respect for their duties. Anyone devoted to duties in life was showered upon with plaudits; in contrast, one lacking in dutifulness earned infectious contempt. Consequently, it was not easy for a person to be licentious. Not only did the law haunt him, he was also challenged by society. The elite, particularly the members of the ruling class sometimes succumbed to their basic instincts; but the common people generally led a relatively chaste life. Sinners, even if their sins were unknown to others, would sooner or later crumble under the weight of their conscience and would revert to a cleaner demeanour. If the ruler of the area himself happened to be a man of upright character, society would become purer; if his own integrity was doubtful he would still take extraordinary precautions so that his image did not get sullied, at least in the eyes of his subjects. This almost always meant that the level of depravity, with all its ups and downs, remained on the lower side. The business was usually limited to selling and purchasing of food items and goods of essential use. The emerging class of merchants and producers in the 19th and 20th century considered these conditions incompatible with their fundamentalist economic ideas. They believed that unless the social values were drastically reshaped, the prospects of their rise would continue to be ominously bleak. The quadriplegia of the legal system, the marginalisation of religion, the growing capability of industrialists to manoeuvre politics, the increasing fallibility of administrative personnel and the commercialisation of the media had already put them in the driving seat. The stage was now set for them to bulldoze the long-cherished social values.
The biggest challenge to the advance of economic fundamentalism was the “undue” emphasis in society on duties and prohibitions. The equilibrium between the rights, duties and prohibitions helped in keeping the susceptibilities of human beings to the worldly desires under check. The target customer of the big business was not an honest, less-worldly, God-fearing idealist whose preferences for self were no more pronounced than for the others. The idealists in society outnumbered them and would not let them spread their tentacles wide and across. Their dominating presence meant that any attempts to suppress egalitarianism would be met with stiff resistance. The backbone of their resistance was therefore to be broken. They contemplated that the human desires are too strong to be resisted by the common man. But it was difficult to convince the idealists. It was therefore felt that the ideologists must be challenged with a weapon similar to theirs. This, they contrived, would ultimately disarm them and, as a result of the debate, which was bound to be heated, prolonged and worldwide, they would win greater number of admirers with every passing day. They were pretty confident of their ultimate triumph, which they believed would come sooner than later because they knew that their opponents lacked in resources. The hired philosophers had sufficient fuel and the required support to ransack the old ideology; and the media was always ready to provide bases to their arsenals. The great 'ideological war' began with “rights” being its central theme. The self-proclaimed champions of personal rights soon started gaining popularity among the masses because their declared aim was to fight for the rights of the people. The people failed to fathom their undeclared motive -- to open new vistas for commercial entrepreneurship. The individual rights encompassed one’s right to wear whatever one likes or not to wear anything at all, to eat or drink whatever suits one’s taste, to have physical intimacy with anyone and in any style one chooses, to enjoy and entertain in whatever manner one deems fit, to see or show whatever one wants to, to express whatever appeals to one’s heart or mind, to earn from whatever resources one can find and to play whatever game one feels like playing. No act should be taboo for a man or woman, whatever the consequences of these acts on oneself or the environment. It was not permissible only when it directly impinged the rights of others. It should be his or her and nobody else’s concern if his or her actions prove good or bad.
Within a short span of time, the concept of individuals’ rights became megalomania for the intellectuals, writers, professionals and social activists. Their zeal rapidly zoomed because they had discovered in the newly found emphasis excellent prospects for their own fame and glory. Any one prescribing to the contrary had no takers in the media or the society of the elite; his voice waned rapidly to become inaudible for the masses. “Duty” almost ceased to exist, and “prohibition” became the most loathed word. The animus against all sorts of restrictions continued to rise in intensity and venom. The ability to manoeuvre politics emboldened the Mikados of business to challenge the very right of the government to meddle in the personal affairs of the citizens. Prior to that, it was the religion and the state that used to proscribe certain practices. Now the trend reversed with the religion and the state having been put under strict ‘prohibitory orders’. The emerging milieu reflected itself in the revised statutes. The constitution of a large number of countries introduced “Fundamental Rights” as their essential constituent. The fundamental duties either disappeared into total oblivion or were given nominal importance. The ‘fundamental prohibitions’ had no place at all in the new constitutional infrastructure. Anyone talking of prohibitions and duties was jeered at as “bloody moralist” or “Moral Police”, and was looked upon with contempt and even condemned as retrogressive and obscurantist; one advocating the lifting of all forms of curbs became “progressive” and “liberal”. Nobody was there to tell the campaigners against the “Moral police” that they have in effect became the Brigadiers of Immorality.
In the new social environment ideology became the biggest foe; its bete noire was pragmatism, which gained momentum with a dazzling speed. The very survival of the traditional ideology was now intolerable to the economic fundamentalists. The plan to lynch it was meticulously drawn and then began its systematic execution. The onslaught was commenced with the declaration that idealism existed only in the books or in the minds of a few eccentric individuals and had nothing to do with practical life. The advocacy of idealism was regarded utopianism; a utopian was one who advocated “impractical reforms” or who expected an “impossible state of perfection” in society. The message, though succinct, was unequivocal: idealism is of no utility for the masses because it impedes progress and development. “Be practical”, was the new maxim of life. Nothing can be achieved in the world by unnecessarily insisting on ideolistic details. Success in life requires a pragmatic approach.
Pragmatism was soon integrated with all the ingredients of selfishness. One who cares for others is impractical and has very little chance to “succeed”. One must have eye on one’s own benefits and must not hesitate in taking all the possible steps, without bothering about their moral dimensions, required for stepping up the ladder. “Conscience” was not dismissed altogether but was sought to be ‘reconditioned’ in accordance with the modern developments. The “realities of life” demanded a down-to-earth approach and not the high-flown ideals having no feet. The campaign was and has continued to be so fierce that idealism, even if it is assumed to have survived, has gone into a long hibernation.
The pragmatic approach in life means that every man and woman must concentrate only on his or her elevation and must care the least about society, must look for immediate gains, and must not be unduly dictated by the conscience. The philosophy of life has gained a new meaning-- not new in the chronological terms -- such inclinations had been observed before -- but in terms of its acceptance and rising popularity graph. Man has always been selfish in tendencies, but what different religions endeavoured to teach him was that selfishness was despicable; his selfishness was restrained by the constable of conscience and also by the awe of God and the stone of condemnation by society. The dream of paradise, the wish to please God and the prospects of winning accolades from society tended to keep his worldliness in check. This also meant that he often marvelled in self-denial and would even sacrifice his own possessions for others. The earth for him was a place of trial where every soul had to prove its mettle. His faith in the Hereafter was unshakable though it might have been in different forms in different religions. The strength of his faith more often than not forestalled his steps towards evil; if he committed a sin, his conscience would haunt him till he forsook it forever. There had been several thinkers in the past believing the present life to be the only life and advocating that one should have as much merriment as possible. But their views had little support in society which considered them heretical. With the ascent of economic fundamentalism, this ideology received a big boost. The philosophers who opined thus were all of a sudden in great demand. Their writings were instant hits at the stands. The media gave them a red carpet welcome; their royalties and remunerations touched new heights. The rat race for money, fame and glamour attracted great many writers who gave the masses a categorical message that life is real and final; the Hereafter is a fantasy of fools; one has got a single opportunity to enjoy life which is not long; why then waste it; why not enjoy every bit of it; do whatever pleases you; do not lend ears to what 'the bloody moralists' say; they are self-seekers who exploit masses for their own pleasure; what can one gain by following their senseless admonitions?
With self-gratification having become the sole motto of life, the social life underwent huge transformation. Gone were the days when “simple living and high thinking” used to be the golden maxim for a happy life. It was now given a grand farewell and was substituted by “high living and little thinking”, which became the driving force behind all the activities of life. The tools of “high living” started flooding the market with amazing velocity. And from the market, these flowed into the villas. In return, the coins filled the coffers of industrialists. The fans, the coolers, the air-conditioners, the refrigerators, the bicycles, the motor cycles, the cars, the ready-made cushions, the brocades, the splendid mind-boggling variety of furniture, the bulbs, the tubes, the lamps, the heaters- these and thousands of other goods became within a small time the necessities of life for all and sundry. Each single item that entered the market would soon become a symbol of standard in society and so great was the tempting impact of the advertisements that it would make men, women and children throng to the shops. Absence of any item in the house would indicate a deficient menagerie. This was bound to reduce in society the status of family which was more important than anything else. Scientists were burning their lives to illuminate the earth; but their distinguished discoveries and inventions would soon be hijacked by the economic fundamentalists for their selfish ends.
‘The electronic era’ dawned and a new revolution in the market unfolded itself. One by one, the radio, the telegraph, the telephone and the television made their appearances. The microphone, the megaphone, the tape recorder and the video cassette recorder became an instant craze with the well-to-do. The Computer Revolution unfolded itself and Internet soon became the vehicle of all the communication and information. The still cameras and the movie cameras are owned even by the middle class people. With the Mobile Revolution, not only the instant communication has become an unavoidable faculty but through it almost everything, from camera to television, has come into everybody’s pawn. Not only the newer items are hitting the market in rapidly multiplying numbers; the new models of already existing items are also being introduced every day. The mad race among the people is not confined to purchasing every new item available in the market, it is also motivating the people to rope in every new model earlier than the others.
The modern man does not remain satisfied merely with embellishing his house. He is equally crazy to present himself with fascinating elegance. The latest fashion clothes, shoes, cosmetics and perfumes drive him on a buying spree. It will be seen below how the economic fundamentalists have masterminded the multiplication of demands of the consumer items through conscious transformation of social behaviour.
The enhanced worldliness combined with the self-gratification to bring up the party culture. Even before, people loved to gather in the evenings and on specific occasions like marriages and festivals. They used to wait for months for these celebrations and would wear their best dresses. Businessmen were smart enough to recognize the susceptibility of the people to mix with others and sing and dance in merriment. New celebrations meant opening of new markets. The sale of greeting cards would multiply, the fortunes of cloth and shoe business would become upbeat, the hotels would do a roaring business, the confectioneries would earn tremendous profits, there would be a spurt in the demands of cosmetics and above all the liquor industry would get an outstanding opportunity to spread its tentacles. The birthdays that used to be the privilege of high class gentry now acquired huge popularity among the masses. The marriage anniversaries became an essential part of life. This meant that if a family had three children it would have at least four family celebrations every year; add Christmas and New Year, and it comes to six. But this too was considered less than enough. The celebrations have since then continued to increase in number, in pompousness and scope. Now, there are bright prospects of a card on every small news; promotion in service, success in examination, business contracts, engagement, birth or christening of a baby, — all are sufficient grounds for merrymaking. The East too has not remained far behind. Apart from the New Year, birthdays and marriage anniversaries, which have become ubiquitous, there are Mundan (head-shaving), Namkaran (naming of the new born) and Grah Pravesh (inauguration of the new house), ceremonies and festivals like Diwali, Holi, Rakshbandhan, Dussehra, Baisakhi and Lohri among Hindus, and Aqueea (head shaving), Khatna (circumcision), the two ids, Shab-e-barat and the Prophet’s birthday among Muslims, Many other days are being now introduced and promoted by the cards industry. In the olden days, people used to congratulate one another on specific occasions through personal meetings or ordinary letters. Now, the propriety of occasion demands a costly, glossy greeting card. Cards are available for every possible occasion and purpose: for felicitations, congratulations, best wishes, and also condolences. Besides the new year, there is now a wide ranging variety of cards for Diwali, Holi, Rakshabandhan, Dussehra, Baisakhi, Idulfir, Idul Zuha, May Day, Valentine’s Day, Women’s day etc; there are Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Children’s Day in some parts of the world.
The biggest cultural revolution in the social life of people, obviously the direct outcome of their craze for entertainment, came in the field of music and drama. This began with the theatrical display and, with the ongoing advancement in audio and video technology developed to take the shape of films, videos and audios. The film industry and the electronic industry joined the top ranking industries of the world. Initially the films and dramas used to be sober and carried moral lessons for society. But with the march of time that witnessed the craziest commercialization of human desires, glamour out-marshalled the morals. Dancing, singing and love-making became the most sought-after activities. The cinemas started drawing full-houses; the sales of records and cassettes touched newer height every year. With the advent and rapid popularity of videocassette recorders, the videos have flooded the market. Earlier, only the film music had big following; now the non-film music has proved to be equally saleable. Actors, dancers, musicians and singers draw huge crowds wherever they go, vastly greater than the politicians, social activists and thinkers. People, from adolescents to octogenarians, swoon over a single glimpse of film personalities and dancing stars. They have occupied the position of role-models for teenagers who imitate their dresses, hair styles, and their manners of walking and speaking. Their knowledge about their lives is infinitely more than about the great personalities of history. To find what a paramount part the music and films are playing in the lives of young men and women, one needs to pass a few hours in a university hostel. The atmosphere there is invariably abuzz with echoes of the latest musical albums; the walls of the rooms are plastered with life-size photographs of actors, actresses and fashion models, canteens and campuses would be witnessing acrimonious discussions about the relative merits of the established and upcoming stars; and as soon as the first opportunity arrives, students throng cinema halls. The choicest gifts that are exchanged among the students, which even parents are persuaded to present on the occasion of festivals and important dates, would often be some items related to their craze for films and music — a tape-recorder, a stereo-deck, a cassette, a VCR a or dress similar to that donned by a favourite star in a recent appearance.
The bosses of economic fundamentalism had reckoned quite early in their march towards glory that the sales of consumer items would receive a shot in arm if the natural attraction between men and women was exploited up to the hilt. The early realisation of this fact signalled the dawn of a new era where everything formerly considered private would turn public, and everything that formerly had public importance would be enchained forever. Throughout the ages, almost all over the globe, there had been curbs on free meeting of adult men and women because of the attendant risks in such unions. The activities of young men as well as women were always under close scrutiny. The elders would take serious notice of even the slightest violations of the code of conduct, written or unwritten, which was in force in society. The restrictions on women were somewhat more strictly enforced as it was they who faced the biological consequences of any breach of sexual barriers. The man would go scot-free unless of course the evidence of his involvement was proved beyond doubt. The woman whose involvement did not require any proof had to face the brunt of the law. If she had no evidence to prove who the child’s father was and the father did not come forward to hold her hands, she could face death, lashes or ostracisation from society. The greater restraints on women were therefore understandable. The parents wanted to avoid at all costs such a sorry situation. They would therefore marry their children, especially daughters as soon as, sometimes even before, the first signs of their puberty surfaced. Early marriages were the rule than an exception throughout the world. This guaranteed chastity in social life as well as a strong and smooth family system.
But such a system was inimical to the interests of manufacturers and merchants. For a steady boom in the consumer market, these restraints had to be slackened. However, to strike at the established norms was an onerous task. Whatever the hidden motive, the declared intention must look humanistic. This led to the beginning of the great ideological war for the “emancipation” of women. The age-old “atrocities” being perpetrated on women were reproduced in grotesque details. The fact that woman too, in her own indomitable style, using her own strengths, often exploited man’s weaknesses, dominated and oppressed him, was entirely ignored. The relationship between the two sexes was converted into a lifelong tussle and was reduced to a husband-wife battle for dominance. The whole society was declared ‘male chauvinist’. The truth that women’s rights were trampled upon in many parts of the world and the clergy often misinterpreted the scriptures to deny them their rightful share facilitated the matters for the economic fundamentalists who found their game-plan to be proceeding with great velocity towards its ultimate victory. Feminism assumed enormous significance. It became one of the most talked about, the most debated and the most widespread movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The movement fed by the big business engendered a new socio-cultural milieu, which produced two distinct kinds of feminists: genuine and sham. The genuine feminists had real concern for the upheaval of the fair sex. But they could not properly comprehend the machinations of the market forces in their overwhelming support for their feminist struggle. Unfortunately, their thoughts were constructed on the basis of the market-sponsored magazines, books and journals, and they adopted the language of these publications. This resulted in an error of judgment on their part. Much greater in number were the sham or pseudo feminists who thrived and gained tremendous fame and earned huge wealth for their pro-market views on men-women relationship. Little they felt for the uplift of women. Their aim on the contrary was to redefine their status that will make it easy for the economic fundamentalists to use them for the benefit of their gargantuan appetite for money. With the women continuing to be safely entrenched for most of the time within the environs of their houses, the mutual charm between the two sexes, which had great commercial potential, could not blossom. Once the women start coming out of their houses and the prospects of mixing of men and women brighten, in order to attract one another with their physical treasures, they would be more than willing to spend their hard-earned money for purchasing a variety of decorative items. Many a new area of commercialisation would also open with the passage of time.
The feminists began to give horrendous accounts of how the "second sex" had always been slighted by the "first" as well as by Nature. She is created "inferior" by God; at her birth, she is an unwelcome entry into the family, which often is grief-stricken; her desires are overlooked by her parents in comparison to her brother's; is not allowed free movement in social circles; is married mostly against her wishes; has to live her married life as her husband's "slave";, has to bear the discomfort of keeping her children in her belly for a long period; has to experience severe pangs of delivery; has to make innumerable sacrifices to bring comfort to her husband; and children and is severely punished by society for her silliest mistakes. Some of these charges may be having substance. But it is also true that woman as mother has always been extolled all over the world; as daughter, she receives undiluted love of her parents whose faces turn gloomy at the very thought of their daughter being separated from them; is not generally physically hit which is a routine treatment meted out to her brother; her future welfare is always kept in mind while choosing her spouse; would be bidden a tearful farewell on her marriage; would generally be given a tumultuous welcome by her parents and brothers whenever she comes to meet them; would be gifted in many parts of the world, in order to ensure a comfortable life for her, a dowry often out of proportion to the financial status of the parents who would even take loan to marry her off; her husband would shower choicest of romantic phrases on her; would take every possible precaution for her health and welfare when she becomes pregnant, would consult her in most of the family affairs; would even hand over to her the charge of all his finances; and when her children grow up, she would become a proud mother whose obedience and love will pamper her till she leaves the world. If many a man has not properly behaved with women, it is also true that many a woman have also caused unbearable mental anguish and torture to their husbands. History is witness how the women of the palaces have played extremely significant roles -- openly or behind the scenes, in administration and have time and again been entangled in conspiracies to overthrow one king in order to install the other. Throughout the human history, woman has been loved, sung and eulogised by men who would risk their relations, their precious possessions and even their physical safety to win her over. It will also not be true to say that man loved woman only for the sake of his sexual desires. There have been innumerable men whose love for their wives did not diminish even after their deaths and who spent their wealth in their memory, the Taj Mahal being the most beautiful and outstanding symbol of on extraordinary emotional love of a husband for his dear wife. And the instances are not rare when a woman extorted somebody's fascination or love for her own selfish ends.
The feminists had their eyes fixed only on the atrocities committed on women by men. They miserably failed, or to be honest, deliberately refused to look on the other side. If they had done so with the earnestness of purpose, the consequences could not have been as horrendously damaging to mankind as they have been. They could then have closely watched the developments, and could perhaps have forestalled the march of time from going the wrong way. They might then have saved womankind from becoming the most obedient slaves of man’s desires which it has lately become. They could still have campaigned for the improvement of women in appropriate fields. The woman’s lib might then not have become a mere tool of exploitation in the hands of foxy and covetous merchants. She might then have walked ahead triumphantly, albeit with grace and without annoying the tranquillity of family and society, to her desired status in the world. But alas, this was not to be. The so-called feminism, in perspective, turned out to be either sham and contrived or ill-informed and ill-conceived. It did not deliver any good and in addition burdened woman’s shoulders much beyond her physical and mental capacity.
As I have pointed out earlier, this feminism was only an escapade for the economic fundamentalists who were busy masterminding a long-term strategy to convert woman into a consumer item. But, before striving in that direction, it was imperative that women must relinquish forever their reluctance to mix with men. This vision of “freedom” was too fantastic for women to resist. They had little idea as to what actually was behind the sudden urgency for bestowing on them their long-desired “rights”. The participation of women began to increase in common gatherings; the parties, proportionately, grew in colour and in frequency. Men and women would assemble either in a banquet hall of a hotel or in a private rendezvous in their most persuasive dresses. They would then sing and dance together to haunting, often provocative melodies. The excitement in those parties would entrap both men and women, and their over-increasing proximities would enthral their spirits.
The closeting of men and women was the key to major developments in future merchandise. This required therefore to be importuned at all the possible levels of human life. The schools attracted the urgent attention of the think-tank of big business, and co-education soon made its appearance as the symbol of highest quality for the schools till the primary or secondary level. There was absolutely no problem for the parents to get their sons and daughters admitted in these schools. But they were a bit unwilling to send their children, particularly daughters, to higher secondary and degree colleges because by that time the children had started entering adolescent periods of their lives. They feared that the exuberance of early puberty could mislead them and land them in jeopardy. Their discomfort would however vanish at the thought of the academic prospects of their children, which they were made to believe emanated from these co-ed institutions.
There was no serious impediment in the burgeoning of co-education schools in the Occidental part of the world. But in Oriental countries, particularly where Islam was a dominant force, these attempts were met with stiff resistance. During the life-time of Prophet Muhammad and in the early part of the Post-Muhammad era, the dress code applicable to men and women did mean neither a specific type of dress like burqua for women nor total segregation. Women with their heads covered and their bodies adorning simple, non-provocative, decent garments and their bosoms further protected by chadars used to offer congregational prayers in mosques along with men. Their participation had been remarkable in almost all the battles Muslims had to engage in. While some women took arms and fought valiantly at the battle front, most of them worked behind the ranks nursing the injured with religious fervour and passion. The advent of Muhammed brought education at the top of the agenda of the activities of his followers. Women did not lag behind. They used to furnish themselves with knowledge along with men in the classes conducted by Ali, the most acknowledged expert of the religious sciences. Women used to present their points of views and cases in the assemblies of Caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar. But all these assemblies stuck to certain regulations to prevent any mischief. In the mosques, women’s row would be behind those of men and children. They would be the first to leave mosques and when all of them had left men would come out. In the classes, women would sit on one side and men on the other. With the passage of time however, the provisions of purdah took the form of a specific robe, bruqua for women going out of their houses. Their participation in congregational prayers was forbidden by the latter clerics and segregation became too impervious to allow any scope for their participation in educational and other pursuits that could require going out of their houses.
Islam had wonderful counterpoise in its social system. It had no scope for dominance of either men or women. It gave women extraordinary rights and at the same time took extremely effective steps to safeguard them from all types of physical threats and exploitation. It bestowed on them economic rights comprising the right to inherit (in proportion to their economic obligations), share in the properties of their fathers, mothers, husbands, sons and daughters, made a provision of dower for them (in consideration of their marriage), which was obligatory on their husbands and had to be given before the consummation of marriage, and the right to own properties. It awarded them, like their male counterparts, the right to earn but did not make it obligatory for them, thus giving them not only the right to earn but also the right not to earn; in that case, the husbands were duty-bound to maintain them in a way befitting their status. Besides the economic rights, Islam also excelled in giving them equal rights in social life, such as the absolute right to choose their spouse, the right to seek from their husbands or sue them for divorce, the right to receive maintenance from husbands till their divorce was formalised, and maintenance for their children till they were looked after by her, the right to remarry after divorce, and after her husband’s death, the right to have or not to have children in consultation with their husbands and the right to look after their children, in case they are divorced, till a certain point of time. Islam not only endowed women with the right to learn, equal rights in religion, education and prayers were made obligatory on them just in the same way as they were on men. Of still greater social significance is the fact that Islam imposed such restrictions on men (and women) as would ensure physical and mental security of women. These include total ban on alcohol, gambling and adultery. Purdah was not obligatory, as is commonly understood, on women alone; men also could not reveal most parts of their bodies and would preferably cover their heads.
Unfortunately however, several of these rights were compromised with in successive Muslim societies. This provided the economic fundamentalists an opportunity to malign Islam as anti-women. Their obvious aim was to incite women against their religion. The game-plan met with partial successes, especially in those countries, which either had either a foreign rule or rulers influenced by the West or Westernism. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many governments in Muslim countries including Iran, Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon strove to impose western values on their people. The purdah was forcibly abolished and the women of these countries willingly or unwillingly started participating in the same form of activities as the western women were engaged in. At one time, night clubs flourished in Tehran, Cairo and Beirut.
But the roots of faith were too strong in Muslims to allow it to continue for long. Within half a century, men and women in these countries developed aversion for the new values in increasing numbers. The on-going nakedness stopped and women again started wrapping themselves in the garb of purity; they continued to engage in the educational and other social pursuits in a way as would not make them vulnerable to exploitative practices.
As mentioned in the previous pages, the feminists throughout the world had been raising a hue and cry over the alleged atrocities on women by men. This was aimed at convincing women that they were their sympathisers and then they instigated them to open rebellion against the “male chauvinists” of their families and societies. Poor women, eager to earn absolute independence, fell into the adroitly laid trap. They were made to believe that the household work they did was more ignoble and immaterial than the work in offices and other areas outside their houses. While serving the husbands and children was menial, serving the bosses as secretaries or public as receptionists and air-hostesses was admirable. Men could polish their clothes but if women cooked food for their families and cleansed their houses it would become an unbearable sight for the feminists. This is another matter that in practice women could never detach themselves from the management of the house and have befooled themselves by putting additional burden of earning on their shoulders.
The new developments have earned little benefit for women; they are in fact in a state of imbroglio. They have only succeeded in satisfying the ulterior motives of the forces of economics. First, women outside their houses are much easier prey for the jaguars of the Sex Industry whose middlemen and brokers, especially in the big cities, win over many of them through promises of money and glory for sex-related activities. Secondly, with the husbands and wives both working, they can save, after routine essential expenses, more money to purchase consumer items. Thirdly, the working women are expected to spend more on their clothes, cosmetics, perfumes, etc., than the housewives and would also require their own vehicles. Fourthly, with both the parents going to work, there is a greater scope for commercialisation of education (Nursery, Pre-nursery, Pre-prenursery schools, baby-sitters, etc.). Fifthly, the influence of such parents over their children is bound to diminish. Impoverished links between parents and children help the cause of the big business. Sixthly, the charm of lady receptionists, secretaries and salespersons is expected to attract more clients, thus increasing the financial prospects of the companies.
The feminist movements in the West and elsewhere had already spawned a socio-cultural milieu that encouraged women’s participation in social activities. Feminism had imbued their minds with a fallacious sense of euphoria over their newly found liberty and freedom. Freedom was too fantastic a slogan to resist and the prospects of riddance from the ennui of routine menagerie was a dream come true. Hardly did they realize that the freedom they were being made to achieve was but a mirage and the movement for women’s liberty was a calculated move initiated or supported by the cunning merchants. Having excelled in misusing fascination between men and women to further their business, it was now time to sexually abuse women for money. The economic fundamentalists had pretty well recognised the big potential of sex as market. The desire for cars, scooters, fashionable garments and other items of luxury could be wanting in a number of human beings but sex is a universal human urge and even the most pious tends to succumb to sexual advances of a member of the opposite, or to be currently more correct, the preferred sex. Man longs to have as many partners in bed as he can lay hands on. The immanence of this human tendency throughout the world is an irrefutable fact of life. The commercialisation of sex therefore was expected to generate massive dividends unparalleled in any other business. Furthermore, sex could be used for boosting other markets as well. Many stumbling blocks in the path of merchandising of sex had already been crushed or made defunct. The women were now willing to be active participants in any dispensation. Their longing for luxurious life was rapidly intensifying; they had smelled economic independence. Unfortunately however, women failed to exercise their wisdom in distinguishing between true freedom, which would elevate their social and economic status without turning them into victims of savage exploitation, and fake freedom, which was advertently inculcated in them by the merchants in order to expand their financial empires. Little did women understand that their personal rights would be used as instruments for their abuse!
The first necessity for the commercialisation of sex was that women must get accustomed to revealing their anatomy before others. This could not be accomplished overnight. The first step in that direction was popularisation of ‘fashion’ which soon became a word most dear to men and women of all ages and groups. Fashion as an industry developed leaps and bounds and corresponding to its growth the size and volume of clothes adored by women got shortened. Covering the heads had always been regarded both by men and women in almost all the faiths that flourished anywhere on the globe as a sign of virtue. It indicated the decency of personality and righteousness of character. Head-kerchief was the first casualty of the storm of fashion. This led to the display of dozens of attractive hairstyles. Then the arms and shoulders were bared and the neckline started descending. Skirts began to shrink and miniskirts and shorts steadily marked their presence on the fashion scene. Swimming suits were then popularised through sports—women had the right to play—and films. Within a short period of time the topless blondes and Negroes could be seen on hundreds of beaches all over the world. The business through beaches reached great heights. The nude poses of women—even an ugly woman could be made sexy by an expert photographer—started regularly appearing in some magazines and newspapers. The films excelled in showing them taking bath or changing clothes. The portrayal of sexual acts was soon to follow.
As discussed in the previous chapter, Purdah (veil) was the most abominable sight for the economic fundamentalists donning the garb of feminism. It must be clarified here that purdah (covering of body) was not limited to the Islamic world as is often believed. Almost all the races, communities and sects except some tribes insisted on covering most parts of the body. Women, especially belonging to the upper class, usually covered their heads and put an extra cloth on their bosoms. The difference in the case of Islam was that it had assumed the shape of burqua. The campaign of the pseudo feminists was therefore directed against all such societies that prescribed some code of dressing. How a woman reluctant even to show her face and hair could be persuaded to bare her breasts, thighs and buttocks! The unholy war against the ‘veil’ in the countries, where it was still in practice, got intensified. It was condemned as the greatest obstacle in the development of women. Acrimonious debates ensued in newspapers, magazines, social circles and public platforms. Army personnel and policemen could cover their bodies with thick uniform and head with heavy helmets and yet the heat in the atmosphere and density of clothes would not interfere in their normal functioning; advocates and judges could don jet black robes even at the height of rge summers and yet the travails of weather would not impede their work; doctors could put thick white aprons without feeling uncomfortable; nurses and nuns’ head-kerchiefs would not hinder their movements; bishops could perform all their celebrated duties wearing extra robes and covering their heads; but women’s freedom of movements would be severely jeopardised, the feminists argued, if they covered their body with some additional piece of cloth.
Nudity needed glorification in order to be popularised and the shame attached to it was to be mercilessly ravished if society had to “develop”. The “Operation Nudity” began with the glorification of nude paintings and graffiti. The artists who marvelled in eroticism were admired as some of the greatest artists of all times for the reason that their compositions were portrayals of “reality” and “beauty”. Films also started presenting woman in her full naked glory in the name of art or reality. The opponents were spurned as the enemies of truth and art. When the money poured in as the result of depiction of truth, truth was eulogized; when it required falsehood it was adored as a work of fiction or creative imagination. The press and the polity too did not lag behind in sensationalising sex. This was often done on the pretext of bringing to light sexual exploitation rampant in society.
Once the people became habitual of watching or perusing nakedness, the merchants of sex started glamorising woman’s body. The glorification of nakedness meant that women who did not hesitate in baring themselves before camera were showered upon with the glamorous epithets of “modern” and “ultramodern”, the scenes in which they appeared without giving trouble to a single piece of cloth or having sexual intimacy with an actor were hailed as “bold” shots. The party culture had already established itself as a sign of highest social status. The presence of gorgeous ladies in revealing costumes added colour and tempo to the get-togethers. The “bold” women continued to multiply in society as their “boldness” brought them fame and glory in addition to wealth. The fashion shows and beauty contests in which the contestants would bare their skin to the sheer delight of the spectators became commoner with every passing year. Such shows would earn the contestants a fortune; the organisers of these extravaganzas would make astronomical dollars and pounds. The Miss Universe and Miss World contests are now organised in different countries, annually. These mega events are telecast live almost all over the world. Pictures of the winners decorate the front pages of the major newspapers. In an obvious attempt to pacify the antagonists, the contestants are asked questions pertaining to their personal inclinations and thoughts. They often in order to arouse outbursts of clapping give answers laced with humanist sentiments. The replies to the probable questions are of course prepared in advance and rehearsed several times. The venues for these mega events are so chosen as to push up market in new areas. This is not without reason that in 1994 suddenly women of India became the most glamorous ladies of the world seizing the Miss Universe as well as the Miss World title. It is also not without reason that the 1996 Miss Universe contest was staged in India and it was preceded by a fortnight by the arrival of Michael Jackson, the greatest dancing star of that time in Mumbai. Obviously, all these events were the outcome of the “open” market policies of the government of India, and India being perhaps the biggest potential market started attracting the multinational companies. To stir up mass hysteria for Western style of living, the satellite TV commenced its operation as soon as the government exhibited willingness to “reform” its economic policies that would suit the market.
The commercialisation of beauty resulted in the staging of exciting cabaret shows in hotels. The customers thronged to the hotels and were prepared to take dinner there rather than inside the sombre environs of their homes. Striptease shows became a fashion. In films, produced even in countries like India, the display of talent by the cabaret dancers became a regular feature. When the people accepted it, the main female characters started appearing in revealing costumes. The erotic magazines had already been doing brisk business in the West. It has now picked up in India with a boom of soft porno magazines in the market some of which have readers in millions.
Prostitution, as its champions put it, is the “oldest profession of the world”. There are historical evidences to testify the existence of the flesh trade in various forms in several countries even in the pre-Christ days. But it must be noted, it was then neither common nor glorified. It was a pastime for a few covetous landlords or ruling elite. The women engaged in the flesh trade were mostly those who somehow either bitten by penury or through the guile of some corrupt relatives had landed in the brothels. They naturally did not enjoy it and exhibited as much resentment and resistance as they could. But once they got bogged in the mine of the “profession”, all the doors for exit were slammed shut upon them. They would become unacceptable to society; the poor girls would ultimately have to live an unfortunate life in the same brothel. In many countries like India, prostitution was limited to dancing and singing. With the bathos of culture in the West, successfully instituted by the economic fundamentalist, sex became a highly profitable business. This is why the advocates of the continuance of prostitution had the impetuosity to call it a “profession” and the women engaged in it “sex workers”. By describing it as the oldest profession, they sought to glorify it and remove whatever stigma was associated with it. But a constant boom in the trade necessitated constant, uninterrupted supply of women as well as rapid multiplication of the customers. Both these essentials required a very different approach towards sex among the masses from what “plagued” the whole world in the medieval age.
The “medieval” approach, as the economic fundamentalists labelled it, was constructed on the foundation of shame. It regarded sex as an essential part of human life. But there were two important premises associated with it. One was that the sexual liaison was an absolutely private function that in no condition whatsoever could be performed in front of a third person whoever he or she was. It followed that the sexually sensuous organs were to be kept away from the public gaze. The other was that the sexual activities were not isolated from the other affairs of life in the sense that the two sexually engaged persons, obviously of the opposite sexes, must also look after each other throughout their lives or at least till they did not decide to separate. Any decision of living together or separating must be duly conveyed to society. Every wife had to confine the relationship called marriage to her husband only. The husband would also normally restrict himself to a single consort: but in special circumstances, he could take more wives. The fidelity in sex was almost sanctimonious and any breach of it was considered to be an act of extreme repugnance that invited not only universal condemnation but also legal punishment. This well-defined approach gave rise to a well-established family system; it was to be defended against all kinds of invasions and kept pure from all the blemishes and profanities. Sex before marriage or outside marriage was uncommon, and anyone indulging in it could do so only clandestinely. The adulterers and fornicators were haunted not only by the fear of social stigmatization and legal punishment but also by God’s indignation. Love affairs used to be there but had mostly only emotional dimensions; sometimes an affair would continue for decades without any physical involvement. Even the slightest inkling of such innocuous emotional relations would send signals of alarm to the families of both who would either arrange for their marriage or would dissuade them from meeting each other.
In the emerging socioeconomic scenario where economics had attained a position ahead of all other branches of the world affairs, the medieval approach was intangible and therefore, intolerable. Society had been left by the high-profile, resourceful, wily and calculative bosses of business with no option but to alter according to the commercial demands. Sex now had to go public; any expression of sexual desire in assemblies, especially, parties and personal meetings at dinner, was regarded as an indomitable act worth celebration. Premarital and extramarital relationships were promptly reconciled as normal social phenomena that had to be understood and accommodated and not countered or punished. The ball dances and disco became an indispensable feature of all high-class parties. In the West, these would be followed by overtures for sex. The inebriated couple would hardly be in any position to resist each other’s sexual advances.
Adultery and fornication were taboo in the past; but the new culture assiduously tried to make marriage itself a taboo. Economic fundamentalism envisaged that the institution of marriage had to be weakened, preferably shattered altogether, to enhance the prospects of many markets including the market of sex. The fundamentalists reckoned that a man in the safe arms of his charming wife would be harder to trap, and a woman in the benign custody of the loving husband would not be easily available for her services. In order to derail the marriage system, a number of steps were taken. The minimum age-limit for marriage, for instance, was raised making it legally impossible for a man and woman to marry before the specified age. The rapid growth of population was presented for public consumption as the ground for this amendment in the law. Boys and girls, denied marriage, were however, always welcome to have sex before the specified age, which did not attract any legal action. Polygamy was abolished and an animated, outrageous, multi-pronged campaign was orchestrated against it wherever it continued to exist. While promiscuity was not illegal which meant that a man’s relationship with any number of women, accompanied with total denial to their social and financial rights, and those of their probable children, was sanctioned, a man was legally forbidden relations with a second woman who enjoyed all the rights of a wife. And the irony is that it was done in the name of the women’s rights. Women themselves, not properly realizing the motive of their “benefactors”, were jubilant in accepting a system wherein they could easily become wretched mistresses or casual partners (without, of course, any legal rights against their paramours) but not second wives (having full conjugal rights). Still another step was the creation of huge legal fallouts of divorce. The extra- marital relationships and self dependence in financial matters combined to result in an increasingly large number of marriages culminating in divorce. The legal stresses faced due to divorce made people reluctant to enter marriages. They would prefer to be boyfriends and girlfriends rather than husbands and wives because the “burden” of marriage, the responsibilities it entailed and the dangers of the complications in case of divorce were enough to dissuade men and women from early marriages. Live-in relationship prospered. They would like to marry only when they decide to have children.
The opponents of polygamy used several other arguments to contend their case. They charged that it was a privilege bestowed on men. It was conveniently forgotten that the incidence of polygamy depended on the ratio of adult men and women in society. Polygamy would increase when there are a greater number of adult women than men and would decrease when this ratio approaches one. It has usually been the case, particularly in war-ravaged countries that the women’s population far outnumbered the men’s population. If every woman’s right to marriage was to be accepted, strict monogamy could not serve the purpose. A controlled polygamy would provide the only answer and this “privilege” of man would then become a boon for deprived women as well. Further, it ensured that no man already married can continue to exploit any other woman on the plea that marrying her was not legally possible. Another argument put forward was that it would increase population. It was again forgotten that the growth of population in a particular community was dependent only on the number of adult, fertile women in that society, and had nothing to do with the number of men they were married to. To give similar right to women (polygamy) would be socially and medically disastrous; for it would not fix the identity of the parents and would result in a tremendous increase in sex-transmitted diseases.
While polygamy continued to become rarer, promiscuity continued to become commoner. Arguments were advanced: if man can have several wives, why should women not be allowed to have several husbands? The facts were conveniently forgotten. Biologically speaking, man has the potential of impregnating as many women as he can engage with in physical relationship. He can father children from innumerable women at almost the same time. Woman cannot have more than a child at one time for at least a period of one year; if she actively breastfeeds her child the gap tends to be much longer, as long as three years. But what man can do in biological terms, he cannot justify in social terms if he has any obligations towards the women he is having sex with. Furthermore, the demographic composition does not allow such vagrancies as the number of men and women are almost equal in society. Women outnumber men only by an extremely thin margin, and this margin is slightly higher in terms of marriage seekers. Islamic position, which makes promiscuity punishable under law but allows a certain degree of polygamy, is consistent with the demographic, social and medical realties. This kind of system successfully acts as an insurmountable barrier between sex-transmitted infections and human bodies.
Polygamy is normally not associated with the sexually transmitted diseases as is the case with promiscuity. The simple reason is that unlike in promiscuity where both men and women have several relationships, mostly casual, in polygamy, man has long-term relations with a few women, which in most cases is limited to two rarely reaching a maximum of four, none of whom has relations with any other man. It follows that whereas polygamy is self-limiting and minimally hazardous in medical terms, promiscuity is all-enveloping and enormously dangerous in terms of risks to health. Further, this is practically impossible for a significant minority to become polygamous, as the demography does not allow it, but it is a distinct possibility that the majority of the population becomes promiscuous. To be precise, polygamy is a self-limiting aberration; promiscuity is an all-enveloping monster. Only a few can practise polygamy because of the demographic unavailability of women if a sizeable percentage wants it; but promiscuity can go on entrapping almost everybody. This has in fact become the truth in a large number of societies that do not put any restrictions on free mixing of men and women. Wherever promiscuity is high, the incidence of sex transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS is significantly high. The safe sex measures have only a limited role in protection against these diseases. While promiscuity provides a natural habitat for these infections, polygamy, even if it becomes widespread, would play minimal role in the spread. The demographic and social realities however would almost always restrict the prevalence of polygamous relationships except when due to some reason the balance markedly tilts in favour of women. In such instances, polygamy would provide the majority of women an opportunity to enjoy their social, sexual and reproductive rights.
The decreasing popularity of marriages and the increasing sexual liberty however posed certain intricate problems. There always hovered over the heads of women the threat of pregnancy. Unless this was nullified, women would resist sexual advances. The guidance was sought from the medical science, which came to their rescue with the idea of condoms. A number of other contraceptive devices were developed and became instantly popular. Women had practically no problem in lying with friends of their choice. But no contraceptive method was absolutely free from failure. Women would often conceive in spite of them. This necessitated legalisation of abortion that was promptly done-- in the name of yet another right, the productive right of Women. Abortion clinics boomed. Artificially induced miscarriages were not however medically advisable in every case; women might report late or might be physically too weak to withstand the associated risks. Occasionally, the mother inside woman would overwhelm her, and she would not let her child be slaughtered by the obstetrician. But it was not easy for a woman to introduce in society a child whose father was unknown. Woman would find herself facing a gruelling ordeal. Her plight was sought to be overcome by glorifying the unwed mothers. To have a baby without undergoing the “travails” of marriage was declared a historical advance in the reproductive rights of women. It hardly bothered them that women who used to share the onus of grooming their children with their husbands would now have to perform the onerous task all alone and that the children would be deprived, perhaps forever, of the affection of their fathers so essential for their normal healthy growth. But the economic fundamentalists had nothing to do with the children and old women because they were less amenable to their business prospects. All they could do for their welfare was the offer of geriatric asylums for the old and baby homes for the children--these too of course would fetch them some money.
The fecundity of sex-market had another irritant that unexpectedly hit it. The tempest of promiscuity and sexual aberrations like homosexuality resulted in the appearance of several serious ailments. The types of such diseases, the severity of their manifestations and the number of patients acquiring these infections exhibited proportionate growth. While the diseases like Gonorrhoea, Chancroid, Lymphogranuloma venereum and Herpes simplex caused great physical discomforts, Syphilis proved to be a killer. Its complications like Neurosyphilis were severely incapacitating and the cardiovascular lesions, more often than not resulted in death. The unavailability of treatment threatened the survival of sex-industry. If it continued to kill or incapacitate people they would be compelled to change their sexual attitudes. The merchants had sleepless nights. The medical science once again came to their rescue. When penicillin was discovered and was found extremely effective against Treponeme palliduim, the bacteria causing Syphilis, they heaved a sigh of relief. It transformed into jubilation at the prospects of an unprecedented success in the sex-market. The time was ideal to begin rejuvenated efforts in that direction. The outcome of these efforts was inception of pornography in Scandinavian countries. Within a few years, it engulfed the whole West. Pornography had dual impact; it became a big business and it would also infuse the watchers with the sexual current who would then, in order to satiate their inflamed passions, throng the brothels or with their girl friends the hotels.
To meet the never-ending demands, the merchants were always ready to offer novelties to the customers. In order to compete with one another and to further swell their coffers, they began to popularise sexual perversions. Oral sex, mass sex, sadism and masochism became common. The unavailability of women in sufficient numbers was a problem. In addition, they noticed homosexual tendencies in some persons. They realise its potential in becoming a big addictions and therefore the potential industry. Homosexuality was therefore introduced. It is not that sodomy did not exist before in history. Several religious scriptures have given grim accounts of how the citizens of the twin cities of Gomorrah and Sodom had become addicts of rectal sex. So prevalent it had in fact become that there were “not even ten righteous persons left in the city” with straight inclinations. (Bible) The twin cities were ultimately 'stoned to death' by way of a tempestuous rain of Sulphur stones from the sky. It is a known fact that homosexuality is still very much there in most of the countries. According to some estimates, 5-10% of males may be having such inclinations. But there is a basic difference between homosexuality rampant in the West and the one in some other countries. In the Islamic and majority of the Asian countries, homosexuality is considered a big sin, even by those who practise it. There is no question at all of glorifying or justifying it and the gays’ associations have only recently been making clandestine appearance in some metropolitan and cosmopolitan cities. In Western countries, on the other hand, it has turned commercial. It is to facilitate business that strong gay movements have been organised, and under their pressure, one government after the other has legalised it. The gay clubs and literature are now booming in almost every city of the Western world. Furthermore, while in Asian countries homosexuality is not usually isolated with most homosexuals also having heterosexual liaisons, in the West, organised gay campaigns have led to exclusive homosexuality. Women too have not remained far behind and lesbianism is also on the increase. The other reasons for giving huge publicity to the gay movements are that it would help in controlling population that occupies a central place in the strategy of the economic fundamentalists and would also accelerate the disintegration of family system.
The merchants of vices have developed a clear strategy to globalise the vices. The first step in the strategy is Normalization, the process by which they seek to make a habit or practice look normal and acceptable. They campaign that there is nothing abnormal about it as a sizeable section feels inclined to engage in them and they cannot be denied freedom of choice. They also try to make it appear as natural and congenital. Institutionalisation is the second step with the emergence of certain organisations campaigning for the freedom in indulging in those vices. Literatures are produced; movements are run on big scales and media are used to further the campaign in a big way. Politicians and activists are directly or indirectly persuaded to accept the demands. Legalisation follows. The argument normally given is that if it was not legalised, it would lead to rise in illegal activities and it would be difficult to manage the resulting complications. It would therefore be prudent to legalise it so that the complications can be kept in control. Once the legal hurdle is removed, commercialisation followed by globalisation gets in full swing. Wealth starts flowing.
This strategy of Normalization, Institutionalisation, Legalisation and Commercialisation was adopted in the case of alcohol, gambling, prostitution and pornography and continues to be the mainstay in the globalisation of homosexuality. The demoniac march of commercialised sex has necessitated that all perversions must be considered “normal and natural” behaviour and any stigma associated with them should be struck with a fatal blow. To outdo one another, the video-makers have been producing blue films exhibiting increasing variety of perverted sex. The chiefs of homosexual net and their cronies have been advancing the nonsense argument that relations between two persons belonging to the same sex are natural as a sizeable percentage of human population has such inclinations. The commercial convenience makes them forget the truth that “natural” and “human” are not synonymous, and a distinction must be made between the two. The natural phenomena always have equipoise and are essentially good for mankind. They defend humans against death, disease and destruction because they are aimed at the common rather than the individual good. Even when they seem to be destructive (natural tragedies), they are the manifestations of an effort on the part of nature to bring back the harmony that has somehow been disturbed. The natural tragedies are therefore aimed at averting bigger tragedies in future. The human tendencies, on the other hand, are generally the result of self-gratification and tend to disturb the natural equilibrium. It is the human (and not natural) weaknesses that have given rise to crimes, diseases and abnormal practices including sexual perversions. If homosexual proclivities are accepted as natural, murderous instincts and tendencies to rape, steal or impinge upon others’ rights must also be termed natural. And if the latter deserve outright condemnation, reform and punishment, the former also require the same treatment.
The ever-expanding designs of the merchants of sex suffered another devastating blow in the early 1980s when the first case of a previously unknown disease, later named Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome or AIDS, was detected in the United States. Within a few years, hundreds of thousands persons in Central Africa, America and many European countries were found carrying the disease. The medical scientists soon recognised that it was a fatal disease and is associated with promiscuity and other abnormal sexual behaviours, particularly the male homosexuality. The merchants, in order to preclude any repercussions on the market, immediately set into action. They commissioned all the resources at their disposal to control the damage. And they have succeeded in their strategy. The panic that had started keeping the clients away from the prostitutes has subsided. A “wonderful” solution to tackle the AIDS-menace has been discovered. It has been given a simple name “safe sex” which denotes that the right method to protect oneself against AIDS is to use a condom during intercourse. It is another matter that while the sales of condoms have increased by leaps and bounds and the devastation of the sex industry has been averted, at least for the time being, the storm of HIV has been steadily hitting one nation after the other. At least the public is calm and satisfied, convinced that gigantic efforts are being made to fight the killer disease. Drug regimens to manage AIDS have been found but it has already consumed tens of millions of men, women and children and will consume similar numbers in the next decade. And the sex industry has already prepared plans to turn sex into a mammoth global industry in the post-AIDS world. Will their dreams be realized, is an open question because there will always remain the possibility of the emergence of new strains of already existing sex-transmitted infections or altogether new infections. Zika virus has already started alarming the world, and the link of Hepatitis B with sex has clearly been established.
As I have said earlier, the family system and sex industry are each other’s detractors. The idea of the family system generates such repugnance in the minds of the economic fundamentalists that they have now begun to arrange for its exequies. Marriages have already become unpopular and the home, at least in the West, is on the brink of total collapse. The merchants decided to drive the final nail in the coffin of the family system by popularising the oldest taboo, the incest. The pornographic and erotic magazines could be seen in increasingly more assertive and provocative style describing the sexual intimacies between brothers and sisters, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, and uncles and nieces; to popularise these, the strategy that has been adopted is to publish questions related to incest in the “problems column”, and to conduct surveys on whether it should be legally and socially sanctioned.
With the menace of aids hunting the customers, sex with minors has picked up. Hundreds of thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 15 are being pitted in the trade. Their delicacies are being barged by the lustful. The alarm has been sounded all over the world, but this again would prove to be a mere eye-wash aimed at keeping the critics at bay. AIDS is in fact being utilised by the traders as a ploy to popularise paedophilia; the pornography involving children is becoming increasingly popular.
The latest trend in the sex-industry seems to be the cashing in on the pronounced sexual aggression of the modern women. The severing of links with the family, the rise in economic fortunes, and the brainstorming sexual images created by the media are bolstering women’s craze for handsome men. The modern woman is now not only interested in serving male desires, but also seeks to realize her own fantasies with a man of her choice. The near-nude pictures of men too have now started appearing in the erotic publications. The world may soon witness burgeoning of clubs where the services of males would be available for vagrant females wishing to squander money for mollifying the inferno of their wild sexual passions. Male nude shows are already being staged in some parts of the western world to exclusively solicit women viewers.
Sex has established such an unrivalled dominance in today’s business-world that it seems to have become indispensable for virtually every industry. The fashion, the tourism, the hotel, the publications, the films and the electronic industries are relying heavily on sex to boost their turnovers. Tourism has in fact emerged as the biggest financial activity with which the flesh trade is directly associated. To cater to the ever-growing demands of tourists, young boys and girls are being pooled into the trade in alarming numbers. A large number of people travel to distant places only to propitiate their lascivious self; sightseeing is only an alibi. Tourism also helps in corrupting the minds of the young generation in those countries where the freedom of sex has not yet touched the Western levels. The alcohol industry is also thriving on the close links between tourism and sex. Big hotels with bars are sprawling all over.
The film industry since its inception has used love as the central theme in most of its productions. In the earlier movies, love was portrayed only as a sentimental affair; if physical intimacies had to be depicted, it would be mainly through suggestions. With the progress of time, sex has overpowered love. There is display of nudity in varying degrees and sexual acts are being filmed in a highly provocative manner. The Hollywood films, for over a half century, have been studded with ecstatic scenes of love; now the films produced in Bollywood too, despite the Censor Board, have been showing the characters in revealing dresses and “bold” scenes. The soft porn films, imported from the West, are now being screened in all the cities of India. The contents of these films are extremely “sexciting”, obviously charging the spectators with wild and vulgar fantasies; in order to ease their electrified passions, many of them slip to the red light areas. The porn films too are easily available on internet. Among the watchers are mostly the young and being unmarried they tend to satiate their thirst through immoral and unhealthy means.
The sex industry at the global level has become so colossal that billions are involved in it. The industry, from all the available indications, can be expected to continue to sparkle, unless of course a worldwide drive is initiated against it or a sex-transmitted killer disease forces the people to seek refuge in the haven of the “old-tradition” family set-up. Corresponding to its accelerated growth the social and moral values will continue to alter, mostly for the worse. The social transformation has and will have little to do with the objective merits of the new values; only the commercial considerations will remain the predominant guiding factor. The pharaohs of market will continue to rule the roost, and economic fundamentalism will have no difficulty in perpetrating its supremacy in the world affairs.
Knowledge, since antiquity, has been regarded as precious by men irrespective of the geographical area of the earth they belong to. Various civilizations that flourished thousands of years back in different parts of the world had prospered only due to the commanding presence of knowledgeable and talented persons in their constituent population. The prophets and sages have always been marshalling the people with invaluable instructions for the betterment of life. Even if many of them had not been literate in the sense that they could not peruse and scribble their ability to admire knowledge was outstanding. With the march of time, the importance of gaining knowledge in a systematic manner called education has not only grown, it has indeed become indispensable for every man and woman. It has ceased to be confined to the elite and now attracts the urban and the rural people alike. The standard of education has varied from time to time and from area to area. But an educated person has almost always enjoyed a status embellished with dignity, honour and eminence. In the ancient times, India, Greece, Egypt, China and Babylon had made gigantic efforts in the fields like mathematics, ethics, history and philosophy. In the recent past, first the Muslims of Arab and then the Christians of Europe and America have given tremendous impetus to educational pursuits. All the branches of education are multiplying rapidly. Philosophy, Theology, Mathematics and Medicine ware already present in the medieval period in inchoate or developing stages. Then emerged subjects like Astronomy, Algebra, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Anatomy. The modern times have introduced hundreds of ramifications including Evolution, Genetics, Astrophysics, Computer Sciences, specialised surgeries and Nuclear Physics. And the list is steadily lengthening.
Before the emergence of economic fundamentalism in all the affairs of society, education served as a means to build personality in terms of morals and character. Its goal was to develop a penchant for what is good and aversion for what is bad for society and oneself. It used to inculcate a sense of self-righteousness, sacrifice and service. The pupils were trained by the teacher so as to prepare them to indefatigably instruct and help others to the best of their abilities. The more educated a person the more he was supposed to be honest, truthful and imprudent; he was expected to be inexorable against the barricades of worldly desires. For most of the learned, physicians, philosophers, writers and poets, money was at the most a secondary consideration; their primary aim used to be to disseminate information and to support the needy. Many of them would labour day and night to serve others. What they looked for and gained in bargain was neither the coins and gifts nor luxuries of life but self-satisfaction and dignified status in society. Many of them displayed indomitable courage in the face of compelling circumstances and led crusades against the evils prevailing in their times; they of course had to face severe persecution at the hands of the perpetrators of injustice, suppression and exploitation. Their faith in the Creator or in their own conscience would imbue them with astounding tolerance and inscrutable endurance and they would not be perturbed or crestfallen in the face of direct challenges. They would not compromise a rudder even when death stared at them or starvation threatened their survival; they would prefer to kiss martyrdom rather than embrace the worldly glory. So much was the charisma of their untainted character that even the hardened criminals, diehard apostates and perverts would exhibit strong will to undergo total transformation following a solitary contact with them; their savage ribaldry would evaporate and a person who always used to scheme how to loot and kill others would be prepared to sacrifice all his physical and material belongings for the sake of mankind. The influence of education was also discernible in the attitude of common people towards the weak, the poor and the deprived; people were always keen to help them. The teacher-taught relationship used to have a healthy sentimental hue. The students would be severely punished by the teachers at their slightest foibles and yet their love and respect of the students for them would never get diluted. The students knew that if the teachers beat them with cane, there was no mala fide intention behind their act and they were genuinely interested in reforming and civilising them.
An environment in school and colleges that focuses on character-building and inculcates ideas of simple living in the minds of the grooming boys and girls was but an absurdity in the eyes of the economic fundamentalists. They realized pretty well that the school days had the biggest impact on the mind-set of the students, and once their propinquity matured, riposte would be extremely difficult. The rising popularity of education in the masses further strengthened their resolve to hijack it. Their game-plan had two basic components. First, they had an eye on the prospects of education, which could yield a new market. Second, they wished to train the students on a specific pattern that would build their personality not as person of high morals but as skilled managers and salesmen, efficient workers and excellent consumers. So, whatever different routes of progress in the march of economic fundamentalism have been described in previous pages, were also imposed on schools and colleges. Formerly, the syllabus contained a sizeable quota of religious instructions and moral education. The emeritus of religion from society meant that the religious contents were steadily banished from the curriculum. The inspiring tales of saints and reformers were replaced by exciting love legends. The stories of Romeo and Juliet, Sheereen and Farhad and Laila and Majnu became immensely popular among the students. The only form of male-female relationship that was projected was love-affair; the emerging literature had no interest in mother-son, brother-sister and father-daughter relationship; these had very little commercial prospects.
The tone and contents of education continued to undergo steady transformation. The moral sciences were substituted by the nature sciences. It will be discussed later in this book how science was projected as anti-religion. Later, the subjects related with Economics and Commerce started entering the syllabi. Subjects like History, Theology and Civics have now become outmoded. The management courses are gaining in currency because by studying these courses the prospects of getting lucrative jobs considerably enhance. The professional courses have become bereft of any ethical contents; they inculcate sheer commercialism. The industry-related courses like fashion-designing, hotel management, beauty care, etc. are understandably prospering.
Thus the education that in the past had a distinct egalitarian touch and was not necessarily linked with financial objectives has now become vastly commercialised. The modern liberal social values, the aetiology of which has already been reviewed, have been successively introduced into schools and colleges. It began with the concept of co-education, first at the primary, then at the secondary and finally at the university level. The skirt became the prescribed dress for girls in most of the school. Covering heads is almost a taboo now and in the Western countries the insistence of some girl-students on covering their heads has many a time hit international headlines. To be impudent enough to reveal one’s anatomy to the delight of the watchers is defended as an individual right that should be respected at all costs but the right to cover oneself is nowhere appreciated; it in fact attracts derision and ridicule. A lady opting for it in a Western educational institution is jeered at as a backward, boorish, medieval woman cut off from the new social realities. The arrangements of picnics and educational tours in degree colleges and universities further aggravate the chances of uninhibited intimacies between the two sexes.
The goal of education having been incarcerated to finances, the boys and girls opt for recherché courses, their choice usually depending upon the economic future expected. The courses that lead to services giving attractive emoluments and lucrative perks are pursued by the more brilliant students. The boys and girls belonging to the industrial families often join courses to get acquainted with the nuances of business, management and technology. After finishing their apprenticeship, they establish their own factories or companies. Money is the ultimate target; morals have no pecuniary prospects, at least in the immediate future. Ethics therefore occupy no place in their scheme of things. The professional courses emblazon the students with unadulterated professionalism. This means that they must learn how to present oneself or one’s products or company so that the business can achieve big heights. The education thus, in effect, trains how best to infatuate others, to push one’s own interests, to keep the seamier side covered, to enhance market potential by innovative tactics and to cash in on people’s susceptibilities, leanings, sentiments and desires. The products of modern education are destined to become a part of the grand design of the big merchants and manufacturers who need managers, supervisors, sales-persons and marketing executives for their companies. The students must receive training in their educational career befitting their requirements. It is hardly surprising therefore that the modern educated class experiences a feeling of neither any reluctance before nor any compunction after lying, misinforming, cheating, bribing (or getting bribed) and slandering others. These have in fact become essential paraphernalia of a successful businessman, business executive or officer. The ‘education’ only instils confidence and sophistication for pursuing their activities with perfection.
The erotomania generated in the boys and girls by the commercialisation of sex necessitated some precautions. Sex education entered the curriculum early in the West. Efforts are now on for its introduction in all the schools and colleges throughout the world. Ostensibly, this aims at effacing from the minds of adolescent boys and girls misconceptions and misgivings about sex. But behind the facade, there are other more compelling interests. The galloping sexual freedom gives rise to several noisome (physical and psychological) complications. These include sexually transmitted diseases some of which are life threatening, fear of pregnancy and social stigmatization. Many social and health organisations have shown concern over these developments. The merchants and their cronies as always have stepped in demanding the introduction of sex education at the college, even school-level. This, they visualize, would considerably diminish the magnitude of the problem hoping that if and when the adolescents indulge in sex they would take necessary precautions. This suits the interests of big business because an open discussion on sex in the classrooms would further boost the concept of sexual liberty. The boys and girls would develop what is regarded as healthy sexual attitude, which in the West connotes absence of any emotional hindrances in having sex with anybody of one’s choice and ability to take necessary precautions in order to avoid an unwanted pregnancy and troublesome infections. Such a “healthy sexual attitude”, in their reckoning, is imperative for the sustenance of today’s global sex market.
Not only have the ideological foundations of education become predominantly commercial, the institutions themselves have also been transformed into business centres. The impact of commercialisation has been such that the schools, colleges and professional institutions have been multiplying rapidly during the last few decades. The paediatric needs of children are being bulldozed and the parents are being bamboozled to send their little kids, who are in no physical and mental position to withstand the burden imposed on them, to schools. Formerly, the schooling used to commence with class one. Then the ‘kindergarten’ was added which again was divided into ‘K.G. first’ and ‘second’. It was then followed by the introduction of nursery and pre-nursery classes. There are certain schools where pre-pre-nursery is also available. The owners of schools have distinct advantages in increasing the number of classes, for it shoots up the number of students enhancing their income. They successfully exploit the desires of parents to give their children the best education and also the problem of the working women who find it expedient to send their kids to schools as early as possible. These developments also suit the big business and they therefore wholeheartedly support them. The earlier the children go to schools the more the parents spend on their dresses, shoes etc. The rise in the number of working women has led to the booming of ‘baby-sitter schools’. The new trend means that the kids of three, even two years, are now compelled to go to schools. At the time of admissions and in the following days, often for weeks, the yells and screams of children are audible from a considerable distance.
As a corollary to commercialization, pompousness has become the hallmark of “standard” institutions. In order to attract the elite, very high annual fees are charged and in return they are promised highly sophisticated teaching for their children. In countries belonging to Indian subcontinent, the craze among the elite for English has helped the merchants of education to establish highly advanced and suave academies (where the students would speak nothing but English) charging astronomical fees. The rich prefer these schools as it pampers their elitist mentality and they are able to maintain their inflated status in society.
The privatisation of education has now also encompassed the higher academic and professional courses. Many a time the institutions are established either by the big business houses themselves or with their financial support with the objective of producing stuff suitable for the specific demands of their industries. The Engineering, Management and Medical colleges administered by the private organisations are swelling in number all over the world. Many of these institutions are substandard and their only aim is to provide degrees to those students who are not competent enough to compete in the well-established institutions but their parents are in a position to donate handsome amounts in order to help their sons and daughters receive professional qualifications. This appeases their ego and also assists them in their future plans. In countries like India, Privatisation of Higher Education has in effect led to Reservation of the Rich in colleges and jobs.
The environment in the present day colleges and universities is consistent with the interest of industries in great many respects. Coeducation has bred exhibitionist proclivities among students who wear costly dresses and shoes and use high priced perfumes to gain popularity among the fellow students. In university campuses, boys and girls can be easily found gloating at one another. Consequent on their craze for music and films, they tend to dissipate their money on watching films on mobiles and laptops. Hardly a minuscule percentage of university and degree college students develop academic brilliance. The overwhelming majority is consumed by the consumerist culture assiduously pushed by the economic fundamentalists. This money comes from their parents and often against their wish causing great chagrin to their minds. Sometimes, when the parents are not in a position to afford their huge extravagances, or are reluctant to part with their hard-earned wealth, these boys and girls choose their own ways, proper or risqué, to earn; they often join the illegal and immoral businesses like betting.
Describing how the modern education has become a hindrance in achievement of real happiness, Mill says:
“The happiness which they (the philosophers who thought that happiness is the end of life) meant was not a life of rapture; but moments of such, in an existence made up of few and transitory pains, many and various pleasures, with a decided predominance of the active over the passive, and having as the foundation of the whole, not to expect more from life than it is a capable of bestowing. A life thus composed, to those who have been fortunate enough to obtain it, has always appeared worthy of the name of happiness, And such an existence is even now the lot of many, during some considerable portion of their lives. The present wretched education and wretched social arrangements are the only real hindrance to its being attainable by almost all”.
The present era is regarded as the era of science. This owes to the fact that science has made astonishing progress in the 19th and 20th centuries in many fields. In the medieval age, the Islamic world used to be the centre of scientific rummages. Astronomy, Algebra, Anatomy, Medicine, Chemistry, Trigonometry, Architecture, Biology and many other disciplines had quite a few distinguished scholars who had established big libraries in cities like Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus and Constantinople. When the Christian Europe was submerged in the gloom of ignorance, knowledge had been enlightening the Muslims of Asia, Africa and Muslim Europe (Spain, Turkey, Czechoslovakia, etc). When London and Paris had no roads, Mecca and Medina had well-developed highways. The military equipment possessed by the Muslim Caliphs also outclassed and outnumbered the outdated weapons of the Christians kings. The countries like China and India too were passing through the darkest periods of their otherwise glorious civilisation. The rising political power of Muslims had sounded alarm in the Christian kingdoms. The recurrent defeats had compelled the Christian rulers to attempt unification of all forces and generate religious fervour in the Christian ranks. Power, on the other hand, as has repeatedly occurred in the human history, started depraving the Muslim kings. The universal ideology of Islam had been largely outdistanced by the nationalistic sentiments; the denizens of each territory longed to have their own sovereign state totally independent of the central Caliphate. These diversions emboldened the European rulers to engage them in increasing battles. The crusades, despite the early defeats, continued. The ultimate outcome of the crusades followed by the Renaissance was the emergence of big powers in Europe. The Islamic Caliphate had begun to crumble; its defloration was accompanied by the appearance of several weak and independent states. The political strife distracted the attention of monarchs from the necessity of scientific exploration which showed a distinct decline. The scientific literature accomplished by the Arabs and Persian scholars was utilised by the Christians researchers of Europe for further development. It undoubtedly goes to their credit that they incessantly laboured hard to unfold the mysteries of nature and expounded theories to explain the natural phenomena. From the eighteenth century onwards, their domination of the world of science was indefeasible. France, Britain and Germany had emerged as major political forces and they had realized that the accelerated development in science and technology was a sine qua non for sustaining their supremacy. Later on, America, China and Russia joined the race. The scientists were provided necessary encouragement and material resources; they obliged by producing new discoveries and inventions at regular intervals. The West soon visualised an economic revolution with the help of new technologies. This spawned an era of industrialisation. The manufacturing of items of practical utility in bulk began. The determination of physical forces and mechanical laws led to the production of vehicles. Buses, trucks, trains and motorcars started pacing the earth with great speed, ships sailed through the oceans and the aircraft conquered the sky. The scientific revolution continued to sweep the world. The researches in the field of electricity and magnetism resulted in the availability of an alternative source of energy capable of lifting human life to new heights. The bulb came and soon myriads of electrical items -- tubes, fans, coolers, heaters and electric motors of different kinds started entering the houses and factories. The discovery of radio waves revolutionised communication. Came radios, telephones and telegraphs followed by television, fax and many other usable. The twentieth century witnessed many a quantum jump with the electronic and computer revolutions. The researches in the field of physics, chemistry and biology were utilised in medical fields with dazzling results, making the treatment of a large number of diseases possible. The X-ray, the ultrasound and the computerised investigations now assist the clinicians in diagnosing the ailments with precision. The nuclear physics has not only provided another alternative source of energy but has also helped the medical scientists to devise treatment of the deadly cancers.
The progress of the medical science has been remarkably outstanding. The communicable diseases like cholera, kala azar and plague that used to strike in epidemics, often decimating the whole of localities, have largely been controlled, small pox has been totally eradicated, polio myelitis is on the verge of eradication and potent antibiotics are now available to combat other life-threatening infections like septicaemia, meningitis, subacute bacterial endocarditis etc. Anti-tubercular and anti-leprosy drugs have revolutionised the treatment of tuberculosis and leprosy. The surgery has also been marching ahead; the open heart surgery is now performed in almost all major cities of the world, the kidneys are regularly transplanted, the cataracts are operated upon even in camps organised in villages, and the brain surgery is becoming commoner. The obstetric surgeries save the lives of millions of women who had very bleak chances of survival without surgery.
The advancement in various fields of physics has now made it possible for the viewers to watch live events occurring in distant corners of the earth. A person can talk on telephone to another person living anywhere in the world. Man has already landed on the moon, and many more missions are in operation to uncover the mysteries of the cosmos.
The West deserves ovation for the amazing advancement in science that the world has experienced during the last few centuries. It has undoubtedly helped man to overcome a large number of problems. Western scholars are worthy of encomiums for their tireless, selfless and dedicated efforts to determine and apply natural forces and resources for the benefit of mankind. They successfully imbued the 19th century with a scientific temper in human approach. But alas, this scientific spirit did not last long. The concourse of scientific development and economic fundamentalism after some time positioned the latter in the driver's seat. The scientists were naive and guileless people. They could not decipher their enormous potential as the ultimate guides for society and could not muster the courage, conviction, desire and wit required to thwart the onslaught of the economic fundamentalists who were full of intrigues and used their money power to take control of almost all the departments of social existence. While the scientists toiled day and night at the expense of their comfort without receiving much in return, their inventions and discoveries were hijacked by the merchants for their own upgrading. If they had done so without disturbing the delicate environmental and social balance, it could not have been as devastating as it ultimately turned out to be. What the earth had to see and bear was the most blatant misuse of scientific and technical information for the sake of money. Thus the amazing source of energy, the nuclear, was misused for manufacturing nuclear bombs capable of decimating the whole of mankind; the atomic bombs were hurled on the innocent citizens of two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, murdering millions of men, women and children, and crippling, forever, as many. Other highly destructive weapons -- combat aircraft, missiles, chemical bombs, etc. came into the hands of man; the aim behind their development was to impose the uncanny will of certain powers on the rest of the world so that they may be forced to surrender to their economic plans. The business houses started using advanced equipments to boost their sales. Cameras are now used to take pictures of persons in the nude, and the electronic equipments are used to dispatch vulgarity and shamelessness in the houses of the common people. The technology is misused to loot and plunder in the name of fashion. People are made addicts of insalubrious or highly damaging items; they are made to drink the undrinkable, and eat the uneatable. The precious time of men, women and children is killed with indecent, nonsense programmes.
Consequent on the blind race for money, what has suffered most is health -- physical, mental and social. While the medical scientists have persisted in their efforts to find out the aetiologies and remedies of the various health problems, the magnates have been incessantly engaged in popularising whatever suits their interests irrespective of their impact on human health. And the tragedy is that the medical scientists too have lately become mere tools in their hands. They sometimes resist, but subdued as they are in disposition, their viewpoint is published only in medical journals. If at all it becomes public, the merchants find alternative ways to submerge it into oblivion. The medical world is not dynamic enough to aggressively push its concerns through. The problem has been further compounded by the privatisation of medical institutions and research laboratories. The industries are now buying medical specialists for their own ends. They have the money power to lure experts who too seem to have found a heavenly haven in the garden of materialism.
The callousness of medical experts and the passive nature of the medical education have strengthened the resolve of the economic fundamentalists to market everything the demand for which already exists or can be created through high-pitched propaganda without being least bothered about the adverse effects on the individual, family and social wealth. The medical scientist has proved unequal to the dire challenges of the bazaar. Thus, first, tea and coffee hit the shops and such was the quality of the campaign to popularise them that they rapidly assumed the status of household beverages. The medical world was seized with the health problems related with these developments and pointed out that coffee had undesirable effects on heart, nervous and gastrointestinal systems. It is now well established that they are significant aetiological factors in the rising incidence of heart attacks, peptic ulcers and certain neurological problems. Yet, their social glorification continues. The tobacco and cigarettes of various tastes then entered the market. These have become symbols of high standard with increasingly large numbers of people becoming addicted to smoking. To multiply their demands, women too who previously were disinclined to smoking were also encouraged. Doctors have declared in unequivocal terms that smoking is not just harmful but is extremely dangerous to health. They have established that cigarettes cause lung cancer, which still remains almost incurable, bronchitis and asthma causing severe distress in breathing and are a significant factor in the development of coronary heart diseases. Each one of these diseases is either fatal or severely crippling Similarly, tobacco has been associated with mouth cancer, which is incurable except when it is detected very early and Buerger’s disease, a disease of the veins of legs that may lead to gangrene of the foot. But all these caveats have failed in discouraging smoking. The doctors are not assertive enough to pressurise parliaments and assemblies to pass bills proscribing the production and sales of cigarettes, cigars and tobacco. Instead, the doctors themselves have succumbed to the propaganda by the manufacturers and their henchmen. It is a sad fact that a sizeable percentage of doctors do smoke. The female smokers are rapidly on the rise despite the accumulating evidence that smoking habit badly damages the health of their children.
Similarly, such has been the glorification of alcohol that any person trying to prove his credentials in society has to serve drinks to his visitors, especially on the occasions of celebrations. The medical science informs in categorical terms that alcohol is damaging to the health of a man whatever the amount imbibed. Yet, with the support of some partisan investigators, it has been campaigned that alcohol is harmless in small doses; some have gone to the extent that they have declared it beneficial for the heart, capable of increasing a specific kind of cholesterol that seems to have a soothing effect on the cardiovascular system. It need not be said that most of these advocacies have been chiefly guided by the financial motives and have little to do with the medical truth; at the most they are truncated facts. What the medicine tells is that once a person starts taking alcohol, the level at which the desired euphoria is attained rapidly increases necessitating an increased intake. No person becomes an addict the day he or she smokes the first cigarette or takes the first sip of bear, whisky, rum or wine. All the present addicts had small beginnings and the ones who introduced it to them had convinced them that these were injurious only if taken in huge amounts and regularly. It is very well known that alcoholism may lead to fatal diseases like cirrhosis and korsakoff“s psychosis and has a damaging impact on almost all the organs of the body. It disturbs the power of reasoning, thus leading to crimes, accidents and suicides. Alcohol, directly or indirectly, kills millions of people every year, destroys innumerable families and leads to countless rapes. It causes severe financial losses to the well-established individuals who often get ruined on account of their intemperate drinking habits. Divorces are common outcome, and the wives and children of habitual drinkers have to pass their lives in an environment of extreme fear, insecurity and tension. Children too often start drinking in their teens. The party culture coupled with women’s propinquity to try their hands at whatever men do as manifestations of ‘equality’ and the encouragement by men for their own rejoicing have made alcohol popular among women too.
As has already been discussed, the campaign for freedom of sex is a direct product of economic fundamentalism. The medical science has been a mute spectator to sexual waywardness despite the incontrovertible fact that it causes no less mortality and morbidity than do smoking and drinking. In many ways, its effects are even more dangerous. Time and again, the epidemics or endemics caused by promiscuity or sexual perversions have hit the mankind. Many of them have proved to be devastating killers. Syphilis was the first sex-produced disease that killed people in large numbers. The homosexuals and the promiscuous heterosexuals were the common victims. Syphilis is a bacterial infection that leads to severe cardiovascular and neurological complications; before the discovery of penicillin, death was not an uncommon end. Up till 1940, it was a major disease in Europe and the US. The incidence in 1943 in the US was about 4 per 1000 population. Despite the availability of highly efficacious antibiotics and tremendous fall in the number of cases in 1975, there were still more than 25,000 cases of primary and secondary syphilis, and 26,000 cases of early latent syphilis were reported. The number of unreported cases was presumed to be several times greater. The gynaecologists and obstetricians in Indian subcontinent still regard syphilis as one of the major causes of repeated miscarriages and get VDRL test routinely done in all the females with a past history of abortion. Chancroid, Gonorrhoea, Lymphogranuloma venereum, Herpes and Reiter’s disease are other sexually transmitted diseases having varying severity and often, producing crippling complications.
When the discovery of Penicillin was announced, the sex-merchants had heaved a sigh of relief. A new thrust to the sex market was then observed in the West. Thus the historical achievements of the medical experts were usurped by the tycoons to push their own stratagems, in spite of the unambiguous warning that uninhibited sex had, always, an inherent tendency to produce new infections. And when the sex-bazaar had touched new heights, it received another concussion in the form of AIDS. AIDS had the potential to paralyse the industry for ever. But within a short course of time, lines of the campaign were drawn. It was decided to emphasise the use of condoms (“safe sex”), so that the sex-industry remained intact, at the same time, expanding the market of condoms. What the world has witnessed in the last decade is the emergence of a condom culture; it has not remained incarcerated in the Western countries, and pervades every society of the world.
Economic fundamentalism in the medical world has percolated right down to the lowest level. The pharmaceuticals thrive on the spread of diseases and so do the doctors, the owners of the nursing homes and hospitals and the paramedical personnel. Prevention has therefore been able to grasp much less attention than cure; for prevention, especially the primary prevention (that can be defined as avoidance of such activities and attempts to prevent such environmental conditions to emerge and grow as may be conducive to the development of diseases) is perilous for their commercial interests. Secondary prevention (that can be defined as prevention of diseases through the use of certain materials, medicines, vaccines, or equipments), on the other hand, has received greater attention because it may be beneficial for the industries. While the mouth hygiene and body hygiene have been emphasised upon as these propel the sales of thousands of varieties of tooth-brushes, toothpastes, lotions, soap, sanitary pads etc., a term like ‘sexual hygiene’ has found no mention anywhere; for, if sexual hygiene (that means having sex only with one’s spouse, avoiding rectal and oral sex, and sex during menses and immediate postnatal period) is popularised, the sex-market would crash. Hence, only the secondary preventive methods that invariably indicate use of condoms were chosen to allay the fears of the promiscuous and pervert men and women. The odour emanating from the mouth of a person not properly brushing his teeth gives sleepless nights to the industries but the foul smell from the mouth of smokers and drinkers have never caused any alarm. The health of mouth and skin (that is to be kept healthy through creams, lotions and powders) has always kept them worried but not that of liver, heart, brain and lungs. The death and destruction on a much greater scale due to alcoholism have never bothered them. Similarly, the problems due to the steady increase in human population has been a matter of huge importance necessitating world-wide campaign; but the much greater and severer problems owing to the rapid increase in the population of vehicles have not even come to their notice. Such indeed has been the perfection with which the economic fundamentalists have been promoting their plans that their interests may be easily visualised in almost all the campaigns being pushed by the government or international agencies.
Few will disagree with the fact that the medical profession too has become totally commercialised. It has ceased to be a profession the primary objective of which was to alleviate the suffering of the sick without expecting money, power or fame in return. It is now only a business, pure business, which aims to exploit the sufferance of men, women and children. But doctors cannot be blamed for the ugliness of this situation because they are a part of society that admires only the wealthy and the famous. Most of the students, quite often following the persuasion by their parents and elders, choose their profession not to serve mankind nor for any spiritual elevation but only in the hope of pocketing easy money and high status in society. And the hard fact that it has no more remained easy to earn money as a medical professional, without first expending sizeable sums for completing the medical courses and then investing millions for establishing clinics and nursing homes, has metamorphosed the professionals and servers into merchants. To make up for their investments, they have no option but to charge high fees from the patients and to extract money from them by advising admission in the nursing homes and expensive tests even when they are not required.
The pharmaceuticals have played a major role in the commercial turnaround of the medical profession. They misappropriate information collected by the dedicated pharmacologists for their own interests. The newer medicines are periodically added to the market, and such are their marketing skills that the doctors immediately start prescribing them without understanding their pharmaceutical details, even in those cases where the old, time-tested medicines can better serve the purpose and without caring for the pocket of the patient. The newer medicines are invariably costlier increasing the turnover of the manufacturers. Such injudicious use of drugs has reached extremely high level because the pharmaceuticals thrive on this. They have enough marketing acumen to divert petty shares of their huge income to the medical practitioners in the form of gifts, samples, commissions and cocktail parties. The man inside a doctor is weak enough to be pleased with these presents and offers. To enthral the practitioners, the pharmaceutical companies use their best-trained salesmen and marketing executives; no wonder then that lately the charm of the fair sex is being recruited to successfully represent the companies.
At the highest level, the expertise of the professors and scientists are misused to assist the government and the industrialists in making policies that more often than not are complimentary to one another. Thus, when the liberalisation of sex posed problems by way of unwanted pregnancies, the medical experts came to the rescue of concupiscent men and women providing them a number of effective contraceptive methods including abortion. Similarly, when the growth of population was sought to be controlled, the newer and more advanced contraceptive techniques were put into practice. Surgery was not only commissioned for abortions but also for tubectomies and vasectomies. The economic fundamentalists had enough cogency to entice the saviours into believing that the abortion did in no way tantamount to killing; for the sake of women’s reproductive rights and for the sake of mankind, it had become unavoidable. No doctors advanced the argument that once a human being comes into existence, none -- not even the parents on whom it depends for several years -- has the right to deny it the right to be born and grow. The duty of a doctor is to save and not to kill anybody; if killing an infant is ghastly, killing a foetus is ghastlier.
The emergence of social and preventive medicine (also called community medicine or public health) as one of the important disciplines of medical science has as much to do with economic fundamentalism as with the health of society. Here it is the medicine that is used to propel social and economic policies, and not vice versa, formulated, separately or in tandem, by the secretaries of the government and the tycoons of the industry. The secretaries, in fact, act as connoisseurs of the big business. The population control, the AIDS control and the control of communicable diseases -- all these programmes have been fine-tuned to suit or adjust the market forces. If, endeavours have been, and are being, made to eradicate small pox, chicken pox, polio, rabies and other such diseases, for which vaccines are available, it is because no medical cures are available for them in the market, and vaccines can be sold on a much higher scales, if the government and other agencies working in social fields are properly convinced of their importance. This has been one of the ways to pull back the money which the government might have exacted in the form of taxes, or the agencies might have collected as donations from the rich. The ostensible human spirit behind these programmes would vanish in a few moments, once alternative ways having bigger market potential are found.
It also happens that a few partisan research reports are used to introduce a new product in the market. When the milk powders were first marketed on a large scale, an impression was deliberately created that the powder-milk was more salubrious for children as it contained the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. The propensity of young women to maintain their figures was also banked upon. They were made to believe that breast feeding could damage the shape and contour of their breasts. The campaigns tremendously enhanced the sales of milk powders. The children suffered and the industry thrived. Thanks to the paediatricians who have exhibited greater dedication and wisdom than the other medical specialists, after a lapse of few years the campaign for breast feeding again picked up. Another factor that has helped in the rejuvenation of interest in breast feeding has been its contraceptive role. The population control programme has been extremely dear to the economic fundamentalists. Similarly, in the marketing strategy for vanaspati ghee and refined oil, the fear of increase in cholesterol level was used with astonishing effect. The people, conscious of their cardiovascular health and frightened with the possibility of death due to hypertension, heart attacks, and cardiovascular strokes, have been readily responsive to these campaigns replacing the animal ghee first with the vegetable ghee and then with the refined oil. It does not bother the industrialists that the reports in favour of the refined oils may not have been fully substantiated and may ultimately prove, as happened in the case of milk powder, premature; by that time, they would have earned billions.
Community medicine, as has been said earlier, is often misused to ensure that the interests of big industries are not jeopardised. The world organisations working in the field of public health like the WHO, World Population Fund, UNICEF, etc. seem to have been established less with the objective of saving the people from diseases, death and destruction and more with the aim of safeguarding the economic fundamentalists. These organisations may or may not accept it publicly but the truth is that a certain game-plan can be deciphered in almost all their campaigns. It is certainly not without reason that the likes of the animated, high-cost and worldwide movements that have been regularly run for the eradication of smallpox, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, rabies, etc., have not been planned for the eradication of malaria, tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhoea, amoebiasis and worm infestations, in spite of the fact that the latter have been responsible for more mortalities and morbiditiesthan the former. The diseases in the first group have no medical cure and the vaccines developed can be best sold through public health programmes. The diseases in the second group on the other hand have medical treatment available in the market and the eradication of these diseases would cause high losses to the pharmaceuticals where manufacturing and marketing of antibiotics, anti-tubercular drugs, anti-malarials, anti-amoebiasis, anti-pyretics and anti-spasmodics fetch billions of dollars every year. This is also why the international organisations continue to pressurise the developing countries for adopting more effective population control measures and running big vaccination programmes but they hardly ever raise issues of sanitation.
It is also not without ulterior motives that the secondary prevention is stressed and primary prevention mercilessly side-lined. Campaigns at national and international level are launched only for secondary prevention. The programmes of the nature of primary prevention such as maintenance of sanitary conditions, anti-mosquito drives, avoidance of promiscuity, smoking, drinking, gambling etc. are either not initiated at all or if the enormity of the problem compels them to take some action, it is at a substantially lower scale. The primary prevention obviously is inimical to the market forces because it can lead to momentous damage to the production. Even the illiterate know that low sanitary conditions are responsible for the majority of diseases in the developing countries. Yet, no projects of the intensity and magnitude of the “Pulse Polio” or smallpox eradication campaigns are prepared and implemented to improve sanitation in the rural and suburban localities.
The study of the Western Model of AIDS prevention programme being pursued all over the world leaves an unmistakable impression that it has been designed keeping in view the commercial interests of the business world where sex, with all its ramifications, has become a colossal industry. The scale of the commercialisation of sex can be gauged from the estimated figures that Mumbai alone has more than seventy thousand “sex-workers”. Each of them entertains, on an average, eight clients daily. It means more than half million men visit prostitutes in a single day in a single city. A high percentage of the sex-workers have been found to be HIV positive. Hundreds of thousands of males are exposed to HIV virus one day. While the sex-barons are sincerely interested that the disease was controlled as quickly as possible because it threatens their survival, they do want it to be done in a manner that causes the least damage to their business. Consequently, the whole emphasis in anti-AIDS programmes, at least before the emergence of antiviral drugs, has been centred on “safe sex”. The so called safe sex is doubly advantageous for the sex-industry. First, it does not forestall people from getting enjoyment from sexual “recreation:. Second, it helps boost the sale of condoms. An overwhelming majority of the anti AIDS messages exhort the people to use condoms during sex rather than avoid liaisons with anybody other that one’s marriage-partner. The result of this strategy is that the sales of condoms are rapidly multiplying, the persons involved in the campaigns are earning handsomely and the magazines, advertising agencies and video-companies are reaping huge profits through their “fight” against the killer disease; but AIDS continues to attack with devastating speed and force.
Science is the name given to the efforts to arrive at the truth and knowing the realities. It unfolds the mysteries of nature and explains how the myriads of natural forces combine to maintain the perfect harmonious equilibrium essential for the sustenance of the universe and for the survival of all living beings. It teaches us how to avail the materials and energies for different purposes. It would however be dangerous to presuppose that science is merely an information-giver and has nothing to do with our morals. What is incontrovertible is that science too, like religion, has been and is being misused by the vested interests. The blame falls not on science but on those who misappropriate it. The scientists themselves have often tended to refute the greatest truth of the universe. A general empathy towards religion, which was the outcome of maledictory campaigns against it by the forces of economic fundamentalism, influenced the scientists too who strove to present science as an antidote to religion. Religion had already been equated with orthodoxy and retrogression. Sciences were developing under the patronage of the forces of economics who had already said good bye to religion, religious morality and God. it was therefore natural for the emerging edifice of science to maintain distance from the Faith. It was formally decided that scientific theories will be given without using God’s name. When science discovered that there exists a most wonderful equipoise in the universe that keeps life intact, that there seems to be a common cause of all the causes (a common force behind all the forces) and the common cause has to be cognizant of the needs of all the creatures, they named this common cause Nature. Had it been called God, the avowed antagonism of religion by science would have suffered a major setback. The acceptance of the One by science could have been a big boost for the moralists and the materialists could have faced encumbrances in their naked pursuit of money. So, the numerous laws governing the vast universe were labelled not as God’s or Creator’s Laws but the laws of Nature. The laws of gravitation and motion were called Newton’s Laws of Gravitation and Motion rather than the Creator’s Laws. Despite all these attempts to banish God from the realm of science, the truth is that science cannot move an inch without assuming the presence of a being, who is all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal, wise, calculating and all-pervading. It has only tried to infatuate itself by calling this omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient being as Nature. Can science explain how the particles or the space or the waves forming “Nature” can possess faculties of intelligence and wisdom? How come, physical laws came into existence when there was no one to understand their ramifications and implications in advance! How come, the chemical laws appeared when there was no one knowing the complexities of chemical reaction! How, come, following chemical laws, biological laws emerged without the existence of any biologist anywhere! The first existence having some ability to understand the laws and the properties, the man, came after billions of years, and it took him tens of millions of years more to start unfolding the mysteries in any significant way. Man came into existence with a highly sophisticated infrastructure, metabolism with highly complex chemical processes, a highly coordinated mechanism with an inbuilt mechanism of surviving and reproducing. But it was again millions of years later that man first started understanding the subtleties involved in the functioning of the body. But the body itself had taught immediately after the creation how to find its food, hoe to make it digestible, how to eat it, how to have sex with another person and how to rest. How did the body become so knowledgeable and what was its source of knowledge? The truth is that despite all the “advancement” sciences know very little about the universe. The signal failure of science that claims to be the truth and nothing but the truth or an effort in arriving at the truth has not been able to recognise the greatest truth of the Universe. It is not that science transformed its exponents into atheists. In fact, the greatest scientists of the world including Einstein, Darwin and Newton had unshakable belief in the presence of the One. But what their hearts were cognizant of, their pens could not describe in a scientific jargon. It was, less perhaps because they found their belief scientifically untenable and more because they feared becoming the targets of anti-religion elements that had the dominance in society and because of the predetermined position taken by the scientific bodies that God would not be allowed a place in scientific theories..
The ethical denudation turned science amoral. Scientists started thinking that science was above religion and ethics; and it had no role to play in the on-going course of social history except providing or striving to provide means of comfort or supremacy to those who seek them, even if they misuse these to rob common people of their hard-earned money or to kill humans for political supremacy in the world. The scientists have incarcerated themselves in laboratories, computers, books and journals; and the barons of economic fundamentalism continue to grab every new discovery for their growth. Seldom do they protest against the on-going desecration of nature and life. The few who display some determination and conviction to vent their feelings like environmentalists or epidemiologists are either diplomatically tackled or are ‘balanced’ through lucrative offers. At the most solutions to their concerns are sought in a way that their economic interests are not compromised to any significant degree.
Thus there is little doubt that the present world is not governed by the scientific spirit. It is the economic spirit that prevails upon every other consideration and pervades everywhere. The question may here be asked what the scientific spirit actually means. Sciences can be broadly divided into material sciences and the living sciences. The material sciences explain the phenomena occurring in nature and inform how precisely the matter follows certain principles. Thus the value of Gravitational Constant, denoted as G, remains exactly the same throughout the vast universe. The laws of motion, the law of gravitation, the laws relating to light, magnetism, electricity, nuclear physics and chemistry never change. Rules are the rule, and exceptions are exceptions. These laws are not only universal but also eternal having continued unchanged from time immemorial. Thus every particle of the atom follows the duties imposed on it with an uncompromising precision. It has no individual rights; it has to stick to the duties and prohibitions imposed by Nature. It is because of their adherence to the principles that the huge universe maintains an incredible equilibrium that sustains billions of mammoth bodies which too in their turn follow the prescribed course. They all are having peaceful coexistence because each one of them knows its specified boundaries which it never violates. When one studies the living sciences, one finds that life is what brings billions of billions of atoms together into one single existence. The living cells also follow the rules but the precision of material sciences is not visible here. Instead, they work within certain boundaries. Blood pressure, respiratory rate, cardiovascular impulses, etc., are not pinpointed (as in the case of material sciences) but have upper and lower ranges. No pulse count can be termed as exactly normal and the range of 60 to 80 is taken as normal. Similarly, the systolic blood pressure normally ranges between 110 and 140 mm Hg, and the diastolic between 60 and 90. There are also normal ranges for the time and amplitude of different waves normally appearing in an electrocardiogram, P, Q, R, S, T and U waves. The same is true for the total leucocyte count, red blood cell count, differential leucocyte count, haemoglobin percentage, serum bilirubin, blood sugar, cholesterol, creatinine, globulin, albumin, T3, T4, TSH, insulin and thousands of other indicators. The individual remains healthy till all these remain within the normal ranges. As soon as any of them either shoots up beyond the upper limit or falls down below the lower limit, deterioration in health begins. These indices tend to remain in the normal range if the individual’s routine activities, including eating, drinking, physical work, sleeping, etc. remain normal. No sooner does one engage in an abnormal activity, such as excessive or deficient eating and drinking or swallowing of such materials as have no role to play in the normal functioning of the physical system, extraordinarily exacting or sedentary work, uninhibited sex, or no sex at all, one’s body starts exhibiting signs of weakness and disease.
Economic fundamentalism largely banks on change. Change, they assert, is the essence of a successful life and society must continue to change with the time. Their emphasis on change is the natural outcome of their conspiracy to ravish the masses by luring them to buy new fashionable clothes, new household items and to adopt new social lifestyles. But science has totally different ideas to disseminate. The natural laws always remain precisely the same and do not change with time and place. The living beings, if at all they change, do so extremely slowly and for the better. These changes are aimed at adapting in accordance with the new environmental conditions. The corporate world, on the other hand, insists on rapid changes. They deliberately bring changes in the surroundings for their own interests and then pressurise the masses to follow suit. The new changes often bring disaster and not any real betterment in life. The magnates want the organs of the body to perform functions they have not been created for. They want the stomach to digest what is not worth digesting, the lungs to inhale what is not worth inhaling, the mouth and tongue to lick or suck what is not worth sucking, the rectum to receive what is nor right for receiving and the brain to think what is unworthy of thinking. Yet, they harangue big arguments to allow these in the name of personal freedom.
Science, it can therefore, be confidently argued, instructs the humans that to follow duties and prohibitions is more essential than asserting rights. The life sciences tell us that it is more important for the living being to work within the boundaries and never overstep limitations. This follows that the scientific spirit in synonymous with discipline, probity, truth and self-restraint. The economic spirit, on the other hand, which is so assiduously propelled by the modernists, especially the corporates, asserts that the rights have to prevail upon the duties; absolute freedom is the most cherished goal whatever its consequences on society and discipline is important only as far as it helps the business. It also follows that the scientific spirit adores health, peace and order and detests anything that jeopardises any one of these. The logical conclusion is that in a world ruled by the scientific spirit there can be no room for alcoholism, smoking, gambling and promiscuity as these are the harbingers of death, diseases, destruction and disorder. If still these are glorified, one can rightly infer that the economic or commercial spirit has totally banished the scientific spirit. The modern world has the body of science ruled by the ghost of commercialism.
It will not only be unrealistic but absolutely nonsensical not to recognize the importance of economics and to deny it its rightful place. Economics can be called the digestive system of the world. The digestive system, beginning from tongue and ending at anus, is an essential part of the body; it is the supplier of energy to various organs. But it would be disastrous to impart the functions of the heart and brain to it, which unfortunately is what the economic fundamentalists are hell-bent upon doing. Still more disturbing is the fact that not only the capitalists but also the socialists tend to put economics at the top of the agenda though their motives are contradictory in some respects. The capitalists adopted economic fundamentalism as their central ideology, their sole aim being to exploit the needs, desires and weaknesses of human beings to enhance their own economic status. They never had any genuine concern for human plight and whatever sympathy they pretended to possess was aimed at silencing the critics, vanquishing socialism and serving a long term or short term purpose. The socialists had genuine concern for the lot of the common man and endeavoured for their economic empowerment through equitable distribution of money. The extreme form of socialism, communism, had Soviet Union and China as its best representatives. Both manifested initial successes in terms of economic development as well as equitable distribution of wealth. Till the time the revolutionary fervour was at its zenith, the men controlling the government had dedication. Till turpitude was not rampant, things did not go awry. But, the system was bound to show decadence with the passage of time as the revolutionary fervour is always short-lived, and because the system itself had the propinquity to ignore the humanness of human beings. Communism dealt with men not as men but as machines who had no choice but to work in accordance with the commands issued by their superiors. They had neither the right to own nor the right to earn privately. Their future was planned and their needs determined by the state. Thus they had very few personal rights and the burden of duties was exacting. As there were no incentives for work; entrepreneurship did not exist. People slowly lost interest in work. Religion was dispatched into oblivion at the time of the Revolution; the people had no spiritual aims. Despondency prevailed in society and immoralities took control of the lives of the people Alcoholism destroyed the character. An overwhelming percentage of people in Russia became addicted drinkers; they drank even at the time of work. The production suffered heavily shattering the entire economy. The confederation of nations that acquired the superpower status began to crumble. The other superpower fished in troubled waters, ultimately leading to the disintegration of the Soviet empire into several small sovereign states. China did not suffer the same fate because it succeeded in keeping moral corruption in check and made certain essential modifications in its economic structure opening it in some sectors.
The capitalists steadily gained successes because they did not hesitate in using every possible trick, every method of exploitation and all possible means—good, bad, legal or illegal, and moral or immoral for their growth. As has already been elaborated, their fundamentalist approach had modified every department of social and political life. They had succeeded in popularising secularism and democracy which gave them immensely greater space to manoeuvre. The marginalisation of religion and remodelling of social values had opened new vistas for their growth. While they persisted in their endeavours to transform the whole of society into either the consumers or the consumed, they also took well-calculated steps to monopolise wealth by restructuring the economic system. The plan comprised liberalisation of economy, popularly known as laissez faire, adopting of a tax system that helped the cause of the industrialists and not that of the common people, establishment of a banking system and stock exchange that mobilised public money for their use, construction of such economic structures as would accelerate the upward mobility of wealth (from the poor to the rich), complicating the science of economics so that the common people, not even the intelligentsia, except the experts, can comprehend what happens at the economic level, using the economists to devise such criteria of economic development as suit their strategy and multiplication of demands by transforming treachery, dishonestly and falsehood into an art.
From the above-mentioned components of the plan it is evident that the ultimate goal of the economic fundamentalists is to concentrate, as much as possible, the wealth of the whole world into their own hands. One significant step in that direction was the establishment of the banking system. The banking system, private or nationalised, has hardly helped to bring about the economic betterment of the poor. It has done just the contrary. The little money that the labourers, the artisans, the peasant the clerks, the lower middle class people and the upper middle class servicemen are able to save by curbing their desires and curtailing even some essential expenses, is mostly deposited in the banks. The businessmen get hold of this mammoth money, (which becomes mammoth because it is contributed by millions and billions of peoples) in the form of loans to establish mills, factories, agencies, departmental stores and companies. With this money, they earn huge profits, ranging sometimes from 50 to 300%. A very small portion, usually between 8- 15%, of what they amass is given back as interests to the banks, and a smaller portion, 4- 12%, of that interest is distributed among the real owners of that money. This small interest is used as a decoy to trap the naive commoners. The common people have no other option as their money is not big enough to be turned into an asset (gold, property) or to set up any business, and the security problems compel them to put their hard-earned money into the reservoirs of banks. If the ordinary people even contemplate to start their own business with the assistance of bank loans, they either fail to fetch it on account of their ability to submit sureties or if at all they succeed in getting some loans, they have to run the great risk of getting entangled into a debt-traps because their incomes are usually not high enough to simultaneously fulfil their routine requirements and to pay regularly the instalments to the bank. In case their business fails, the probabilities of which are considerably high in the face of hard competition with the big businessman. They do not have sufficient financial backing to make up for the losses. They often have to clear their loans by selling whatever little assets they have. Moreover, if they get the goods like cars financed, they have to pay a substantial amount in addition to the original amount, and by the time they clear the loan the market value of the purchased items substantially fall.
The private banks, wherever they exist, accentuate this upward mobility. While the incomes from the nationalised banks is utilised, at least partially, for the welfare activities, the whole profits of the private banks are credited to the owners. The industrialists do not believe in keeping the majority of their money in the banks. They either invest in profitable ventures or convert it into movable or immovable assets, the cost of which keeps on rising. These assets prove to be of great utility in procuring further loans. Their business continues to expand with the help of people’s money and the value of their assets continues to show an upward trend. Inflation, which is the outcome of the conspiracy by the industrialist and their cronies in the government, ensures that whatever they pay as interest on the loans (and taxes) is compensated and whatever the public gets as interest on their money is more or less recruited. Inflation recycles the money back to the industrialists. The poor account holders thus get virtually nothing; while with their money the big businessmen build palaces and companies. In short, the banks have become mere vehicles for transferring wealth from the less-moneyed to the more-moneyed. The businessmen also run big financial companies where again the depositors’ money is used to give loans at much higher rates of interest to those seeking it. Finance companies do not only earn themselves but also help the industries by increase in sales of consumer items of all kinds including vehicles, air conditioners, TVs and refrigerators. Through finance, the industries succeed in capturing even the future money of the people.
The insurance companies are also booming; these companies are able to compete with banks because they cash in on the personal fears of the people. The common men are always wary of accidents and sudden deaths; and to ensure financial safety for their survivors, they oblige the insurance company despite the fact that these companies often pay interests even less than what the banks do.
The forces of economic fundamentalism have benefited immensely from the banks. But from their point of view there were some drawbacks of the banking system. First, they have limited capacity to cater to the ever-increasing demands of the manufacturers and traders. Second, the banks could provide money only up to a certain limit and for only a certain period. The compulsion of paying back the instalments shortly after the procurement of loans would sometimes bring the companies and their directors under insurmountable pressure. This would stall or terry their growth. Third, the banks regularly meddled in the affairs of the business. Fourthly in case the business suffers loss, the banks did not share it and had to be repaid the whole loan along with the interest. The banks having been managed by competent persons, it is not easy to deceive them. To overcome all these obstacles, stock-exchange was erected. This would provide a regular supply of money and by the establishment of private limited and limited companies they had already limited their legal responsibilities in case the companies failed. The stock exchanges serve their purpose by amassing wealth of the common people for their use at tremendously easy conditions. They would not have to face the innumerable constraints put by the banks. The public would be easier to convince of the “enormous benefits” of investing in their companies. The biggest advantage of course would be that in case there are diminished returns, the loss would not fall on their shoulders alone. They would, without much of a difficulty, transfer the major portion of their losses to the small shareholders who have no option in such circumstances except to sell their shares at much lesser prices than that at which they were purchased. It is hardly surprising then that the frequent ups and downs in the stock-market are often artificially produced in order to benefit a major investor or harass a competitor in the market. The minor shareholders, the common people, have to almost always bear the brunt. Share-market has turned speculative on account of the increasing role being played by the middlemen. The companies being limited, the directors, in case the company is on the verge of collapse, use the manoeuvrability of the laws and regulations to minimise their own losses. But the minor shareholders, who together often own more than the directors, are in no position to avert the disaster. They have money to invest in the companies but no role to play in formulating the policies. The directors use their positions to safeguard their own interests, obviously at the expense of hundreds of thousands of minor investors. When the equities are declared open, the public has no method of its own to examine the credentials of the company and has to rely solely on whatever little information, obviously presented in a way so as to attract the investors and to avoid any legal implications, is made available to them by the directors. There is no foolproof procedure to determine the genuineness of a company. With increasingly greater number of people falling to the lure of the share-market, which has became no less speculative than the lottery and bookies, several investment companies have surfaced. These companies succeed in luring the commoners because, unable to understand the nuances of stock-exchange, they prefer safety. These companies are adept in the art of investment and their guile helps them make big fortunes. Whatever they earn is naturally ultimately paid by the people. Betting has further complicated the matters and the bosses of the bookies use their links and influence to generate false ripples in the exchange. To boost up public investments, the news of share-market and Sensex-indexes are broadcast daily on radio, TV and internet. The impression goes to the public that the survival of economy depends only on the Sensex.
The economic fundamentalists have always longed for absolute independence. They have shown contempt for socialism as it advocates state’s control. The rapidly increasing popularity that socialism gained in the middle of the twentieth century in Asian and European countries was extremely agonising for them because it threatened their existence. They were frightened by the prospects of socialist ideologies taking roots in the capitalist societies as well. It was therefore a matter of life and death for them to resist tooth and nail the burgeoning socialist proclivities. They wanted the socialist model to fail as soon as possible. And when, partly due to inherent weaknesses of the model and partly due to inapt handling of the economic affairs by the successive governments, the socialist Soviet Union breathed its last, their fears were finally allayed. It was easy to glorify privatisation now. ‘Privatisation’ signalled that the state would not have any direct access to the resources of wealth generation. The denial of this right to the state indicated that the public would cease to play whatever little role earlier had and would be in no position to use these resources for its betterment. The galloping corruption in all the state departments and at all levels from top to bottom and the ascendance of self-seeking, incompetent and depraved politicians combined to ensure that the economic development remained slow. The recurring hikes in prices made the state policies unpopular. Though the industrialists were responsible in many ways for this rot, they used their usual guile to cash in on the worsening situation. They were quick to pronounce that if the corruption was to be uprooted and the developmental activities were to be carried, the panacea lies in ‘privatisation’. This process started a long time back in West and is now under way in the “developing” countries where the economies are being steadily decontrolled. The privatisation is engulfing one nation after the other. The economists who too have either been brainstormed or are employed for the very purpose of advancing specific economic theories have failed to find fault with the new developments. The fact that privatisation would help the big business to further monopolise all forms of production has been advertently or inadvertently forgotten or ignored. The industrial development has become synonymous with national economic development; the Sensex is its most powerful indicator. The crowding of markets with consumer items is presented as symbol of prosperity of the nation. The economic growth and development, it is argued, rests on the flow of goods from the industries to the houses. The science or more appropriately the art of economics has been deliberately complicated by the introduction of hundreds of economic criteria and indicators.
It should not be inferred from what is stated above that privatisation is wholly unacceptable. What in fact are dangerous are the ulterior motives. It is these motives that make unlimited liberalisation totally ineffective in approximating the chasm between the rich and poor. The truth is that the liberalisation is being used to maintain or widen the chasm. The bigger the gap the more is the monopolisation. Any talk therefore by the votaries of privatisation of alleviating poverty is absolute hypocrisy. It can be said that they are brigands who derive sadistic pleasure in robbing the masses of whatever little they possess -- directly (banks & stock-exchange) or in exchange with much less valuable goods (consumer market).
To equate the industrial production with the economic development is grossly misleading. In truth, it is misplaced to call industrial production “production” because it has little to do with the real production and only helps in redistribution of the already produced material and wealth. Had even this redistribution been based on equitable and justifiable premises, the industrial activity could have been a great boon for mankind or the country. On the contrary, it has become an instrument in monopolising wealth produced anywhere on the earth into a few hands. This monopolisation has turned the would-be-boon into a bane. What we can call the real production is from the natural resources like land (farms, orchards, mines, animals, nuclear energy, etc.), water (oceans, rivers, etc.) and atmosphere (Sun Energy). It is through farming, cultivation of fruits, husbandry, poultry, fishery, mining and generation of electricity and nuclear energy that mankind receives regular supplies of products for their existence and comforts. The industry only remodels these products into items of comfort or grandeur. Thus the function of industries is to remodel and distribute the material and wealth. This is important but when it leads to several medical and social problems and accentuates disparities in society, rethinking is required. If the present model of privatisation perpetuates, the affluent will continue to increase in affluence and the poor will continue to grow in poverty. This, of course has to be determined in relative terms. The Economic Disparity all over the world, instead of declining, is achieving new heights with every passing day. What a tribute to the modern economic model!
It is a travesty of social justice that the original producers, namely the farmers, the orchard cultivators, the miners, the husbandry and the poultry farmers and the fishermen earn only meagre amounts for the most essential services they render to mankind providing food, cloth and several other items of essential use. In stark contrast, the secondary producers (the industrialists and the traders) earn enormous sums by performing functions that are relatively less essential. Is it not ironical that the former usually live in wretched conditions having no access to good schools, good hospitals and good services; and the latter lavishly live in palatial surroundings enjoying the best form of education, most advanced medical facilities and high class position in social and political hierarchy? The logic advanced is that the essential items must be available at the cheapest possible prices while the consumer items may be allowed to be costlier because the essential items are also used by the poor. I find this approach self-contradictory and the thinkers will have to reconsider it afresh. Would it not be more logical that the primary producers and traders of essential items get the maximum and the manufacturers and traders of the nonessential consumer items the minimum possible profits? This of course will be unacceptable to the economic fundamentalists who have vested interests in the continuation of the status quo. If the essential items start costing more, the people would have less money left for purchasing the costly consumer items. If the consumer items are priced relatively lower the big business would be the ultimate loser. How can this be allowed?
By nourishing a consumer culture, the economic fundamentalists have succeeded in building a society in which men and women consume more tea and coffee than milk, ghee and paneer, more ice-creams, soft drinks and wines than fresh fruits and sugar cane juices, and wear garments made up of synthetic fabrics more than cotton clothes. Such has been the impact of high-pitched advertising that the people opt for useless, often harmful and sometimes dangerous foods and drinks in preference to the rich, nutritious and salubrious. This of course is aimed at impeding the growth of agricultural sector and small manufacturers and traders. Big business has always dispensed the small scale industry and has been steadily contriving to asphyxiate it. It will be seen in the coming pages how the environmental issues and child labour have been used as tools for the purpose. The small sector faces extraordinary difficulties in the face of the onslaughts by the big industrialists who command all the necessary resources to influence the choices of people and the policies of the government.
The state obviously plays a greatly significant role in the direction and growth of economics. One of the principal functions of any government is to collect taxes from the citizens of the country. This forms a major part of the revenue essential for the survival and functioning of government. At the same time, it also influences the direction of the growth in different sectors and distribution of resources and money. The fiscal policy is also responsible for inflationary or deflationary trends. Two types of taxes are popular all over the world: direct taxes and indirect taxes. The most well-known taxes of course are income-tax, sales tax, excise duty and custom duty. The government has to experience pulls from different directions -- the big industries, the small scale industries, the traders, the farmers, the labourers, the servicemen and the other classes of common men. These groups often have strong votaries in different political parties depending upon their support bases. The government endeavours to reconcile all these forces in determining its fiscal policy. Nobody wants imposition of taxes but taxes being the major source of revenue are unavoidable. The ostensibly reconciliatory approach of the government is usually deceptive; it tends to favour a tax system that best suits the interests of the classes and groups of people on whose support depends its short term or long term prospects as the leading political force of the country. But the industries are normally so powerful and have such subtle style of pushing through their economic designs that the government willy-nilly succumbs to their pressures. The industries maintain liaisons with almost every important political party each one of which depends on funds donated by the industries for its political activities. At the individual level too, the political leaders receive big amounts either in cash or in kind. The minimal, weakest and least vocal representation in the governments is invariably from the lowest strata of society. It is they who are most of the times the ultimate sufferers.
The economic fundamentalists know that they have no option but to contribute to the revenue of the government. They are however hard bargainers. Whatever they pay as taxes is recovered in multiplied amounts through the friendly policies of the government and by manoeuvring the ministers and officials to favour them. Thus, despite the fact that several alternative forms of taxes such as wealth-tax and luxury tax have been time and again mooted, at different platforms, it is the income tax and sales tax that continue to hold sway in almost all the countries of the world. Income tax instead of wealth tax serves only the interests of the big business and the richest and has devastating effects on the economic interests of the rest of nation. The industrialists prefer the income tax over the wealth/assets tax due to several reasons. First, the income tax envisages a tax only on the preceding year’s income and has nothing to do with the cumulative assets which keep on growing. It can be easily noticed that the value of the assets held by the affluent is always many times greater than their annual income. Thus, the income tax is the minimum possible amount they have to submit. Secondly, it has no depressing effect on the purchasing tendencies of people; the annual turnovers of the companies are therefore not affected. Thirdly, it is easy to evade income tax through subtle manipulations of the rules, purchase of assets that are bought either surreptitiously or are shown to have been purchased at much lower than their real prices, display into accounts of much greater expenses than actually incurred and bribing the tax-collectors. The damaging effects of income tax are multifold. The black money sustains its upward march; the prices keep on soaring; the land, the houses and the other immovable properties become costlier. Inflation helps the industrialists in strengthening their hold over the economy. The value of the assets amassed by them continues to grow, their annual turnovers increase, and whatever they have to pay as income tax or as interests on the loans is more or less neutralised. They conceal their own incomes, convert their savings into assets and avail their resources as sureties for taking huge loans from the banks and financial institutions. It means that the loans are availed only by those who do not need them; those who are in need of financial support have little chances of getting their application for loans accepted. It will be seen in the latter parts of the book how all these damaging effect on economy can be reversed by introducing assets-tax.
The other taxes, namely, the sales tax, the excise duty and the customs are paid not by the manufacturers or traders but by the customers. These taxes add to the cost of goods and whenever there is an increase in the rates of these taxes the resulting spurt in prices causes additional burden on the shoulders of customers. It would not be wrong to assert that the coffers of the state are filled, not with the money of the big business, as they claim and is also generally understood but with the money of the lower, lower middle and upper middle classes. In India for example, more than 80 percent of the combined collections of the central and provincial governments comes not from those who hold 80 percent of the wealth but from those who hold the 20 per cent. What a travesty of social justice and the welfare system! The billionaires submit as taxes what they have amassed through manipulation, deceit and sordid machinations and want to be paid homage for the “great service” they are doing to the nation or mankind. And it is through the enormous influence wielded by these payments that they blandish the government to implement “economic reforms”. It is not that the government is unaware of the truth. It is happening, because the government finds it somewhat less tedious, and more, because the men controlling the government are regularly pampered by the industrialists. It is not the interest of the government or the nation it governs but the interests of ministers and officials that coincide with those of the barons of the business world. The result is that the grand exploitation of the masses by the industrialist elite and their minions continues unabated.
The “economic reforms” that the economic fundamentalists and their economist friends have been clamouring for all over the world are nothing but the additional licenses to maraud the masses of whatever they posses or earn. They are in truth permissions for exploitation under the garb of free-market and are aimed the removing all the possible obstructions in their way to the ultimate destination which is to gain absolute control over all the resources of production -- material or human. The capitalists have always attached unparalleled importance to the capital and have tried to slight the role of skill and minimise the significance of labour. With the advent of machines, they succeeded in reducing the role of labour in manufacturing. But they knew that even the machines were to be regulated by men and it was not feasible to develop instruments for every task. They then decided to exploit the labourers by giving them petty sums as cost of their work. Whenever the workers displayed unity and demanded increase in their salaries or allowances they either rejected their demands, threatening them with expulsions and sowing seeds of disunity in their ranks or, when they had no other choice except to yield in, they would recover whatever was conceded to them by raising the rates of the products of the company. The hike in the salaries of workers gave little respite to them as the prices of essential items proportionally increased. The irony is that even much of the capital the industrialists boast of belongs mainly to the common people and has been amassed through the institutions of banking and stock exchange.
The huge differences between the incomes of the directors of the companies who possess very little knowledge of the functioning of various machines or instruments and the managing staff, skilled and unskilled workers are ample evidence of how the mental and physical labours of the employees are exploited. If the directors of companies will earn millions, the employees would earn only hundreds of thousands. With the price soaring high, the poor workers who labour for at least eight hours a day and whose work is no lees important are not even in a position to have balanced and nutritious food. Their inability to own their own houses raises their monthly expenditure as they have to part with a sizeable part of their paltry salary as rent of their small quarters. Not to speak of the labourers, most of the employees suffer the same fate. They cannot normally afford to send their children to standard schools. If some of them somehow, by suppressing their own desires and needs, get their sons or daughters admitted in a good school, the child’s psyche has to withstand severe jolts as his or her schoolmates sport costly dresses, vehicles and other items which they cannot even dream of.
The denial of dignity of labour has thus stretched the gap between the rich and the poor beyond tolerable limits. Socialism recognised the value of labour, but it ultimately failed because it took the extreme view of denying the significance of private capital and entrepreneurship in the development altogether. Moreover, what the leftists could achieve in the name of the rights of workers was mostly formation of labour unions. These unions only safeguard the workers against expulsion and were sometimes able to persuade the owners to pay bonuses. With the passage of time, the unions have become non-existent or ineffective.
That the industrialisation in itself has only a limited though important role in the economic development is confirmed by the fact that several industrialised nations including India continue to be one of the most poverty-ridden nations of the world. Had industrialisation been indispensable, India would have been among the most affluent countries. Industrialisation is good because it reduces the burden of imports and enhances the opportunities of export. But again, viewed from the global angle, the chief aim of industrialisation is to transfer money from one section of the people to the other or from one region to the other. If some countries have made huge economic gains on the strength of their industries, they have done it largely at the cost of others. The truth remains that, owing to the economic policies of the fundamentalists, the industries only tend to aggravate economic inequalities. With the anti-agriculture bias dominating the modern economic theory and due to the rapid expansions of industrial areas and the moving urbanisation, the area of land available for farming, cultivating and husbandry is rapidly decreasing and the forests are fast disappearing. The resulting ecological imbalance and the crowding of cities have become major problems of today’s world.
The modern economists that are merely the cohorts of the Multinational Companies tend to lay emphasis only on the economic growth, which indicates rise of the Gross National Income per annum. This criterion is largely inadequate for measuring advancement in the conditions of common people. It only gives an idea about the rise in the fortunes of industrialists as it does not inform about the distribution pattern of newly generated wealth. It also fails to inform about the real additions (produces accumulated from natural resources) to the stock of materials possessed by mankind.
It has been proved time and again that there is hardly any change in the distribution pattern as a result of the economic “growth”. With few exceptions, the growth in almost all the countries tends to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. The truth is that the economic fundamentalists know that the economic growth is directly proportional to the rise in inequality of distribution; more equitable distribution would leave fewer individuals and families in a position to purchase the costly consumer items. It therefore suits the ingenious fundamentalists to maintain as much the disparities between the incomes of different groups of people as possible.
I also fail to understand how the so called rate of economic growth can be accepted as true. GNP, by its very definition, refers to the total monetary value of all the goods and services produced within the geographical boundaries of a nation during a given year (by the resident citizens of that country) and it is calculated by valuing the outputs of all ‘final goods’ and services at market prices. Thus, the rise in the Gross National Income fails to take into account the rise in market prices, i.e. inflation. The exact rate of growth must instead be calculated by the formula, Increase in GNP minus inflation Rate. If for example, the growth rate of a particular country, say India, comes out to be 6% and inflation rate is 8%, the real growth rate comes out to be minus 2%. But, this is deliberately ignored because the industry as well as the government is always eager to give an impression that the nation is progressing well. Inflation, in truth, is being used by the industry to maintain or increase growth. And unfortunately for the economic fundamentalists, the nation means only the industry and for the rulers of the nation only the government. The Nation itself hardly if ever finds itself in a position of long term economic security. Thanks to industrialisation, the common people may be having a few goods to keep them in good humour but no assets to back them, all the assets steadily maintaining their upward mobility from the poor to the rich, from the rich to the richer, and from the richer to the richest.
The most succinct definition of civilization is that it is the state of being civilized and being civilized means refraining from barbarism and receiving instruction in arts and refinements. Thus civilization indicates a higher state of conscience, altruistic sentiments and responsiveness. One is considered to be civilized if one’s demeanour in public, or in private, does not harm or embarrass others, one displays concern over the problems of others and makes efforts to help others in their pursuits or in their hours of crisis. Those whose selfless commitment to mankind persuades them to make greatest personal sacrifices, who suffer to remove distresses of their fellow creatures and tolerate pain to alleviate others’ throes, leave indelible footmarks on history. Their glory reaches far and wide; they continue to live even after their exit from the mortal world. They instil hope and courage in the despondent, guide the ignorant, rectify apprehensions, generate endurance in the oppressed and bring pleasure to the weak, the poor and the downtrodden. From places unknown, they control the hearts and minds of men. The historians evaluate them not by the wealth they amassed or the grandeur they splurged but by the splendour of their ideas and magnificence of their actions. Great is a man whose influence on mankind has been outstanding; his hymns are sung and his deeds are the delight of story and drama writers.
It is in fact the civilization of human existence that anoints humans with the status of the superior most among all the creatures. Man is superior because he is not always concerned with his own needs and desires; his heart at others’ grief or joy too. In contradistinction to humans, animals derive pleasure only in their own attainments. Human beings tend to socialise and live together in villages or cities, animals vie with one another in the jungles. ‘Survival of all’ is the motto of human society; ‘survival of the strongest ‘ is the law of the jungle. Animals do not generally have any feeling of shame and roam nude mating without following any specific set of social principles; man has learned to cover himself and prefers to make love in surroundings hidden from others’ view. Animals enjoy rights and follow duties only as their nature. Their excesses against one another are not judged by any rule of law because they are not expected to have any sense of conscience or knowledge of law. Man has to work within the boundaries set by society; he is expected to know the law and obey it.
Let us examine the present civilization in the light of these premises. The economic fundamentalists want the world to believe that the present human society is at the zenith of civilization. Their claim emanates from the fact that humans can now boast of more worldly splendour than was the case at any other time in the past. Man resides with comfort in palatial surroundings, has variety of colourful dresses to don, travels in high-speed vehicles on splendid roads, can fly in the air or sale the sea with dazzling speeds, has equipment to confront the vagrancy of weather, has advanced technology providing him with thousands of items of luxury, can communicate within seconds with any person living anywhere in the world, can watch with delight in his own bedroom the events organised at the farthest places on earth, is better acquainted with the secrets of life and of the universe, possesses thousands of medicines to treat illnesses and can remove, with or without knife, malformations from inside the human body. They also claim that the world of today has the most developed political, economic and social systems. The big industries, the lavish hotels, the multi-storey stock exchanges, the sprawling, lush-green picnic spots and the busy beaches are presented as symbols of civilization. By making these claims the votaries of modernism aim to give a new meaning to civilization. To them, civilization is synonymous with development and prosperity. This is an absolutely materialistic description of civilization that has no place for moral and spiritual excellence. It is not that the connoisseurs of economic fundamentalism are not aware of the hollowness of their belief; they very much are. This in fact is a conscious, motivated and deceptive attempt aimed at diverting public attention from the dangerous consequences of their strategies and perpetuating their empire. They seek to keep the masses and the intelligentsia bemused. It is for this reason that they assiduously glorify status symbols in society. These status symbols are projected as indicators of one’s ‘sophistication’, the word that is being planted as replacement for ‘civilization’. As soon as a new item or an updated version of the old one comes into the market with a fanfare that immediately captures imagination of the people, it becomes a new status symbol. These symbols modify not only with time but also with the various strata of society. Thus radio, Tape-recorder and Stereo, various types of TV, colour TV and VCR. bicycle, motorbike and cars of varying costs, fans, the coolers and air-conditioners, chairs, tables and sofas, the kurtas, jeans and suits, frocks, chemises and sarees , long hair and short hair, soft drinks, bears and wines, birthday parties and marriage anniversaries, tobacco, cigarette, cigar and pipe -- all are symbols of status for different sections of society depending upon their financial, educational and social backgrounds. A man or woman’s ability to attend parties, their smartness in mixing with the members of opposite sex, their readiness to dance on the floor, their ken at organising such functions, their boldness to crack vulgar jokes and their keenness to share bed are signs of 'modernity'; promiscuity, gambling and drinking are no more sins in the eyes of the modern but pointers to one’s high life style. What Boswell said while differentiating between the 'civilized' and the ‘savage’ is true of the modern civilization. He said, “It is in refinement and elegance that the civilized differs from the savage. A great part of our industry and all our ingenuity is exercised in procuring pleasure; and a hungry man has not the same pleasure in eating a luxurious dinner”. Rousseu, in “Origin of Equality” made scathing remarks about the modern society – “The case is quite different with man in the state of society, for whom first necessities have to be provided, and then superfluities; delicacies follow next, then immense wealth, then subjects, and then slaves. He enjoys not a moment’s relaxation; and what is yet strange, the less natural and pressing his wants, the more headstrong are his passions, and, still worse, the more he has it in his power to gratify them, so that after a long course of prosperity, after having swallowed up treasures and ruined multitudes, the hero ends up by cutting every throat till he finds himself, at last sole master of the world. Such is, in miniature, the moral picture, if not human like, at least of the secret pretensions of heart of cultured man”.
As said earlier, the redefining of civilization in terms of modernity, fashion, smartness and prosperity augers well for economic fundamentalism because it goes a long way to establish the monopoly of the very few in the world. It is through presentation of these symbols and identifying them with the desires and ambitions of the people that more than five thousand million people of the world are being virtually ruled by less than five hundred persons. According to a recent report, 1 per cent of the people own more than the rest. According to another report, 61 persons own more than fifty percent of the total wealth of the inhabitants of the earth. On paper, they are neither heads of state nor heads of governments, nor have under their command armies. But they have the hydrogen bomb of money in their possession, which makes them the ultimate rulers and the whole world their subjects. They may not be the kings but are the kingmakers; they may not personally participate in the policy deliberations at the government level but their stooges in the ministries ensure that the policies drafted by their masters get the nod of the cabinet. It is through sheer power of the money, their ruthlessness in pursuing their goals and the culpability of those at the helms of government that the wizards of economic fundamentalism perpetuate their undeclared rule. They are the monarchs who enjoy only the privileges of monarchy without owning any responsibility. Their domains include not only the visible but even the human senses which in fact are their real dhimmis; they cater to the demands of these basic instincts and in return they throw their possessions at the feet of their masters.
The other equally important objective behind the redefining of civilization is to keep under cover one of the major products of economic fundamentalism the barbarism that now pervades everywhere. Parts of this barbarism have been intentionally engendered by the big business to enhance its economic prospects and parts are unwanted side-effects of their policies. The crimes are on the rise in almost all parts of the world, the degree of the rise depending upon the social, political and legal infrastructure of the countries. The countries that have adopted the modern, legal and social ideologies in a bigger way are obviously more prone to crimes. The United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy, Canada, and Germany -- all these countries have extremely high rates of crime. Similar is the case of those countries that have fast westernised themselves, at least in terms of the legal frame work. These include India, Pakistan, Turkey, Singapore, Israel, etc. The US has the distinction of having one of the highest rate of murders, rapes and robberies; one tenth of all women have been raped and attempts to rape have been made on one third. In India, over 50, 000 persons, on average, are murdered every year and more than 20, 000 women are raped. These of course are approximate figures based on the recorded cases; the unrecorded cases may be several times more. The paralysis of legal system is so complete that hardly a few hundred cases of murder result in convictions every year. Most of these receive life imprisonment. Very few cases (in one or two figures) are hanged. Most of the rape victims do not display enough resilience to approach the police. They know it pretty well that their efforts are more likely to fail; justice would elude them. The rapists or their politically influential bosses would not just allow it; they would either bribe the police or would get the unyielding officers 'suitably transferred'. If at all the trial begins, they would have to undergo through another rape in the form of a barrage of questions, which will be psychologically even more agonising an experience than the first, as the questions would mostly be too obscene to answer for a lady having the slightest sense of shame. The ultimate result in the overwhelming majority of cases would be an “honourable acquittal” of the rapist and unbearable humiliation of the raped who would have to face life-long persecution by society. Nobody would be willing to marry a woman with such 'blemish'. The underworld operations continue with impunity; the dons and their loyalists loot, stab and shoot people at will. The high-ranking administrators feel pride in attending parties organised by the dons and in sharing whisky with them in their private suits. The ministers and members of parliaments and assemblies often go out of their way to keep them at a considerable distance from the arm of justice.
If the medieval period is often degraded as 'the dark ages' by the economic fundamentalists, it is also aimed at justifying the new developments. True, that the medieval era witnessed a number of wars and carnages. It is also true the people then did not enjoy the material comforts of today. It may also be right that the masses had almost no rights in governance. But now when we are in the twenty first century, it can be said with as much conviction that the last century fared no better. It saw two of the bloodiest and fiercest wars of all times killing tens of millions of people; and the nations involved in the two World Wars were the same as claim themselves to be the most peace-loving, civilized and developed people living on the earth. Ever since the Second World War, the fights have not been an uncommon occurrence: and hardly any continent (except Australia) can claim to have been war-free. America battled for several years in Vietnam and for more than three decades is involved in wars and civil wars in the Middle East. Nicaragua, EI Salvador, Rwanda, Zaire, Chad and Libya all have been involved in fierce battles; India and Pakistan have fought three wars; India and China have been at loggerheads with each other, the rivalry having conflagrated into a full-fledged war once; Israel, backed by the US and its allies, and Arabs have constantly been on the warpath; Iran and Iraq continued to pounce at each other’s civil and military targets for several years; Russian troops killed about half a million civilians in Afghanistan and American forces, in collaboration with the armies of many countries, ravaged Iraq, and for the several years after the cessation of hostilities kept making life difficult for the people of Iraq. Syria is the latest battlefield with. There has been civil strife in several European countries including Poland; Bosnia was struggling to keep itself alive after suffering from incessant bombardments for several years; Russia has been using its might to subdue the tiny Chechnya and Ukrain; Cambodia, Cyprus, Britain, Argentina -- all these countries have been engaged in ferocious battles in the recent history. Carnages worse than those committed by the Mongols in Iraq have reddened the pages of history in the twentieth century. The worst of them was the nuclear holocaust as the result of which hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children were killed at Nagasaki and Hiroshima by the US, and the brutal slaughter of millions of Jews by the German dictator, Hitler. There have also been carnages in Russia, Bosnia, India, EI-Salvador, Sri Lanka and several other places. In fact, the last hundred years murdered more people than the entire Medieval Age. And still we remain the “most civilized” people of history!
The net result is that peace eludes the modern civilization; and not only peace at the social or international level is non-existing; man has grown even more peace-less at the individual level. He has all the luxuries at his disposal, still happiness has divorced his soul. He has numerous means of entertainment; still tension and anxiety rule his mind and heart. Socialism aimed at converting the world into a factory, and humans into machines; corporate has transformed the world into a bazaar surrounded on all side by jungles, and humans into wild animals who know only their rights and some duties but no prohibitions and restraints. When the modern man feels anxiety, he opts for either a tablet of a sedative or a peg of whisky. When he is sick with boredom, he goes to gamble or flirt with women or watches the vulgarities on big or small screen. And when his problems become intolerable he often decides to seek refuge in the valley of death. Everyone is ready to exploit everyone else. Friendship has lost its meaning; relationships are governed by selfish interest. Nobody wants to help others. Neighbours do not even recognise one another. None is concerned about the sentiments of others; everyone is seeking fulfilment of one’s own desires, whatever the consequences for others. One kills another for the sake of a few thousand bucks. Money is important, man is not. The great thinker, Emerson, in his essay, “Napoleon” says: “As long as our civilization is essentially one of property of fences, of explosions, it will be marked by delusions. Our wishes will leave us sick. There will be bitterness in our laughters and our wine will burn our mouth.”
It can be said without hesitation that the economic fundamentalists led by the West have brought about the grand barbarisation of the earth. Sentiments have ceased to be of any worth. Morals are supposed to be a big hindrance in aggrandisement. But te truth remains that despite all the efforts to negate emotions, man by his very nature is sentimental. The man inside this animal often haunts him. He feels sad; he is stricken by grief; he is moved by emotions; he wants to love and to be loved; he longs to own and to be owned. And it is this battle between the sentimental man and emotionless society that ravages his psychological composure. An overwhelming percentage of men, women and children of the present world are psychiatric patients. Minor or major mental ailments affect almost every person. Anxiety, insomnia, nervousness phobias, mania, depression, obsession, paranoia, melancholia, schizophrenia -- all are becoming increasingly common. Obviously, these diseases are more common in those countries where materialism has completely marginalised spiritualism and religion has ceased to exist as a driving force in human lives. Still, religion is ridiculed, jeered at and maligned for the problems of the world. No medical scientist has bothered to objectively study the possible role of religiousness in treating the psychiatric patients because religion does not pay as much as drugs do.
Freedom is the catch-word for the megalomaniacs of modern “civilization”. This augurs well for them because it opens a great number of avenues for their business and is also a tool in their hands to create a fantastic image of the present civilization vis-à-vis the “black ages” when men and women used to love under “severe restrictions” and “unnecessary inhibitions”. Free man tends to do whatever he feels like doing at a particular moment of time, irrespective of its consequences on his own life or on the lives of others. The rationale behind this, according to the liberalists, is that man is himself responsible for the consequences of his acts and others have no business to poke their nose in his personal matters, and to teach him morals. If one wants to drink it is his right, even if it causes severe mental anguish and financial burden to his dependents and well-wishers and makes him vulnerable to several life-threatening health problems. If one wants to lie with a person of one’s choice one must have full liberty to do so-even if it destroys one’s family and leads to several other unforeseen problems including fatal or incapacitating illnesses. If one wants to roam in minimal or no clothes it is one’s prerogative to dress as one likes, even if it blazes the passions of onlookers and drives them mad to rape unwilling women. One must be free to commit suicide, even if one’s hara-kiri brings intolerable pain and suffering to one’s relatives and friends. What sort of freedom is this that kills people, maddens men, women and children, leads to sexual assaults, destroys families, makes parents and children alien to one another, turns the old into destitute and kids into orphans and gives people sleepless nights! It seems to be absolutely nonsensical to call the modern “civilization” civilization. It is barbarism at its worst. Today’s men and women are not humans but another species of animals, the Homo sapiens whose animal instincts are always positioned in the driver’s seat. They are in fact even worse than the beasts as the beasts do not manufacture weapons, drinks and eatables for their own destruction; their actions are simply the result of impulses and reflexes that ensure their survival. Whatever the animals do is without the foreknowledge of the consequences of their actions. Man is mostly prescient of the possible adverse consequences of his actions on himself and on society; and yet, his knowledge does not stop him from indulging in evil acts. The kings of the jungle rule only due to their sheer physical force and commit “excesses” on fellow-animals only to fill their empty stomachs, having no other option to satiate their hunger; neither do they exploit the other inhabitants in their territories nor prevent them from availing the products of nature. The rulers of the world of Homo sapiens commit excesses, oppress and cheat their species-fellows for their own inexplicable designs; they are worse than the carnivores and saprophytes. It is not the compelling necessities but their covetousness that makes them ruthless dictators. They kill people not to fill their hungry intestines but to perpetrate their uncompromising hold on the economic or political power. Their intention is not just to survive but not to let others survive. It will be worthwhile here to reproduce Schiller’s remarks about freedom:
“We all in nature, destitute of reason, only a sister who, more fortunate than ourselves, has remained under the material roof, while in the intoxication of our freedom, we have fled from it to throw ourselves into a stranger world. We regret this place of safety, we earnestly long to come back to it as soon as we have begun to feel the better side of civilization and in the totally artificial life in which we are exiled we hear in deep emotion the voice of our mother. While we were still children of nature we were happy, we were perfect; we have become free, and we have lost both advantages”.
How then is the present era better than the middle ages? There might have been some areas where the medieval people suffered at the hands of the rulers or the administrators. There might have been many wives who were beaten by their husbands. But there was generally no lawlessness. Murders and rapes were few, at least in the parts of the world that had well-established governments; the murderers and rapists could not go scot free and severe punishment to them was a big deterrent for other criminals. Cheating and infringement of others’ rights were not easy; the law was always there to act decisively. Prostitution was there but it was not the order of the day. The family system was not only alive but well; there used to be little rancour between the different family members who were always eager to support one another. Women were then viewed not just as paramours or objects of beauty; they were not just bedfellows, they were also mothers under whose feet lay paradise, the sisters who tied the rakhi on the wrists of their brothers and the daughters whom the parents treated like precious jewels. If the wives were beaten by some illiterates then, they are beaten no less now and not by the illiterates but by the highly educated and highly placed husbands. The girls were not assaulted in their own houses, and anyone found eve-teasing them in the streets had to face the wrath of society. The woman of today is free only to be exploited. It is not only her charm that is abused. In the so-called developed world, woman has much fewer chances of becoming a high-class officer or a leading politician than of becoming a sex-worker, a cabaret-dancer, a model, a receptionist and a saleswoman. And if she is working, her ordeal does not end; the more she concentrates on her career the more her family suffers. Mind it: Her own family, her own husband and her own children who want to share some moments of delight with her but have to adjust without. As a result, the husband often finds solace in someone else’s arms or in a bottle of whisky; and the children grow as psychiatric abnormals. The fate of today’s woman as a human being living in peace is totally sealed. If she decides to stay at home for the sake of her family, she has to live under the burden of unfulfilled ambitions. If she goes out, she faces the threat of assault, even rape, and alienation of her dearest ones. And because it is only her physical charm that sells, it is only between the ages of 16 and 35, 40 at the most, that she is most wanted in the market. Once her charm vanishes, her career is also on the downslide. The people hovering around her decrease in number and she feels neglected; her glorious past haunts her but that cannot return. And it is between 16 and 40 as well that she is most wanted at her home. The truth is that if the modern civilization developed by the economic fundamentalists has harmed any one most -- though it harmed everybody--it is woman. Her liberty has in fact made her a permanent captive of the public. She looks at herself only with the glasses of man. No wonder then that she has miserably failed to discover herself.
If there is one field in which the modern civilization may claim to have actually benefited mankind, it is the field of medicine. Certainly, there are many diseases that have now become treatable or preventable, namely, the infectious diseases like Tuberculosis, Cholera, Leprosy, Meningitis, Smallpox, Measles, Poliomyelitis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, etc. But, economic fundamentalism has largely undone the great work done by the medical scientists by making the people adopt a lifestyle that makes them susceptible to a large number of ailments -- Chronic Bronchitis, Buerger’s disease, Ischaemic Heart Diseases, Hypertension, Peptic Ulcer, Diabetes mellitus, Cancers, especially of lung, mouth and breast, Arthritis, Spondylitis, Cirrhosis, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, AIDS, Psychoses and neuroses, and many other. It is indeed difficult to infer if man today actually faces less threat to his health than in the past. Whatever increase in the average age has been noticed in the last few decades is chiefly, due to reduced Infant Mortality Rate. This reduction is counter-balanced by the high rate of foeticide; more children are killed every year by way of abortion than are saved by vaccines and antibiotics.
In conclusion, the balance sheet of the modern world’s achievements is not at all encouraging. It is in fact greatly depressing, because with the scientific knowledge and technical know-how that the world possesses, man must have been physically healthier, socially safer and mentally more peaceful. But he is not; and this is because economic fundamentalism has been rapidly destroying whatever the world has been gaining through the labour and dedication of scientists. The civilization the modern world boasts of is in truth in a moribund state. It is therefore very much a pertinent question: are we not living in darker age than the “dark ages”?
There is little doubt that economic fundamentalism has established its deep roots in the present world. Its march towards its destination has till now been extraordinarily rapid and without facing any formidable resistance. The plan of its growth has been so meticulously designed and so subtly executed that the opponents have not even been able to fully realize what actually is transpiring and why. It however does not mean that the economic fundamentalists do not at all face challenges. Several problems -- big or small, temporary or permanent, confront them; and they have to find ways to manage them in a way so that they either remain unscathed or the damage is minimised. These problems are multifold.
First, they do not want to be viewed by the masses as exploiters, oppressors and killers. They wish to be respected and remembered as saviours, not the tormentors of mankind. Moreover, they want to distract the attention of the common people from the real issues. They are therefore often in search of such issues as look or can be made to look humanitarian and at the same time their solution has some inherent advantages for the market or at least has no destructive effect on it. More often than not, these are the problems of industries but they project and propagate these as if they are the maladies of the whole world. And if the two combine, that is, a problem of the industry happens to be a problem of the world as well, it helps the fundamentalists to redouble their efforts. It can be easily seen that no campaign being assiduously projected at the global level as a major issue on the pretension of humanitarian grounds is without a commercial motive. Let us briefly discuss some of them.
The most notable campaign, in terms of its extensiveness as well as intensity in the post-War era that has, in one form or the other, become a part of the national policy of almost all the governments functioning in any region of the world, has been the population control programme. It has been pursued in varying intensities not only by the countries that have been under the influence of the West but also by several hard-core socialist countries including China, non-aligned countries like India, Egypt and Cuba and the Islamic countries like Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. That the programme is not without substance is also evident from the fact that it had its inception when capitalism and socialism were at each other’s throat. If the communist countries have also adopted and aggressively pursued it, it could not essentially have been anti-people. Yet, if during the last few decades the implementation of the programme has received extraordinary thrust, it is because the big business has developed several interests in its pursuance. It may be true that the population is growing at a rate considered fast by the experts. It may also be true that such rapid growth of population escalates several problems. If the infectious diseases cause mortality and morbidity at alarming rates, the mothers still die during deliveries, a sizeable percentage of infants do not remain alive to celebrate their first birthday and out of the rest many more die in their paediatric age owing to lack of nutritious food and unavailability of good medical care and cities are becoming overcrowded, the population growth may be a significant contributory factor. But there are other factors related with the issues that are conveniently forgotten. Disinformation is generously used to further the birth control programme. For example, the impression has been usually disseminated that a steep rise in population would create shortage of food. The studies by the organisations monitoring food production have been categorical in proving that the rise in food production in the last half century has been greater than the rise in population. If the people still starve it is because the food is not allowed to reach them. It can be said with confidence that if the distribution of food becomes equitable, no human being on the earth will remain hungry. The earth allows birth of only as many humans as it can sustain. The economic fundamentalists know this. This is why some economists have gone to the extent in their argument that increase in food production must not be allowed to occur because if the food production rises the population will naturally expand to consume it. It can theefore be the reason why the food is not allowed to reach all the corners of the earth; if it reaches all humans it would save many a lives from starvation. This would obviously cause an increase in population. Once there are no more deaths owing to starvation, the drive for population control will receive further setback. Why exactly the economic fundamentalists seek to keep population under control is explained below.
Another point that has entirely been missed is that the total bio-mass of the earth remains the same. If the human population grows the population of animals would decrease; and if the human population is reduced by natural or artificial means the animal population would increase. The question arises: should we reduce the number of human beings and increase the population of beasts? If the human population has always continued to increase, it is because Nature wants to replace the less developed creatures with the better developed. Should we endeavour to interfere with this natural phenomenon? Similarly, in order to popularise family welfare programmes, the advertisements suggest that early marriage is detrimental to the health of the girl. This again may be disputable; if Nature has made her physically capable to reproduce, the probability of damage to her body would be minimal, provided of course she takes adequate diet and receives appropriate medical care, which is essential as well for the older mothers. Conversely, it has been very well documented by the gynaecologists that the chances of congenital abnormalities in children and certain kinds of malignancies (cancers) of women rise with increase in the age of the mothers. The best period for procreation is below thirty. Family welfare programmes are definitely worth following as far as their objective is to save the mothers and children from diseases and death; proper spacing is essential; avoidance of pregnancies in mothers who are ill or when their other children are not healthy and if the income of the family is too meagre to sustain a large family is also understandable. But is the programme really aimed at alleviating the problems of the common people? Unfortunately not. There is much more to what meets the eyes. Behind the “mercifulness” for the poor are several undeclared motives.
One, by fixing the blame of every problem of the world on the population growth, the economic fundamentalists are able to divert the attention of the people from their own sinister games that are in truth responsible for the sweeping poverty. When less than five per cent have more than ninety per cent of the country’s income (and wealth) in India for example, how a growth of less than two percent per annum is going to aggravate the problems? Despite the high rate of population growth, the country has become self-reliant in food production and is now in a position to export it. Yet the poverty haunts about half of the nation. Even if the population growth becomes zero, with the continuous flow of wealth from the poor to the rich and from the richer to the richest, would the situation show any signs of improvement even in decades? The situation warrants harsh measures and requires that the holders of the ninety per cent of the wealth of the country are made, either through force or through change in policies, to share the benefits of their wealth with the rest of the countrymen. It is not the explosion of “population bomb” but that of the bomb of myth that frightens the economic fundamentalists; lest the people should know the truth, it is better to keep them engaged in debates on the adverse effects of population growth.
Two, the big industries know that a big family uses a big portion of its income in purchasing food items. Rest is utilised in purchasing clothes that too are usually of cheap variety produced by small industries. Little money is left with it to buy costly consumer goods manufactured by the big industry. It tends to assist agricultural growth (and that of small scale industry) at the cost of industrial growth. It is essential therefore that the size of the family remains small so that it can save enough money to bestow on the big industries.
Three, the popularisation of contraceptive devices through promotion of small family norms is a great boon for the industrialists. Through these programmes, men and women are informed and conditioned with the use of methods for avoiding unwanted pregnancies. This awareness helps the commercial sex. If women had not become fearless on this account, promiscuity could never have become common. Furthermore, through the marketing of various contraceptive devices, the industries earn billions.
Fourth, encouraging men and women to marry as late as possible again immensely benefits the market including sex market. The young working women in big numbers means opportunities for dating, which helps food, fashion, hotel and many other industries. Sex market too thrives. For the sustenance of the flesh-trade, demand and supply are essential; and if the people start marrying as soon as they attain puberty, the market would take a nosedive. It is hardly surprising therefore that, to achieve success in population control, encouragement to promiscuity has been advanced by the Western experts as a method to discourage people from early marriage. It is also for the same reason that the so-called champions of human rights do never raise their voice against the killing of millions of children by way of abortion every year. The truth is that the so-called family welfare programmes are aimed at the disintegration of the family system because the family system is not consistent with the “development” model. The weaker the family system the more likely the members of the family are to spend money in the consumer and sex-market helping the “development” in the process.
After population control, human rights have been the most popular issue at the global level. The modern concept of human rights also originated from the West. Superficially, it again looks a very attractive slogan. West feared that the kind of economic fundamentalism it had decided to aggressively pursue had same very serious adverse effects. It would engender barbarism in society in the form of steep rise in all forms of crimes including murder, rape, robbery and bribe. It would also enhance societal tensions as well as psychiatric illnesses. If these really happened, it would give a bad name to their ideology. To counter this, the economic fundamentalists sought to impart a new meaning to ‘human rights’ so that the darker face of their civilization could not come to the fore; and they could use the brighter side to attack the systems tat were unwilling to accept the West’s economic hegemony. The result of such re-orientation has been that the human rights situation in a country is not assessed on the basis of crimes in that area but on how the accused in various crimes are being treated by the governmental institutions and agencies. Apparently, the human rights organisations argue that they safeguard the people against excesses. But in reality, they only serve the criminals and saboteurs of social peace. What happens to the victims of a crime and their relatives does not bother them; their function is only to follow the trial of the accused. It has already been discussed that the economic fundamentalists have vested interests in the paralysed legal system because the criminals and crimes form an indispensable part of their operations. The criminals are supported in more than one way. If they or their crimes have any political dimensions the champions of human rights are quick to label their trial as ‘political vendetta’. While it is true that the governments tend to be less kind towards their opponents and often use the stick of law to punish them, it is equally true that all political forces have some nexus with the criminals who are used to creating ugly situations for the ruling party or coalition. This side of the coin is however intentionally ignored. The human rights organisations never publish reports on the crime-situation in different countries and never pressurise the governments to drastically reduce them so that the common people can pass their lives without fears. Such reports would unveil their own faces and fingers will be at against Western ideologies.
“Women’s Rights” is yet another extremely favourite subject with the Amnesties and the Human Rights Watchers. And it is needless to repeat that the major aim behind all the raucous is to assist the merchants of sex and barons of consumer industry. Why is it that “purdah” annoys them but prostitution does not? Why has the Amnesty, the self-proclaimed champion of human rights, never bothered to tell the world that there cannot be a bigger crime against womanhood than its sordid commercialisation and a civilization cannot claim to be a true human civilization if it creates a social environment, in which women have to sell their bodies? It takes extraordinary pains to highlight the cases of rapes in police custody or in prisons but its eyes do not bleed at the thousands of rapes the innocent women have to suffer daily all over the world. If it begins to describe the strategies of the commercial exploitation of women nothing else would be required to prove its credentials. But the truth is that the Amnesty is damnesty, which is only a mouthpiece of the economic fundamentalists; its aim is limited to glorify Westernism and degrade every other system .One of the issues Amnesty and other organisations have continuously been raising at different platforms is that of child labour, an issue ostensibly inspired by humanist sentiments. There can hardly be anybody not moved by the concern shown for the innocent children who, instead of going to schools, have to earn their livelihood in factories and fields. They often have to work in highly wretched conditions. The situation needs prompt redress. But, is this concern for child labour the only or the real motive behind the worldwide campaign? The economic fundamentalist support many good causes but only when this “good” is also in their interest. The actual motivating force in the Child Labour issue is the strategy of big industries to throttle the small sector so that they can expand their own market. They know that the small scale industries may be individually small but combined they have a sizeable share in the world economy. They reckon that these industries survive only because they can get relatively cheap labour in the form of young children; once this labour goes beyond their reach, they would not be able to compete with the big industries and would be left with no option but to wind up. Why should the circulation of money remain confined between the owners of small scale businesses and their clients without the involvement of big business? The economic fundamentalists neglect the fact that these children are the bread-earners for themselves and their extremely poor families where each member has to financially contribute to survive. According to the UNICEF’s the State of the World’s Children 1997 Report, child workers worldwide are estimated to be more than 400 millions. The majority of them live in the Third World countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Some of them are also there in the developed countries like the US, the UK and France. In India, these children form a major part of the bangle industry in Firozabad district of Uttar Pradesh, in which 25% of 50,000 workers are children in the beedi industry, carpet industry, slate industry, match industry, silk industry and wood carving industry in Saharanpur. These figures clearly indicate that these children are performing extremely important economic activity in the developing countries. If child labour is strictly and effectively banned, who would suffer? Of course, the families of these children and the small industries in which they are involved. Once this is done, the fundamentalists know, even if it involves spending of a few hundred million rupees for the education of these children (which would mean that these children would then be fit enough to serve the big industries), the way will be clear for them to expand their own carpet industry, synthetic clothes industry and cigarette industry; many other industries will also benefit. This in truth is the crux of the whole matter. As the multinational companies expect to ultimately capture the whole market of the developing world, the developed world has vested interests in turning the mole into a mountain. If one is really serious about the welfare of child workers, one should first ensure that the small scale industries earn enough to hire labour at reasonable costs and the parents of these child-workers make enough money to provide them with nice education. They must also feel secure that their children, if educated, will get good jobs or will be able to establish their own businesses. The small scale industries may thrive only if their products receive due coverage in the media and incessant efforts are made to popularise their products. They can do this only if the government comes to their rescue. But the MNCs would never permit this. Unless the small scale industries are effectively promoted, it will be suicidal to lure the child-workers away from their present work. It will kill the small-scale industries, and will create insurmountable problems for their families.
There always exist some elements in society whose hearts bleed at the sight of the plight of the weak, the oppressed and the downtrodden. They also have the brain and the will required to recognise the real forces behind the oppression, the poverty and the exploitation; and possess indomitable courage to challenge them. Their desire to set things right and alleviate the problems of the common people often bring them face to face with the economic fundamentalists. And the fundamentalists, who have many skeletons in their cupboard, prefer to avoid a direct fight; they use alternative methods to outsmart their opponents. This will be explained with the help of a few examples.
When the medical experts discovered that cigarette smoking was extremely dangerous for health and caused several diseases like lung cancer and chronic bronchitis and enhances the chances of heart attacks and peptic ulcers and, in case of the mother being a smoker, has also a damaging effect on the foetus, there was an outcry against smoking all over the world. Several health organisations and institutions campaigned for a blanket ban on smoking. The enormity of evidences against smoking as a killer was too much to give the industries any chance to muster arguments to the satisfaction of the foes of smoking. But they were not ready to bear the loss that would occur if the tobacco industry was closed. Money was dearer to them than the lives of people. And they had handy support for them in the government, which also benefited from the tobacco industry. The media was already in their hands and there were a large number of intellectuals who had the pen to manufacture logics. If money comes their way, they would produce fascinating logics against ban on smoking. The first of their arguments was that the individuals had the right to choose whatever they liked; others had no business to stop them. If smoking adversely affects their health or kills them, it is after all their own life. The second argument was that education was the right way to wean people away from smoking; awareness rather than compulsion was the method of choice to keep them away from cigarettes. When they finally realize the damaging effect of smoking on their health, they would be more than willing to give it up forever. To make it sure that before they hold a cigarette between their lips, they know what they are up to, the cigarette packets could have a statutory warning: smoking is injurious to health. In some countries, when the opposition grew, it was also conceded that the advertisements promoting cigarettes would not appear in the government-owned media. The tobacco manufacturers were confident that if legal ban could somehow be averted, with the passage of time the campaign would slow down and whatever the impact of awareness programmes could have been upon the consumers would be neutralised by the glorification of smoking through films and other media. They have proved right. The masses have almost compromised with the situation. Cigarettes continue to attract the consumers and earnings through them have been multiplying and now again they are busy sponsoring national and international sports events, the 1996 World Cup in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka being one of the examples; it was sponsored by the Wills. Benson & Hedges regularly sponsor the one-day matches in Australia. When recently several cases were filed for compensation against the tobacco companies in the US and the companies came under tremendous pressure, they conceded to pay compensation to the smokers suffering from lung cancers and other diseases. Yet again, they have succeeded in thwarting the campaign for total ban on manufacturing; and very soon the world would know that these companies have lost virtually nothing.
The third argument advanced by the cigarette producers was that they were one of the major sources of revenue for the government that charges excise duty on cigarettes. As will be seen below in the case of alcohol industry, this argument too holds no water.
Drinking too like smoking has time and again been the target of moralists and social activists. In most of the Islamic countries, the sale of liquor is legally prohibited and in India too, prohibition is in force in several states. The evidences have continued to accumulate to show that mortality and morbidity due to alcohol-related diseases are ever on the rise. More than 3 million people annually die due to problems directly related to smoking. Alcohol is also responsible for a sizeable percentage of accidents and there are conclusive proofs that, under its influence the chances of committing crimes, including murder, rape, and suicide increase manifold. But again, the alcohol industry has advanced the same outlandish logics to keep their business intact as have the tobacco manufacturers. In addition, there have also been brazen attempts to increase social acceptability of liquor by stating that it is useful for cardiovascular health. Yet another logic advanced by the alcohol lobbyists is that if prohibition is enforced, house-made cheap liquor would become common signalling threat to the lives of consumers. Thus, while the media hardly if ever gives coverage to alcohol-linked deaths, crimes, accidents and suicides, as soon as sales of liquor are banned in some part of the world, it starts carrying out news about marketing of illicit liquor and the deaths caused by it. The alcohol industry and its protagonists, like the cigarette industry, have also played the card of loss of revenue to the government. Their claim that prohibition would cause huge economic loss has little substance. It superficially looks well founded because many important points are advertently ignored. Distinction has to be made between national loss and governmental loss. In the case of prohibition, there is no national loss, as the money of the people that used to be spent in buying the bottles is now saved. The money remains within the country and its reallocation takes place. A substantial part of it would go to the banks that are mostly nationalised. The rest would be spent in purchasing other items like fruits, milk, ice-creams, cold drinks, clothes and other consumer items. Furthermore, money will not go out of the country in exchange of foreign-made liquor. The government would not only benefit from the money deposited in the banks but will also receive sales tax and excise duties from several items purchased by the money saved. Thus it would improve the health and socioeconomic status of the common people and the loss of revenue to the government would be much less than what is projected. The government will also save money it spends on the hospitals dealing with the patients of alcoholism. The accidents and crimes would witness substantial decline. One of the major advantages of course is that the family lives of those who used to drink would immensely improve; their women and children will be the greatest beneficiaries. The ban in fact will not lead to any loss to the nation. On the contrary, production would improve. The marginal employment generated as a result of the closure of alcohol industry would in due course of time be plugged. Whatever little loss the government might face can be compensated through alternative routes of revenue generation. It must be accepted that huge losses to nation cannot be allowed to occur for providing a few coins to the government. Furthermore, public health and social order are too important to be side-lined for pure economic considerations.
The economic fundamentalists have also realised that a number of social organisations have been playing a significant role in mobilising the people against their exploitative practices. Most of these organisations have either leftist inclinations or are motivated by ethical and religious sentiments. They understand the truth that there are always some people in society who derive immense spiritual pleasure in working for the welfare of people. No amount of efforts can completely materialise the thinking of all the inhabitants of the earth. For example, the environmentalists all over the world have shown great dedication and have been successful in pressurising the parliaments and assemblies to enact laws for safeguarding the environment. In recent times, even environmental issues seem to have been hijacked by the big business to asphyxiate small scale industries. Similarly, the labour unions and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have many a time succeeded in mobilising labourers and common people against the interests of the big business. The mill-owners use certain, overt or covert, methods to weaken the labour unions. Threats and allurements have been used to sow seeds of discord among the leaders of the unions. In countries like the US, the promulgation of the right to work has also been misused for distancing the workers from the labour unions. As the activities of the NGOs in the past have mostly been detrimental to their interests, the economic fundamentalists have recently discovered a highly effective method to put brakes on the NGOs. They know that the NGOs are most of the time in want of money and many social activists have political and financial motives. If these organisations are offered money for continuation of their activities, most of them would not be able to resist the temptation. It will then not be difficult to engage them in activities that are ostensibly humanistic but have hidden advantages for the “growth” of economy. This new concept of involving the NGOs gained momentum in the late 1980s and 90s and a large number of socioeconomic programmes (of course of the choice of the big business) are now being implemented through them. These include population control, literacy, vaccination,. AIDS control, child labour and other social awareness programmes. Obviously, almost all these programmes are in tune with the point of view of the economic fundamentalists. The social activists are now increasingly involved in campaigns planned either by the government or other funds-giving agencies most of which are funded by the international institutions. They are now least interested in highlighting the real problems faced by society and are busy motivating the people in accordance with the borrowed plans. Many of them, for example, are intensively campaigning to mobilise public opinion in favour of legalising prostitution. The funny argument being advanced with ever-increasing intensity is that as it is not practical to ban “the oldest profession” it would be far more advantageous to give legal sanction to it. Once “sex-workers” are licensed, it would be easy to get them medically examined at periodic intervals. It would reduce the chances of their acting as pools of sex-transmitted diseases including AIDS. The arguments are in fact manufactured to suit the interests of businessmen. Often, mutually contradictory arguments are produced to prove the indispensability of a specific action. For example, in the case of polygamy, it was never said that, as promiscuity was impossible to contain, polygamy should better be made legally permissible. Likewise, the question of practical difficulties has never stood in the way of population control programmes. Similarly, the practical problems in the use of condoms have never been questioned. This has also not occurred to them that licensing the prostitutes is even more difficult; bogus licensing would soon emerge. Furthermore, the number of “sex-workers” is so big -- usually in millions -- that it is almost impossible to examine them at short intervals and the cost will be very high. Even if they are regularly examined say at an interval of 3 months, the examination cannot guarantee that they are not in the window period, which is the period during which the blood test for HIV remains negative despite the person having already been infected. Even during this period, such a person is capable of transmitting the infection to partners. The prostitutes entertain 10-15 clients every day and may therefore infect as many as 1000 persons before being detected. Nobody likes licensing and the sex-workers would be least likely to take the pains of obtaining a license and reporting for periodic examinations. And to locate them is onerous task as they are working not only in brothels but also in hotels, streets, slums and houses.
Economic fundamentalism as an ideology has not only been embraced by the big business, it has also worked its way upwards. The governments of certain countries, predominantly the same countries which were the cradles of economic fundamentalism, have specialised the art of furthering their economic interests through whatever means possible. Since the ancient times, military power has been the chief and perhaps the only factor in the claim to supremacy in the world. This continued till the Second World War But the human and material cost of the Second World War assumed horrible proportions. The Western countries and their allies were the major participants in the War. It was also they who had to bear most of the suffering. With the end of the War, the world saw the emergence of new powers and new equations. America and Russia soon donned the mantle of Super Powers. The Western lobby led by the US, and supported among others by Britain, France, West Germany and Japan had realised that they could not afford major military confrontations any longer. They understood that the military capabilities of the two major contenders and their allies, real and potential, had reached a stage where it was impossible, in case another military confrontation ensued, to foresee a clear winner. Their military ammunition was so huge and so destructive that any full-fledged war would herald doom for the whole of mankind. The realisation had dawned on the Western block that in order to reign supreme what was required was not only the military but also the economic supremacy. It does not mean that they were no longer interested in building their military strength. But they now conspired to use their supremacy as a military power for supporting their expansionist strategies in the field of economics.
The West dreamt of becoming the lion of the world, the undisputed king but without having any responsibility. To rule over the world without having to actually administer it necessitated manoeuvring of international policies, popularisation of certain values and masterminding of the scientific and medical researches with certain specific aims. The big powers, though there was no love lost between them, had no alternative but to unite, at least for the time being and for specific purposes, to dictate terms to the rest of the world. This was to be done at various levels.
At the political level, it was decided to set up an organisation of countries, which was promptly named the United Nations Organisation, now known as the United Nations. Every country of the world would be brought under its umbrella. The declared aim was to ensure that the catastrophe of the two World Wars would not be allowed to recur. Whenever a dispute arose between any of the member countries, the UN would intervene in order to prevent them from using force against each other. It would leave no stone unturned in diluting the hostilities and bring them at the negotiating table. The ostensible purpose was of course admirable; and it undoubtedly played a significant role in the later years in bringing peace in certain regions of the world. But the big powers would not allow the United Nations to be totally independent because if it dispensed Solomon’s justice it would be creating tedious problems for them. How could they tolerate the smaller nations, on account of their combined numerical strength, insulting them? It was therefore resolved that the nations with big military strength be bestowed upon with the power of Veto. They would also become permanent members of the most important wing of the UN, the Security Council. The countries originally endued with the Veto power were the United Stated, Britain, France, and Soviet Union. After several years, China, which had earlier not joined the UN, was also persuaded to be its member, in return of the acceptance of its demand to be given the status of a big power. The result was that only 5 of about 180 nations became more equal among equals. The matters continue to be raised at the UN platforms. But a resolution can be adopted only if it is acceptable to the big five. The same people who boast themselves to be the champions of democracy have found ways to flaunt democratic norms themselves. With the right to Veto having been usurped by 'the big five', nothing can happen in the UN unless it has their sanction. By creating the UN, they have succeeded in distributing the world among themselves-- not through military interventions but courtesy the extraordinary powers showered upon them by the assembly of nations. Yet, whenever the situation warrants, each of 'the big five' does not fail in exercising the “military option”. If the issue is at all raised in the UN, any resolution against the interests of that country is promptly vetoed. Little wonder the veto power has been used umpteen times; every time it has been used, it has invariably given a crushing blow to a small nation and more often than not to justice. What a travesty of justice that it is the will of the big powers and not the truth that prevails. Yet each of 'the big five' claims itself to be the only champion of justice and peace. The lions are periodically hungry that makes them go on the hunting spree; as soon as their stomachs are full they become peace-loving animals.
Till the 1980s, the intense rivalry remembered by history as ‘cold war’ between the US and the USSR had both positive and negative impact. The positive contribution of the cold war was that it established a sort of equilibrium in the world. The American and Soviet allies were beware of one another and were often reluctant to make expansionist moves. The world had become divided into two blocks. If a country belonging to one block invaded a country belonging to the other block or tried to unduly influence it, the other side would immediately spring into action. Resolutions of condemnation, breaking of diplomatic relations and threats, overt and covert, of different kinds would follow. The matter would be repeatedly raised on the various fora of the United Nations, though more often than not it would end in a veto. Yet by raising the issue at different platforms and also by intensive propaganda through the media, each block would try to paint the other in the darkest possible colours. This would sometimes help as it happened in Afghanistan, from where Russia had to ultimately withdraw its troops. The negative impact of ‘the cold war’ was that the world virtually got divided into two blocks. On paper, there were many nonaligned nations; but in practice, each one of them too supported and was supported by the US or the USSR. The two superpowers had made rest of the world a playground for their games; all other countries were being used as mere pawns. They would often back the two nations engaged in hostilities only to increase their own influence or to increase the sales of their arms.
The economic crisis in the Soviet Union, which made communism unpopular among the masses, compelled Gorbachev to give up hostility towards the US. He had no option left for him except to extend a hand of friendship towards its biggest foe. The people in the USSR had started feeling asphyxiated under the communist umbrella that provided little freedom to them. There were no incentives for working. The revolutionary fervour had faded long ago. The leadership was no more in a position to enthuse them into action .Gorbachev had realised that the controlled economy was no longer expected to deliver the goods. He knew that the US and its allies fully understood his predicaments and they would hesitate the least to fish in troubled waters. He therefore gave a call to end the cold war. His call was promptly heeded. The US and its allies behaved as if they had forgotten all the past acrimonies and were now interested only in restructuring the USSR economy. Little however did Gorbachev realise that even in friendship the US and its allies would not mind using every possible opportunity for their own ulterior motives. For the Western block it was a moment of jubilation. The time had come when the enemy number one of their economic ideology, the communism could be buried, if possible, forever. Initially, they heaped encomia on Gorbachev for having initiated glasnot and perestroica. But soon they realized that his policy was not to abandon communism but to bring certain reforms and once the Soviet economy stabilised he or those who follow him could rejuvenate their campaign against capitalism and against the Western expansionist designs with renewed vigour. The West therefore soon became disinterested in the continuation of Gorbachev as leader of the Soviet Union. They were in quest of a better alternative and in Yeltsin they found an ideal replacement. Boris Yeltsin’s faith in the Western economic system was quite well established. The US and its allies knew that with the arrival of Yeltsin on the scene communism would easily be sentenced to death. And as soon as Yeltsin assumed power, he was quick to strike at every remaining sign of the communist past.
The US had thus achieved the most crucial victory. The erstwhile Soviet Union was no more a single state. It had disintegrated into several small autonomous states. Russia that had for about half a century been the biggest custodian of socialism had taken a U turn towards capitalism. There was little opposition left for the expansion of Western economic fundamentalism. China, despite preserving its socialistic credentials, had already started “opening” its market.
But Islamic resurgence in West Asia emerged as another bone of contention. The US and its allies had shifted all their attention to the new threat. Islamic resurgence had been gaining ground in many Muslim countries. Malaysia had witnessed the emergence of an Islamist in the form of Mahathir Muhammad who cleverly combined Islamic zeal with modern technology, which within two decades would see the emergence of a big economic power in the region. Life in Indonesia had started showing visible impact of Islam. Pakistan was being Islamised by Zia ul Haq who at the same time kept close ties with the US. The expulsion of Russian forces in Afghanistan had paved the way for an Islamic rule there.
The US did everything in its power to stall Islam from rising as a dominant force. When Islamic groups emerged victorious in Algerian elections, the Western forces did not allow the democracy to function and beckoned to the army to take over. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait gifted the biggest opportunity to the US to increase its hold in the area. It amassed a huge coalition under its leadership and invaded Iraq, forcing Saddam Hussein to pull out of Kuwait. For the first time, the US forces established bases on the soil of Saudi Arabia regarded as the Holy Land by Muslims. Though the US attacked Iraq for the stated purpose of liberating Kuwait, Muslim masses would not tolerate the US intervention in the affairs of Islamic countries. The hatred for the US achieved new heights, which was not diluted by the American intervention in Bosnia where hundreds of thousands of Muslims were brutally killed by the forces of Millesowich. Most Muslims believed that the US remained a silent spectator of the carnage of their fellow brothers, which continued for several years. The US intervened, they believed, only when its own strategic interests in Europe faced imminent threat from the Serb ruler. The US action in Bosnia could have still carried some weight had the US not continued to support Israel against Palestinians whose plight was intolerable for almost all the denizens of the Muslim world.
Then September 11 2001 came. Though no terrorist organisation claimed responsibility for these orchestrated attacks on American soil, the US administration was quick to point finger at the Al-Qaeda led by Osama Ben Laden, a man of Saudi origin who had close ties with CIA in the Afghan resistance against Russia. This was the “defining moment” for the US. It could have acted in many different ways. The delicateness of the position of the only Super Power of the world at that critical juncture was understandable. A tiger had been challenged in its own den. It was natural for the tiger to be furious, ready to pounce, whoever it thought could have been behind the attacks. Yet, instead of fighting “terrorism” with human wisdom, it chose to fight it with the instincts of the wild animal. The US could have given a serious thought as to why there was a growing hatred in the Muslim world for its policies. It could have invited an international debate to discuss what was required to minimise the hatred. It could have taken Islamic clerics and intellectuals into confidence. Instead it chose to threaten the whole world; the jaw was demonstrated and the teeth ground implying that anyone not ready to abide the orders of the king would be crushed and engulfed. With all of its might, the US attacked Afghanistan, reduced its already dilapidated cities to ruins, killed thousands of innocents along with Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters and replaced the Government of Mullah Omar with its puppet government of Karzai. The Muslim world was furious; their fury however had an empty jaw with no teeth.
Many Muslims had reconciled to the attacks by the US on Afghanistan. They felt it would perhaps silence the fury of the wounded tiger. The end of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime provided a golden opportunity again for the US to bury the hatchet and concentrate on improving the relationship with Muslim masses. It had already dismantled the infrastructure of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It could have continued to hunt its elements while trying to befriend Muslims in general. But the tiger’s anger had not subsided. It was ready to engulf another prey, which in its mind, and only in its mind, was a threat to it; none in the world could see what the tiger was trying to show them. Without waiting for the UN inspectors to find Weapons of Mass Destruction, the US embarked upon a mission, which would prove to be nothing more than a mission of hatred: which would flare the flames of terrorism rather than extinguishing them; which would make ordinary Muslims believe the US and its allies were bent upon destroying, with their innumerable weapons of mass destruction, the very existence of their religion, their culture and their sovereignty. What followed was nothing but shear madness. Iraq was invaded with the overwhelming might of the US and allied forces. Saddam Hussein was overthrown soon. But the real carnage followed after his exit. Even those who hated Saddam Hussein soon turned enemies of the allied forces. Insurgency emerged strongly and has continued even after several years of invasion. About three hundred thousands of Iraqis have lost lives. American and British forces started facing an uphill task in controlling the insurgency. Ultimately, they worked on an exit strategy.
But nothing has worked so far. The Iraq invasion has totally annihilated the sympathy that had been generated all over the world for the US in the wake of 9/11. The hatred for the US policies has now become ubiquitous. Subsequently, the US changed its strategy from imposing wars to encouraging civil wars and exporting armed rebellions.
In recent years, Western role has been prominently there in all the conflicts in the Middle East. But again, it can be seen that their weapons go to the side, which toes their lines, and against those which have refused to surrender to their diktats. And always, the media would blame the loss of lives on the forces that are not pro-West.
In Syria and Libya, they supported the rebels, supplying huge weaponry and all the intelligence required for their operations and held the governments responsible for the bloodshed. In Libya, they succeeded in toppling Gaddafi, in Syria they failed to defeat Assad. In Yemen, they are supporting the President, who has fled to Saudi Arab, an American ally, against rebels who have already taken over the Palace as well as major areas of the country. In Egypt, they helped the military stage a coup against an elected President.
It was about this time that people all over the world suddenly started hearing about Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It became the most dreaded terrorist organisation overnight when it captured large area in Iraq. But West knew ISIS for more than two years when it had confined its activities to Syria. They were the major suppliers of manpower and weaponry to ISIS when it was battling Assad but are now bombarding them, as they now threaten American allies in the region. ISIS was allowed to prosper in Syria through all kinds of support in the hope that they will topple Assad, and West calculated that once ISIS topples Assad, they would move in to topple ISIS. Now their worry is that Russia has jeopardised their plan by swiftly moving in Syria and severely crippling ISIS within two months. ISIS was the creation of West and its fighters were mainly from Europe who were allowed to travel to Syria just because West wanted to change the regime there. Now on the verge of defeat, ISIS fighters are hitting back at the countries which sent them.
But the globalisation of the world, which is equal to westernisation of the globe, continues despite disturbances. The “fruits” of globalisation—read Americanisation—were now the talking-point at all the international fora, even before they were visible anywhere. Free market economy has now become the order of the day. The technological advancement has brought the satellite TV into every home, even in the underdeveloped countries. And through those TV channels commenced the most devastating attack on the socioeconomic system and culture of the countries, which had till now been making conscious efforts to preserve their own roots. But anything that is not consistent with the demands of market would not be permitted to persist. The invasion of the “obscurantist” cultures and forces still continues; it is facing hardly any resistance worth mentioning and one territory after the other is being ransacked by the invaders.
The UN is not the only organisation at the international level used as an instrument by the West, led by the US, for colonising the whole world. An international body was set up in almost every field; and invariably these bodies understood and propagated only those ideologies that suited the Western economic interests. International Monetary Fund and World Bank have always been “guiding” the “underdeveloped” nations to achieve high rate of “development”. And in the guise of guidance and by providing monetary assistance, which is always for those projects which are expected to help the economic fundamentalists in the long term, these organisations have been blackmailing those countries to toe their policies. The third world countries have been successfully lured into a debt trap; once a country falls in the trap, it has no option but to follow their dictate. GATT and other such agreements and treaties have ensured that whatever little the West transfers to the developing nations would have to return huge profits for it. The globalisation has guaranteed that all the business activities occurring anywhere in the world would garner a substantial share for the Western industrialists. By continuously popularising the new technologies as indispensable for modernisation and development, they have made sure that the goods continue to flow from the developed to the developing nations, and the money keeps transferring from the developing nations to the developed. The scientific organisations like the WHO are being misused to make the world believe that whatever is designed by the Western experts is the best possible option. The Amnesty and other human rights organisations are busy in convincing the world that only the West cares for the genuine rights of men, women and children. The World Population Fund, the UNESCO and the WHO—all are hell bent on destroying the social and family values. The N.G.Os are being funded to speak the language they want them to speak. Thus every possible effort is being made to present the West, particularly America, as the role model for the rest of the world. Almost all the world organisations are dominated by the Western countries and these are being used by them to adopt such policies, programmes and plans as give them the biggest possible share in the booty.
The colonisation or neo-colonisation of the globe is thus complete. Whatever little has remained, given the present state of somnolence, will be achieved within the next few years, unless of course a catastrophe brings so much devastation that the somnolence evaporates.
Aristotle says: “Man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is more dangerous, and he is equipped with arms, meant to be used by intelligence and virtue, which he may use for worst ends”.
The extent to which economic fundamentalism has ruled every bit of life is pretty evident from what has been elaborated in the preceding pages. The world today is being, ruthlessly, ruled by economic tyrants. Their domination is too complete to allow any appreciable resistance to build. The media are in their control; the politicians drive political mileage out of their money-power; the bureaucrats, willingly or unwillingly, play into their hands pushing plans and policies of their choice; the technocrats serve their designs painting the picture in the colour of their liking; the economists float theories, criteria and data suiting their game-plan; the world organisations – political, scientific or financial, implement the programmes the way they deem fit; the judges are brain-washed to contemplate the way they want, and pronounce judgements accordingly; the religious scholars have become, either their slaves, or are bereft of any physical or moral authority; and the social activists have been successfully motivated to engage in the “welfare” programmes sponsored by them. The majority of people do not have any inking as to what has been transpiring at different levels; the few who have some idea, do not possess the will, courage and resources to influence the public opinion; their hands are too strongly tied to cause any change in the course of events. What is happening in the world today is like a one-day cricket match, where the masses have nothing in their power except to pay to watch the proceedings of the match, and the players who seem to play the game are being made to play by the organisers, who remain behind the scene, and yet they control everything, from the selection of date, time and place to the selection of players and sponsors; as soon as a player fails to live up to the expectations, he is sacked; if he wants to continue in the team, he will have to perform according to the standards set by the organisers.
The situation is undoubtedly gloomy, yet, the world has to change, and change for the better; what has been going on cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged. Despite the all-pervading influence of the big business, the one fact that stands out is the ultimate debauchedness of the economic fundamentalists on the money provided by the masses, and their inclinations. The masses still hold the key; if they decide to hit back, the few Multinational Companies cannot face their wrath.
If the world is to be saved, the transformation has to be effectively brought about. But for any worthwhile change to occur, first the methods to bring it about are to be properly screened. The best method, of course, will be to undo whatever wrong the economic fundamentalists have done in establishing their rude. Before that, however, it is imperative to clearly visualise the aims of the whole exercise. The first and foremost objective of any developmental -- economic, scientific or social activity must be to ensure a wholesome life for mankind. Though the ability to avail as many items of comfort as possible may be desirable, the ultimate goal must be to build a world where every individual is free from diseases, tensions and external threats to life, property and honour. To be free from diseases requires an environment that is pollution-free, surroundings that are dirt-fee and eatables and drinkables that are germ-free; in addition the eatables and drinkables must be nutritious, and must not be injurious to health. To be free from tensions requires peace of mind that comes from the ability to earn, at least, as much as is essential for one’s family, and proper relationship between parents, spouses and children, the three essential components of family. To be free from external threats to life, property and honour requires a society that is free of crime, oppression and exploitation. To be concise, individual health, family peace and social order must be the three basic aims; all the activities, whatever field they may be associated with, must be guided as well as limited by ‘the trio’. Any good or action that seriously hampers any one of the three must not be permissible in a civilized society; if society permits them, it may be anything but civilized.
Having categorically stated that, it automatically follows that there can be no place for absolute freedom or liberty in society. Those that campaign for this have ulterior motives; they, in fact, seek absolute freedom only for themselves, their employers or their patrons.
The size of the earth is limited, the resources available to human beings are limited, and their desires and ambitions are mutually destructive. If every individual becomes absolutely free to act in whatever manner he chooses, all humans will consume one another. It also means that all humans are inter-dependent. Aristotle had commented: “No one would choose the whole world on condition of being alone since man is a potential creature and one whose nature is to live with others” (Ethics). If all human beings have to live together, and all the needs and ambitions of all of them cannot be realized, there is no alternative but to erect well-defined boundaries. The question remains: what should these boundaries be? There may be three kinds of system. System number one allows uninhibited liberty putting no restrictions whatsoever on human freedom except such (administrative laws, road traffic, etc.) as are essential for the very existence of that system. In this system individuals have the right to harm themselves, and even if they kill others, they still continue to have the right to live; they can engage in any business, even if it harms others, the only condition being that the people may only be lured, and not forced, to use the products of that business. This kind of system is bound to become barbaric, because human beings are selfish by nature; the ensuing competition between individuals would, ultimately, result in suppression, exploitation, crimes, tensions and diseases. System number two allows individuals no action of their choice except what is permitted by the system and the authorities working in that system. Here, individuals do not remain humans but become machines in the hands of authorities; as human system is different from the mechanical systems, in spite of freedom from some, not all, diseases and reduced external threats to life, property and honour, humans cannot be free from psychological tensions; their ambitions always remain unfulfilled, and feeling of deprivation causes several problems. Such a system is bound to fail as it does not have enough scope for individuals to fulfil even their rightful and healthy desires. In contrast to these two, system number three allows human beings a large number of activities of their own choice except a few that are, either dangerous for their own health and welfare, or for their family, or for society . There are, neither undue restrictions, nor undue liberties; the aim is to let the people achieve the highest goal of social life -- peaceful coexistence, contributing their best to it, and enjoying themselves the fruits of a peaceful society. Naturally, this system is the best, and a society having this kind of a system, can only claim itself to be a civilized society. It is this that has to be the system of the future, and all economic, social and cultural activities have to be planned aiming at the birth, survival and strengthening of this system.
With these promises, let us now begin to unfold the ways that would emancipate the world from the slavery of the economic fundamentalists.
1. Rejuvenation of the law
The Law may be regarded as the most important faculty of social organization. Without an adequate and effective legal system, civilization cannot survive. The law is essential to ensure security of each law-abiding member of society, to provide him freedom and opportunity to fulfil his needs and desires within the prescribed boundaries, and to isolate and, if need be, to eliminate those elements that pose serious threats to the life, property and honour of others.
The economic fundamentalists found it difficult, in an effective legal system, to pursue their exploitative tactics; so, they mobilised public opinion, through distorted logics, all over the world in favour of a legal system that does not adequately punish the convict, and that allows delay in justice, that more often than not, results in denial of justice. This has led to a steep rise in crime rates in all those countries where such legal system is in operation. It is high time now we recognised the vices of this system and reconsidered alternatives that would establish and maintain a crime-free (or low-crime) society.
The most glaring deficiency of almost all the prominent systems is that they emphasise only upon fundament rights, underscore fundamental duties and altogether ignore fundamental prohibitions. This two – dimensional approach is inadequate in maintaining order in society. Besides, it is inherently dangerous, as it unleashes forces of devastation in mankind. No society can maintain order and tranquility unless it has its sets of restrictions, its members do not only claim for their own rights, but are also duty-bound to help in its survival and development, and they are not in a position to, even if they want, deny others their rights. A three dimensional approach is, therefore, mandatory if the totally paralysed and redundant law has to be rejuvenated. The two-dimensional constitutions, without any express provisions of fundamental prohibitions, guarantee rights only for the strong and those rights of the weak that the strong seek to exploit. The three-dimensional approach, on the contrary, with explicit Fundamental Prohibitions, is a guarantee for the rights of all the members of society including the weak and underprivileged. Fundamental Prohibitions must be aimed at ensuring the same trio of objectives -- Individual Health, Family Peace and Social Order, the three essential components of what can be called Grand Peace.
The punishment must depend upon the effects of a particular act on individual, family or society. Murder and rape are the most heinous crimes; persons committing them have no right to live. A murderer, if he is not convicted, or receives punishment of imprisonment is often emboldened to repeat the crime. The ability of most of the murderers to escape the gallows encourages potential criminals. Presently, in majority of the countries including India, death sentence is awarded in only “the rarest of rare” cases. It must instead, be given in all cases, where the charge has been convincingly proved, except where it has been committed in self-defence or unintentionally, or the heirs of the deceased are ready to pardon him, with or without any compensation. Similarly, a rapist must be executed in full public view, except when the victim is ready to marry him. Adultery is a big crime, and must be recognised thus, because it increases the mortality and morbidity in the population due to several sexually transmitted diseases, leads to devastating effects on the family, produces social tensions of different kind and enhances the chances of sever crimes like murders and suicides. Severe punishment must, therefore, be given to the adulterers, both male and female. Lesser punishment must be reserved for the unmarried men and women indulging in sex. The persons involved in commercialisation of sex, drugs, and other addictions must also be given exemplary punishments. Apart from these crimes, thefts, robberies, bribery, gambling and other economic offences must also be included in the list of fundamental prohibitions and must be adequately punished.
It is of crucial importance that the rigorousness of punishment match the seriousness of crime; if it is less, it would encourage the criminals. It must be remembered that only a punishment equal to crime satisfies the sufferers, and if justice is denied to them, they often tend to seek alternative modes of revenge. Now the question arises: who should have the right to pardon? The propriety of justice demands that the right to pardon must rest neither with the judge nor with the head of state, but with the injured party (or his/her heirs). The duty of the court should be to establish the nature of crime, and involvement of the accused; following this, the judge should pronounce the maximum possible punishment that can be given under the given circumstances in accordance with the provisions of the law. The aggrieved party may then inform the court if it wants the maximum permissible punishment to be carried out or intends to dilute it, or has decided to altogether pardon the convict. If an accused is set free or given an inadequate punishment by the court, he may feel emboldened to commit another crime or further harass the aggrieved; if, on the other hand, his punishment, despite his crime having been established, is diluted or nullified by the benevolent intention of the aggrieved, he would feel extremely grateful towards them, and this positive gesture from their side may have a rectifying effect on his morals.
The time has come when the role of prisons in alleviating crimes should be properly scrutinised; it requires hardly any statistical data to prove that this system has been a total failure. Imprisonment reforms very few criminals and hardens most of them. It is also a great financial burden on the exchequer. In addition, the families of prisoners, too, suffer owing to the fact that they (prisoners) are in no position to earn, except whatever little remuneration they are given in jail for their hard physical work. Instead of being long, slow and ineffective, punishment must better be short, exemplary and effective, from the point of view of their ability to reform the convicts and also from that of the cost of the punishment.
There is one more area in the present legal system that needs scrutiny: the role of advocates. The advocacy for the client rather than justice, and for the falsehood rather than the truth, does not merely cause delay in judgment, it also adversely affects the view of the court. The lawyers, habitually, suppress and/or distort the facts to save the neck of their clients. As already said, the two partisan views do not, necessarily, lead to the truth. The court has no option but to rely on the evidences and arguments given by the two contending lawyers. Would it not be better to provide the judges with a staff of nonpartisan investigators, paid not by the clients but by the state? The legal specialists may thus be made to serve justice rather than private interests.
A just, swift and effective legal system is a must to ensure social order. A good legal system must be able to drastically lower the crime rate. This will encourage the duty-bound common people and the upright officers to fearlessly do their work. The economic exploitation of the weak would then surely receive a big jolt as the nexus between the criminals, politicians and the economic fundamentalists would not develop.
2. Universalisation of Religion
Attempts have been made by the economic fundamentalists to marginalise religion in society on account of the that it tends to have a sobering effect on consumerism. They know that, for continuous success in commercial pursuits, it is necessary to alter tastes of the people; religion, too, changes taste but, usually, in a direction opposite to theirs. It has been an unfortunate truth that the clerics, too, have distorted and misused religion for their personal gains. This has resulted in the emergence of strong sectarian inclinations among the religious minded. This has demarcated sections of society. People have been more interested in maintaining a particular culture (by following certain rituals and by associating for worldly advantages) than following the principles of religion. To maintain their supremacy in the community, the clerics have tended to be dogmatic and authoritarian.. Depravity and division among their ranks and their glaring failure in addressing to the problems of mankind have made them unpopular as well as irrelevant. It is this intolerance of the religious patriarchs that has been used by the economic fundamentalists to portray religion in shabby shades. Still, it can be said without doubt that religion has been, and will continue to be, a powerful force in human life; for reason often fails in guiding the human actions, and belief, often, comes to his rescue. If properly presented and followed religion has the potential to drastically alter human society for the better.
Before, however, bringing religion at the centre stage of organised human life, a general agreement on the following considerations would be of great value:
First though one religion may be more elaborate, systematic and developed than the other, all religions are good, at least, as far as they aim at guarding human beings against evils. Religiousness is, certainly, better than irreligiousness.
Second, it must be ensured that the religions of the world do not engage in hostilities, but compete, or better cooperate, to eradicate evils; they must root out sources of corruption, oppression, and exploitation. Religion has unparalleled ability to mobilise the masses against zulm; the economic and political tyrants fully realize this. Once religion appears on the scene in its true colours, the oppressors and exploiters would be seen scurrying for shelter.
Third, the universal appeal of religion must be availed in its true sprit, and tendencies to parochialise or commercialise it must be outrightly eschewed. God of religion is not the Lord of a specific area or specific people; He is Rabbul-Aalameen, the Lord of Universes, as is beautifully described in the Holy Qur’an, and the Father of the whole mankind, as is depicted in the Christian scriptures. The whole mankind is one family, the vasudhev kutumbukam of the Hindu scriptures, and the progeny of one father and mother as described by the holy Qur’an, and also by the Bible. How can one be superior to others on the grounds of race, community, sect, colour, language, monetary status, etc? The better is one whose deeds are better. Unfortunately, religion-based organisations have often been engaged in arousing communal and sectarian sentiments. These organisations must give up this approach, and if they fail to do so, the law of the land must promptly tackle them.
Fourth, there are two major components of religion. One is faith and rituals, which are private affairs, and the second is the social principles. It is the latter that need be emphasized upon, because they are usually neglected.
The importance of religion lies in the fact that, unlike other systems, it has spiritual components also. It is the spiritual status of man that builds his character and strengthens his resolve to perform certain virtuous deeds, even when they may be of no personal benefit to him, and to avoid certain acts, even when they may bring immediate pleasure. A spiritually strong person is not easily overpowered by desires. Selfishness is at its lowest in him, and he is always ready to sacrifice his possessions for others. To work for others, and not for personal aggrandisement, gives him happiness. Even in severe ordeal, patience and endurance do not elude him. He is always serene and calm; his only worry is how to remove the worries of others. Spiritual faith is derived from gnosis of, and unflinching faith in God. God creates all and sustains all, is Bounteous and Merciful and is Just. A firm believer is also just and kind towards others; if he is not, something is wrong with his faith. He rests his hopes not on any human being but on the Lord of the universe. Faith inculcates accountability, and belief in the Hereafter prevents him from doing evils, even in private, and from harming others.
Character-building is thus the essence of religion. Zoroaster, Buddha, Mahavira, Ram, Moses and Jesus highlighted the same truth, and for Muhammad it became a declared objective. If society has to develop, character-building is to be the axis of all schemes of things, and religion must be allowed to play its all-important role in that direction. If that goal is achieved, economic fundamentalism as an ideology will find it hard to survive.
Some economists have argued that self-interest is the primary motive of human actions, though self-interest may have different meanings for different individuals. By advancing this logic, they seek to enamour selfishness with respectability; for, self-interest is the chief premise on which the believers in neo-classical theory of economics rely. It can be said that even religious persons act in self-interest; when they do sacrifices for others, they do it in the hope of getting due reward, if not in this world, then in the other world. But what is great about this self-interest is that, in contrast to the self-interest of the economic fundamentalists, this self-interest derives its strength from others’ interests. It goes to the credit of religion that it understands the psychology of humans; in order to enable them to act for others’ gains, it convert others’ interest into self-interest. It is this outstanding ability of religion to motivate individuals for service to mankind that has to be appreciated, admired and practised. This alone can provide a befitting answer to the cruel and selfish self-interest of the economic fundamentalists.
3. Purging of Politics
Economic fundamentalism has been triumphantly marching ahead owing to the increasing manoeuvrability of politics and administration by the big business. The nexus of industrialists, politicians and bureaucrats has misused democracy for their own advantages. This nexus must, therefore, be broken at the earliest. To achieve this, the political set-up has to be completely purged.. Democracy, in essence, is good and must be preserved. But what is to be ensured is that it brings to power competent, honest and strong persons having emotional consonance with the common people; their suffering must pain their hearts and alleviation of their problems must be foremost in their mind. They must keep aloof from all tyrannical elements and must be ready to challenge them. Economic development is essential but the politicians must ensure that it is redefined to favour the people more than the economic giants.
What must be done to cleanse politics? The answer is not difficult. While every citizen must have the franchise, right to contest elections must be reserved for those who have proved their honesty and competence, and have admirable record of service to the nation. Almost all the democratic countries have two houses -- the Lower House, or Congress, comprising representatives, directly elected by the people, and the Upper House or Senate, comprising members indirectly elected or nominated. The role of the Upper House has been relatively less important than that of the Lower. It would be in the fitness of things if the Upper House plays the true role of elders. Its subcommittees can be endowed with the constitutional powers to screen candidates for national elections. The criteria of screening must be elaborate, and must be fixed beforehand. Every party must be directed to nominate at least 5 candidates for each seat; the curriculum vitae of each one of them must be made available. The past public record of each nominee must also be sought from independent or government channels, preferably the intelligence agencies. Any person convicted by court must not be allowed to contest elections for at least 10 years after the completion of his sentence. If, during this period, he shows distinct signs of improvement and has done commendable social service, he may be permitted after the expiry of that period. If a person has been charge-sheeted by the court, he must not be allowed to contest till he is proved innocent. Out of the nominees, the elders must select the best one who may then be allotted the party ticket. If the elders are satisfied with none of the five, they may ask the party to nominate another set of candidates. The Upper House, however, to assume this extraordinary power, must itself be above any controversy. To ensure this, its membership must be given only to those who have had either brilliant academic records or have been involved in selfless services to the people for a reasonable time. They must not belong to any political party. Retired professors, officials, professionals, social reformers, thinkers, artists and writers would be the ideal choice.
There has always been a debate on what form of democracy is better -- Parliamentary or Presidential. What is more important, however, is to make sure that only persons of untainted characters enter the political arena. If it can be guaranteed. any form of democracy will deliver the goods; if it is not, none will succeed. Still, in my view, Presidential democracy is, relatively better because the President is free to nominate the ablest persons, not necessarily belonging to the party he represents, as his ministers or secretaries; furthermore, the people know in advance who would be heading the government. In parliamentary democracy, the head of government is elected, after general elections, by the members of the Lower House or more precisely, by the members of the political group commanding majority in the House; it often happens that unpopular or relatively unknown persons succeed in occupying the prime ministerial chair. In Presidential system, what the President has to do to prolong his reign is that he must keep an eye on the public perceptions. In contrast, in Parliamentary democracy, the Prime Minister has to keep his flock of ministers and members of Parliament in good humour failing which he may face desertions and defections. This puts the Prime Minister in a dock and he often overlooks the corrupt practices of his party-men and cabinet for fear of losing necessary support.
Another objective of a true democracy must be to guarantee proper representation of all sections, classes and communities comprising the nation. The divisions in population are often such as make it virtually impossible for the minority sections to win election in correspondence with their percentage in population. This discrepancy can be removed by reserving in every election specific seats for candidates belonging to minority sections. To further strengthen democracy, the winning candidates must get at least fifty percent of the votes polled.
Two party system is better than multi-party system, because it ensures that at least fifty percent of the people have cast their votes in favour of the winning party. It will also compel the ruling party to provide good governance as it would be hard pushed to maintain its position. In a country like India, two-party system may be preserved for the national elections, while multi party system may be allowed to continue in provincial elections. The provincial elections all over the country may be conducted simultaneously. Only those parties, or fronts, that have emerged as top position holders in the assembly elections, may then be permitted to contest the parliamentary elections. Two party system would help in controlling communalism, regionalism and casteism.
Democracy is good because it represents the will of the people. But it must be kept in mind that the people are usually selfish and myopic. Further, the majority opinion is not always the best option, especially when the vested interest are incessantly busy in influencing their views and propensities by imposing on them their own viewpoint through high-pitched propaganda. The fundamentals (Rights, Duties and Prohibitions) of the Constitution are, therefore, to be granted by constitutional experts in concurrence with the scientists, health experts, social scientists and reformers. Legislation in Parliament have to be consistent with the boundaries laid down by the Constitution. Secularism, giving respect to all religions (and not the one that does not recognise religion at all) is good for countries where society is multi-religious. A theocratic democracy may prove best for the countries where the overwhelming majority of people belong to a particular religion. A true democratic democracy must, however, recognize the right of all religions to exist, people must be free to perform their religious duties, and in accordance with their personal laws in matters concerning marriage, divorce inheritance etc. Common laws must govern the criminal laws and matters concerning social order.
One major cause of the increasing links between the politicians and the economic fundamentalists has been the requirement of huge funds for electioneering. The problem has been debated at length in India in recent times. The majority of thinkers agree that state funding of elections coupled with strict control on election budgets may help in severing this link.
Purification of Imagination
One of the major factors behind the stupendous success of economic fundamentalism in the twentieth century, especially in the latter half, has been misuse of the print and electronic media to captivate the imagination of the masses. The media has steadily grown in independence. The censors have become increasingly lenient over the years with ever increasing doses of sex and violence in the films. The magazines and newspapers are mostly owned by the industrialist giants, and pursue the objectives laid down by their masters in highlighting specific news, publication of analytic articles and selection of advertisements. The television, in recent period, has become a big instrument in the hands of fundamentalists for further tightening their hold over the imaginations of men, women and children, and to bring a social and attitudinal transformation necessary for “economic growth”. If economic fundamentalism has to be uprooted, the thought pollution caused by its ideologues through the media has to be tackled at the earliest.
As has been suggested earlier in this chapter, Fundamental Prohibitions as part of Fundamental Principles of the Constitution are essential for the sustenance and improvement of individual’s health, family peace and social order. Those prohibitions must cover the media as well. Any report, serial, film or advertisement violating them must be adequately punished. Censors must see the films and serials not only from the angle of sex and violence; but they must also examine the storyline, dialogues and characters. Any story or scene glorifying or advocating corruption, drinking, smoking, crimes, violence, premarital and extramarital sex and communalism must not be allowed to be screened. The media must act as a purifier, not a vitiator, of thought, and must play a positive and constructive role in social building. If it refuses, or fails, the law must promptly come into action. Entertainment is good; but pollution of ideas and attitudes leading to deaths diseases and destruction of family peace and social order cannot be tolerated. Freedom of expression cannot be absolute; the media can be free only as long as it is not harmful for society.
Thanks to satellite television, programmes of different sorts are now available 24 hours a day. These programmes are largely film-based and, more often than not, have stories and scenes that are enough to disturb the balance of attitude. Though informative programmes are also available and there are certain channels that specifically telecast educative and informative programmes, the fact that the entertainment channels are on the air throughout the day and throughout the night, drastically reduce their utility. This is, because the young boys and girls, who are in maximum need of the informative programmes, prefer to watch dances, songs and sex-based serials and films. Governments of all countries must fix times for films and entertainment that should be applicable to all the channels being viewed by the masses. Entertainment programmes must be telecast for only 1-2 hours in the afternoon and then in late hours. The duration may be increased on holidays, on certain occasions like festivals and during annual vacations.
The influence of advertisements has been extraordinary on the perceptions and tastes of the masses. The advertisers must be told not to give false information or convey untrue signals and messages. Disinformation must be declared an offence and every advertisement must be accompanied by an undertaking that the message contained and the information given are not false; if it proves wrong, the advertisers must be punished.
To ensure that the media play a constructive role in character development, the government must bind all newspapers, magazines and TV channels to carry on messages (in between programmes) prepared by it. These messages must inculcate feelings of mutual love and brotherhood, selflessness honesty, truth, maintenance of trust and promises, helping others, decency of behaviour, sweetness of talk, etc. and must discourage falsehood, disloyalty, selfishness, breach of trust and attempts to sow seeds of discord in society. These must also include information relating to health and social laws, particularly on the dangerous consequences of social evils like drinking, gambling, promiscuity, dowry, and abortion, crimes against children, women and weaker sections of society.
Re-establishment of Social Values:
The single most important step in the growth of economic fundamentalism has perhaps been the reshaping of social values in accordance with the demands of the market. Thus idealism and equalitarianism were dismissed as impractical and were substituted by pragmatism. Entertainment was presented as the chief aim of life, pompousness and social aberrations were glorified and family system was systematically disintegrated in the name of ‘freedom for women’; for men and women bound in the ties of family are less likely to squander on clothes and cosmetics and it is relatively more difficult to entrap them in the sex market. By remodelling values, the big business has indeed sought to weaken the role of social values in the world. The need of the time is, therefore, to establish a social system that helps in the development of a healthy, orderly and peaceful society.
The most essential requirement for building a peaceful society is strict adherence to principles -- duties, rights and prohibitions. By only emphasizing upon rights, the economic fundamentalists aim to exploit human weaknesses for financial gains. It must be realized that, if the rights of every member of society are to be guaranteed, duties and prohibitions are to be strictly observed. All social values must be built on the basis of fundamental rights, duties and prohibitions; a good civilized society is whose members care for one another’s’ needs and sensibilities.
Ideals are extremely important for any civilized society; for though it may be correct that a utopian society is a dream that can never be realized, endeavours in that direction would certainly lead to a near-ideal state. Keeping an ideal state of affairs in mind, at least, prevents society from degenerating into a state of chaos and disorder. If idealists are respected, mankind would continue to produce reformers and social activists whose actions would influence innumerable persons. Honesty and integrity are highly desirable virtues, and if, virtuousness is not duly honoured, the whole social fabric will disintegrate. To be pragmatic is good only as long as it helps in the attainment of the cherished goal; if it stoops to become merely a tool for selfish ends, its consequences on mankind are bound to be hazardous; idealism must however, be supplemented by an effective legal system, without which it cannot attain a dignified status in society. Every inhabitant of the earth must understand that life is not just for eating, drinking and mating. Life is indeed for attainment of grand peace. Human being may be regarded nothing more than biologically advanced animals, if they do not combine to form a peaceful, civilized and orderly society. If an individual does not care for norms, it is not only society, but he himself, or some of his successors, too, who will have to bear the brunt.
Materialism has perhaps been one of the biggest detractors of human values. Morals are being increasingly devalued. Integrity of character has little importance in the present world. A man is judged by his material assets and not by his moral possessions, his nature, behaviour and character. Evils are considered to be essential exuberance of the rich. There is hardly any stigma attached now to moral degradation and debauchery; poverty and resourcelessness are considered biggest curses. Once social and moral values get re-established, persons of knowledge, character and high spiritual status will regain their lost glory; they, not the film actors, the models and the entrepreneurs, will become role models for the younger generations.
Peaceful families are sine qua non for Grand Peace. Mankind has three essential tiers of organization; individual, family and society. All the three have to be preserved. Family is the most important one of the three essential tiers as it occupies a position midway between the other two."The most ancient of all societies", Rousseau says; "and the only one that is natural is the family." Hagel, in his "Philosophy of History", argues : "The piety of the family relation should be respected in the highest degree by the state; by its means the state obtains as its members individuals who are already moral (for as mere person they are not) and who in uniting to form a state bring with them that sound basis of a political edifice -- the capacity of feeling one with a whole." Rousseau, in his famous work, "Social Contact", further adds: "The family then may be called the first model of political societies; the rural corresponds to the father, and the poeple to the children; and all being born free and equal, alienate their liberty only for their own advantage. The whole difference is that, in the family, the love of the father for his children repays him for the care he takes of them, while, in the state, the pleasure of commanding takes the place of the love which the chief cannot have for the people under him." Family system is unavoidable, because it is a natural way to ensure replacement, and in the healthiest way, of one generation by the other. Every man or woman has to be a son or a daughter of a father and mother. There is no other way. So, parents and children are the natural components of family. None can nourish children better than parents (both father and mother) whose love for them is natural and largely selfless; parents regard children as their extensions, and leave no stone unturned in their development. Of course, there are exceptions, and these exceptions are growing in number in the present times. Many parents now have little concern for their children. Some of them even sacrifice them for the fulfilment of their own desires. This is mainly the outcome of evils like drinking, smoking, gambling and perspicuousness. When one or both of the parents become addicts to one or more of these they turn psychologically too weak to look after their children; they prefer to satisfy their own desires rather than the needs of their sons and daughters.
Woman is safest in her family. This does not mean that she does not have right to go out and seek career for herself. Of course, she has. But as a member of family, her parents. husband, brothers and sons guard her against her exploitation. It is when she, having become an adult, severs her links with her parental family, and does not establish her own, that she is under maximum threat of being abused It is during the same part of her age that her beauty is exploited for commercial purposes; often she is entrapped in sex market. And when, around 40, she realises her follies, it is too late; once her charms are overtaken by the ruthless age, she has hardly anyone to look after or to share some moments of pleasure with her. She longs to be with her children but they if there are any, prefer to go their own way rather than care for their parents. Woman has, and must have, the right to earn. But this must not be, and she must not be made to feel it as a duty imposed on her. She must realise, and should be proud that she has the greatest, grandest and finest job on earth to do; to give birth to, nourish and cherish human children. No other duty can be more important and more sacred than that; from no job other than this can she imbibe such wholesome and long lasting satisfaction. And men must realise this, and must create harmonious conditions for her to accomplish her work in a tranquil environment. He must know that whatever he spends on her, cannot be sufficient for the work she does. And more than her financial requirements, he must, therefore, compensate by providing her psychological relief and happiness. He must know that the only essential task of sustenance of human species -- not only the biological species but the socially highest being, is performed by her, and all other functions, some of which are performed by men, are of complementary nature. Woman must be expected to earn only when it is needed to sustain the family or when she herself feels psychologically compelled to do so. But she must not be lured or forced to do jobs that burden her with additional responsibilities.
No society can ever be happy if its women are unhappy; and women cannot be happy if they do not live peacefully in the safe environs of their family. It is interesting to see that the creator has apportioned woman's biological life-span into three distinct phases: pre-fertile, fertile and post-fertile. The best way to give full expression to the natural talents of woman will, therefore, be to plan activities in accordance with these biological phases. In paediatric (pre-fertile) age, woman must concentrate on her education, which must have prominence of personality and character development. In her youth (fertile age), she must be concerned more than anything else about the proper development of her family; from the time she first conceives to the entrance of her last child into adolescence, she must preferably remain in her house looking after her children. In the post-fertile age, she may, if she wants, concentrate on her other talents. Even when engaged in her family duties, she may use her leisure time in a way that does not disturb her family. Women of more than 45, may join good decent jobs, get involved in their own business, or engage themselves in social services and spiritual pursuits. This may cause some minor problems. Break of education, or service, may cause harm to their efficiency. It can also be argued that their professional careers would suffer. But hundreds of ways may be found to minimise these problems. Even in their houses, they may keep in touch with the books of their choice, or those related to their careers. Before rejoining refreshment courses can be arranged. To make up for their lost period, retirement age for women an be increased. Even during the fertile phase, they may be given the option to work for half the normal hours with decreased salary (or full salary compensated by work in the latter part of life) so that their family life is least disturbed. Such arrangements will be a boon for society. These will ensure a peaceful family -- family which is not just a family of some individuals, but also the best school for civilizing the members of society. Children will receive the attention they need. Husbands and wives will also find moments of pleasure to share. The chances of their getting involved in adultery would greatly diminish; for women above 45 are less likely to develop such relationship; with the wife waiting at home and fewer young women around, husbands, too, would be able to avoid adulterous relationships. Families will, generally, be free of matrimonial tensions; separations and divorces would minimise. The commercial exploitation of women will also decline; prostitution and pornography will not remain easy to be sustained, except at low scale. Sexually transmitted diseases will become uncommon. The crimes against women will continuously decrease. Mankind will achieve Grand Peace, which must, in fact, be its ultimate destination.
Freedom or liberty can never be absolute. Describing how the word liberty is being converted by the vested interests into tyranny, Lincoln said: "With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labour, while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labour. Here are too, not only diffrent but incompatible things called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things, by the respective positions, is called by too different and incompatible names-- liberty and tyranny." Those who campaign for absolute freedom do so only, because they want their sinful activities and exploitative practices to be sanctioned by society. A man is not just an individual; he is also related through blood to the members of his family, and forms part of society. Neither an individual can exist in absolute loneliness, severing all contacts with society, nor can society ever be formed without individuals. Whatever man does, with very few exceptions, affects his relatives, friends, neighbours and other sections of society. A person ceases to be an individual as soon as he steps out of his personal room. In his house, he has to abide by the rules and regulations laid down by the family; outside, he has to act within the fences erected by society. Even if he commits suicide, drinks, smokes or indulges in sex, these personal actions are not going to affect him alone; his spouse, parents, brothers, sisters and children and, to a lesser extent, other members of society, are also bound to suffer. The world may be compared with the traffic system. Every one moving on the road has to confine oneself to one's lane and follow the traffic rules. The more the people flaunt the rules the more chances of accidents; the number of people injured or killed in the accidents would correspondingly increase. Why do the champions of absolute freedom not campaign for freedom in driving? The truth is that the real freedom lies in following restrictions and not in disregarding them. Absolute freedom leads to nothing but chaos and anarchy. The only beneficiaries are the mighty possessing physical, financial or political power. The overwhelming majority of people are the ultimate sufferers. To achieve the goal of Grand Peace, the world needs a system that provides full opportunity even to the weakest to enjoy a truly wholesome life.
Sanctification of Sex (De-commercialisation)
The colossal transformation of social values that has taken place during the twentieth century all over the world, particularly in the West, owes itself to the ever-increasing prospects of the commercialisation of sex. This may, in fact, be regarded as the most abominable, most exploitative and most threatening manifestation of economic fundamentalism. Sex, in varying degrees, is being used by large number of newspapers, magazines, films and consumer industries for their own growth. The worst form, of course, is the prostitution and pornography that have become big industries. If mankind is to be saved from death, diseases, distress and destruction, an end will have to be brought about to the commercialisation of sex without any further delay. This nonsense cannot be tolerated in a civilized society.
The first step that has to be taken is to declare sexual exploitation in all forms illegal all over the world. Resolutions to this effect must be duly passed by the United Nations. The world must clearly know that human beings including women and children are not meant for sexual abuse. The feminist groups, if they are really interested in the welfare of women, must rise and pressurise international organisation to take all possible steps to thwart the designs of the merchants of sex.
The owners of brothels and the middlemen must be severely punished; the clients visiting the brothels or soliciting call girls must also be penalised and their names made public. Prostitution is so heinous a crime and its adverse impact on health, family peace and social order is so dangerous that the owners of brothels and middlemen deserve no less punishment than hanging in full public view. But before putting that into practice, a period of amnesty should be given during which time (that must not be more than a few months) they must wound up. The prostitutes must be dealt with compassion and efforts should be made to rehabilitate them so that they can lead a happy family life. The best course would be to keep the prostitutes in special asylums for a period of 3 months. During this period they must be given vocational training in accordance with their capabilities so that in case they wish to earn their own livelihood, they can do so without much problem. At the expiry of this period they must be thoroughly examined to detect the presence of sex-transmitted diseases including AIDS. Those who are HIV negative and do not have any other disease must now be helped in finding suitable matches, and also jobs, for themselves, or should be reunited with their families. Those who have an STD but are not HIV positive, must be treated before being allowed to join the social mainstream. The women who, unfortunately, test HIV positive must be kept in hospitals with all medical aids provided to them.
The arguments that it is impractical to ban prostitution, and it would continue despite ban, are fallacious. Similar logic is not given in relation to population control, which is an infinitely bigger problem than controlling the flesh trade. The truth is that the real problem is not in the impracticability but the lack of will to eradicate it. If there is a will, and the government decides to put an end to it, there is no reason why it cannot be brought to a negligible level. The question of legalising the flesh trade does not at all arise. There cannot be a bigger travesty of human justice than the idea that women sell their body under legal protection only to ensure that their male customers do not contact certain diseases. I wonder when would women realise that the modern era is more male chauvinistic than ever before; never before in the world, had women been slaves in such numbers of men’s desires as now. There are others who argue that poverty must first be removed if women have to be stopped from falling prey to the flesh traders. This is only a ploy to perpetuate ‘the business’. Prostitution is more dangerous than poverty and has no direct relation with it. There are several rich countries where the flesh trade is running at a very big scale. And there are many poor countries where prostitution is uncommon. While the poverty alleviation programmes must be pursued at war footing, at the same time, all possible loopholes in the legal and executive setup must be plugged to bring an end to the ugliest trade.
Tourism has, unfortunately, been thriving in recent years vastly on commercial sex. The visitors are lured with the prospects of sharing moments on the beaches with beautiful, scantily clad women, and having “sexiest” partners as bed fellows. Tourism industry has to be cleansed of all this filth. It may cause loss in revenue; but once sex market becomes unavailable all over the world, healthier methods to attract visitors would bring life back to the industry. Even if the desired results are not achieved, commercial profits will have to be sacrificed to preserve sanctity of women, to protect health and safeguard the institution of marriage.
Prostitution and promiscuity are promoted by pornography. Pornography survives on prostitution, because if women are not available for acting in these films (in case prostitution is effectively banned) or for posing nude before the camera, it would automatically scale down. Pornography fans sexual frenzy. To alleviate promiscuity from society, pornography, in all its forms including eroticism, has to be effectively banned. No man or woman must be permitted to appear naked at any place other than in absolute privacy. Strict dress code has to be formulated for men as well as women. Freedom of nakedness in public must be shunned because its effects are not confined to the person appearing naked; it sends electrifying signals in the bodies of all the watchers intensifying their sexual appetite. Needless to say that nakedness breeds promiscuity; promiscuity leads to commercialisation of sex, which invariably means commercial exploitation of women and children; and commercialisation of sex threatens the very survival of human beings as individual, as family and as society.
The censors must not restrict the use of their scissors for obscenities in the films; they must also ensure that the practices harmful for society -- promiscuity, gambling, drinking, smoking, etc -- are not glorified. In addition to the censors, there should be legal provisions for punishing the producers, directors, cameramen, story writers and actors in case they over-ride the guidelines. All forms of literature publishing nude photographs and other sexually provocative materials must be banned; those violating the ban must be appropriately punished.
Moralisation of Education
The hijacking of the whole educational system has also been one of the steps taken to boost economic fundamentalism. The aims of education are now three fold: to earn money by commercialising education, to train employees of different kinds for the industries, and to produce good consumers. In order to groom hard-core commercial approach among the students, moral education has been successively eliminated from the curricula; it has been replaced by either purely technical or managerial subjects or by programmes like sex-education, family planning awareness, etc.
If society has to progress in the right direction, education has to be freed from the slavery of the economic fundamentalists. Feeling the necessity to mend the education, Milton, in "Ready and Easy Way," says: "To make the people the fittest the choose, and chosen fittest to govern, will be to mend our corrupt and faulty education, to teach the people faith, not without virtue, temperance, modesty, sobriety, parsimony, justice, not to admire wealth or honour; to hate turbulence and ambition: to place everyone his private welfare and happiness in the public peace, liberty, and safety", To achieve this the government must intervene. Small children are being compelled to go to schools and shoulder an unnecessary burden, just because it helps the managers of schools. A child below 6 must not leave home, and must be trained by the parents, not the teachers. There is no need for courses like nursery, kindergartens etc; education must commence with class I. Steps must be taken to bring uniformity in educational standards of all schools. The emphasis must not be on the outward appearances like dress, shoes, belts etc., but on the quality of education. Moral education must form a part of syllabus at all levels -- primary, secondary, graduate and postgraduate. Children must learn how to become decent human beings and not corrupt consumers or partisan salesmen. Their training must be directed at keeping them away from all the social evils like drinking, smoking, gambling and promiscuity. They must be instructed that honesty and obedience are the most important treasures of a successful and peaceful life. They must be encouraged to lead a virtuous and not an aristocratic life. What must be clear in their minds is that the goal of life is to attain and maintain Grand Peace. Assistance of religious teaching and history should be taken to inculcate moral values among them.
There has been an animated debate on the desirability or undesirability of sex education in colleges. More important than whether the students should be imparted sex education or not, and at what level should it begin, is its form and contents. If it is aimed at training the students in the science or art of sex so that they can indulge in sexual activities without physically harming themselves, it cannot be permitted; for it would encourage young boys and girls to experiment with sex before marriage. But if its aim is to make them aware of the potential risks involved in illicit sex, to remove their misconceptions about their physical developments, and to make them stand on high moral pedestals, it must be welcome. The adolescent boys and girls tend to be tense about menstruation and nocturnal ejaculations and have other fears and doubts. These must be allayed. But this must be done in separate classes for boys and girls; the teacher should also preferably belong to the same sex. They must be explained that the sexual development and the desire to have sexual relations are normal part of life. But they must be told in unambiguous terms that there are certain boundaries for this, that these boundaries are essential for the development of healthy families and peaceful societies, and that the violation of these boundaries is responsible for several diseases. They must be told in detail why marriage is the only correct way to satisfy sexual needs. As marriage brings certain responsibilities, one must wait till one is competent to shoulder these responsibilities; but if one cannot keep chaste till that time, one must choose to have matrimonial alliance rather than indulge in fornication. They must also be told about the medical, legal and social implications of sexual misdemeanours on their part.
Moral education must not end with the end of the professional or academic courses. It must continue even during services and all employees must be encouraged to join moral training classes. Half an hour daily for moral and spiritual enlightenment will serve the purpose remarkably well. This will ensure a better life and will be quite beneficial in overcoming various forms of stresses. It will also strengthen their resolve to live peacefully with the members of their families, and those of society, and will curb any violent or criminal instincts in them.
Democratisation of Economy
The economic fundamentalists have not only been busy in generating wealth by commercialising even those activities that were not meant for commercialisation, and by creating conditions often at the cost of healthy, family peace and social equilibrium, favouring the sales of their products; they have also taken every possible step to monopolise wealth. They have achieved this by (a) giving more importance to economics than any other department of social life, (b) establishing a banking system that puts at their disposal colossal public money with which they generate huge profits, while giving virtually nothing to the real owners of that money, © establishing stock exchange that attract the public money at much less risk and conditions than the banks, (d) supporting a tax system that enables them to part with the least possible portion of their possessions, (e) maintaining an inflationary trend which enables them to recover most of the money they have to pay as taxes or interests (i) insisting on increasing privatisation that helps them expand businesses, (g) projecting misleading statistics and criteria of development, (h) changing the taste and perceptions of the people through steady campaigns.
In order to crush economic fundamentalism it is, therefore, mandatory to take steps ensuring that more equitable distribution of wealth takes place, and the economic development does not create health, family and social problems.
The importance of money lies in the fact that it is needed for a comfortable healthy and peaceful life. But, if instead of achieving this, it begins to destroy these very objectives, it no longer remains a boon. It is, therefore, essential that, while planning the economic growth at any level -- individual, family, national or global, these objectives must never be lost sight of; any economic activity that creates serious hazards to health, leads to disintegration of families or promotes societal tensions cannot, and must not, be permitted. The economic planning must entail the truth that man is neither a machine nor an animal; and human beings have a propensity to misjudge; they are selfish, and tend to be carried away by the short term gains. Society, and therefore the government must keep in mind human strengths and weaknesses in taking various measures. The role of the government in all the affairs including the economic must neither be that of a dictator nor that of a helpless spectator. It must act as a perfect guardian who grants sufficient freedom to his wards, but is alert enough to see that this freedom is neither misused nor becomes dangerous for their own lives. The government while allowing the economic freedom must see that its benefits are shared by the people, and are not misused by the vested interests harming the interests of the common people.
The economic policies of the government play a crucial role in establishing the direction of national economy. One of the most important functions of the government is to levy and collect different forms of taxes. In a world ruled by the economic fundamentalists, it is hardly surprising that the fiscal policy of the government is less inclined towards the common people; the industrialists are the major beneficiaries.
Before entering into a discussion on the relative merits of various taxes that are in vogue today, let us spell out what the aims of taxation must be. The taxes are aimed at generating enough revenue for the expenses of the government, and to sustain an upward movement in the national economy. Ironically, however, the tax-structure, that is popular these days, seems to punish those activities that are good for economy. Taxes must ideally be imposed only on such activities as retard the process of economic progress. For a good economy, it is essential that the people must earn as much as possible, and must spend most of their earnings. It is a travesty of economic thinking that the taxes be imposed on the incomes, the sales and the consumptions. Imposing tax on income means that, for evading the tax, which is the tendency of the majority of people, they would either have to reduce their incomes or conceal them. Both ways, it is hazardous for the national economy. As a result of the people resorting to the former option, the national income would show decline, and as a consequence of their choosing the latter option, black money would be generated; a big portion of this black money would get converted into immovable assets that would no longer be a part of the economic activities. What is, in fact, the worst thing for a country is the transformation of money into assets, as it removes the money from the ongoing process of circulation. This, coupled with inflation, further widens the disparity between the rich and the poor. The fiscal policy must propel the rich to share the fruits of their wealth with the common people, and not vice versa. It can be achieved only by exempting the income and instead, taxing the assets. Here, distinction has to be made between the assets and the wealth, for there have been taxes on wealth in certain parts of the world. A person’s wealth includes all that he owns including what he has invested in business. The assets, on the other hand, at least, for the purpose of taxation, must comprise only the properties, materials and cash that are not part of any business activity, and whose values increase, remain constant or decrease slowly over a long period of time. The cash kept in the banks should be deemed as investment and not asset. The assets may thus include the bungalows, plots, precious metals, jewellery, cash kept in private safes, costly items like cars, golden watches, VCR’s Video cameras, costly furniture, carpets, and other durables. For each item, a taxable limit must be fixed in accordance with the conditions prevailing in respective countries. Similarly, the rate of taxes may be modified form time to time.
For instance, in India, Rs 100,000 may be the limit for tax on a house, Rs. 25000/- for jewellery, and the first car owned by a family may be exempted form tax (except a de luxe car). A cash of Rs. 20000 may also be allowed to be kept in safe for emergency use.
The replacement of the income tax by the assets tax will have far-reaching consequences on the economy. First, people will no longer have to conceal their income in order to avoid taxes; they will have no hesitation in depositing their money in the banks or investing in the stock market. Secondly, people will find it less profitable to create assets. They would prefer to invest, either directly, through their own enterprises, or through the banks and the stock exchanges. It would be doubly advantageous; it would save the assets tax, and would also increase their income Thirdly, with the sloping demands for land, houses, gold and precious items (because they will be taxed), the prices of these items will show a downward trend. In fact, the inflationary trend will generally be in check. Fourthly, the rich will prefer to use their own money rather than take loans from the financing agencies, for it would be more expedient as well as beneficial. The less privileged will have greater chances to get their applications of loan accepted. Fifthly, with the generous supply of money, the rates of interest on loans will tend to decrease. Sixthly, with the houses available at lower prices, the middle class and the poor will have bigger opportunities.
Another tax that must be introduced for strengthening a healthy economic system is Production Tax. Production tax can be imposed on the companies and the agriculture. It shall not be in the form of money but in the form of products. 5-10 percent tax may be levied on all the produces of the companies and the land, i.e. 5-10 percent of the items produced shall have to be handed over to the government. Thus the government will have a big depot of the essential and consumer items produced in the country. These may then be distributed through its public distribution channels, either free of cost to the extremely poor, on concessional rates to the workers, the employees and the middle class people, and as incentives and awards to those achieving distinctions in the field of research, teaching, police, military, administration, arts, sports, literature, service to the poor and the underprivileged, health, justice, etc. Production tax will greatly benefit the poor without adversely affecting the growth.
As will be seen below, sooner or later, the government will be in a position of great strength, and will be able to abolish on all, or some selected items, the sales tax and excise duties. This will further reduce the prices, bringing immense relief to the masses, for example, wheat, rice, cooking oil, tooth brushes, tooth pastes, soaps, stationery, cloths, etc, may be distributed free of cost among the poor patients admitted in the hospitals, poor children going to schools, the destitutes, the widows, the orphans, the handicapped, the families of those who have lost their bread earners in accidents, riots, wars etc. Items like coolers, pressure-cookers, crockery, fans, washing machines, TVs, bicycles, etc. may be sold at concessional rates to the I11 and IV class employees, the labour class (including the rickshaw pullers, coolies and workers in factories), primary school teachers, small farmers, etc. Items like cars, refrigerators, colour TVs, scooters, cameras, quality cloths, may be given as incentives and awards to those who have done commendable service to the nation in different fields. (Obviously, no such person as possess taxable assets will be entitled to the benefits, mentioned above except as awards).
The banking system must also undergo modifications. Banks must always be nationalised. Private Banks should not be allowed. With the great increase in the deposits, expected on account of the revolutionary fiscal policy suggested above, banks must not depend on the loans. They must themselves, on behalf of the depositors, enter the market by investing in the stock exchange, or on other profitable ventures. This will prove to be a big push for the industry, and will also multiply the incomes of all banks. And banks must share all their profits on equitable terms with the depositors. The involvement of banks will also be a security against misappropriation of public money by the directors of companies it would be better for the government not to have exclusive control over companies, for it tends to lead to stagnation. Whenever the loans are given out by banks the interest rates must be charged on the real money and not on its face value. The price index must also be kept in consideration in giving interests/profits to the depositors. Interest free loans must be provided to the poor for building houses, establishing small business, treatment, etc. and also for human necessities like marriage and delivery.
Industrialisation has played a significant role in making available to the common people the goods and comfort that were previously only in the reach of the elite. What, however, has been a miserable failure is that, out of the extraordinary wealth mobilised through it, only a meagre portion has reached the lower strata of society. This has further widened the gap between the privileged and the underprivileged. Still more condemnable is that this mobilisation of wealth has been made possible through the injudicious use of public money, and, in spite of that, the fruits have been usurped by the very few. On the one hand, the economic fundamentalists have continued to relentlessly argue in favour of capitalism, and, on the other hand, they have been denying the common people the worth of their money. When they use their own money, they seek to make huge profits out of it, but when they use the public money, channelized through banks, financial agencies and stock market, they are willing to pay the people only a negligible portion of the profit they have amassed through that money. Whatever is paid to them is channelized back by way of inflation. This exploitation has to be countered, if economic justice is to be brought to the denizens of the earth. To achieve this grand objective, two major changes in the industrial set-up will have to be brought about as early as possible.
First, there is no reason why, in the limited companies, that operates with the collective efforts of a large number of people including the investors, the directors, the managers, the technical staff and the labourers, should there be the classes of the employers and the employees. Every person contributing in one capacity or the other to the functioning of a company must be a ‘partner’ in it. If the investors contribute through their money, the workers’ contribution is still more significant. Why should then there be huge differences in the incomes of the investors and the workers? There should be two kinds of partners,
(1) Investing Partners, whose partnership should be based on the virtue of their investment. And
(2) Working Partners, whose partnership is on the virtue of their work.
Just as the claims of the investors on the company cease as soon as they withdraw their shares, the claims of the Working Partners would end as soon as they stop working for it. When, in the operation of a company, the roles of investment and work are equally important, and it is not possible for anyone to continue operations without the other the net profit of the company must also be divided equally between the Investing and the Working Partners. The distribution of fifty per cent of the net profit among the Working Partners must be based on the nature of their work, and upon the amount of training and education required for a specific job. But, the lowest paid Working Partner must get not less than one third of the highest paid Working Partner. There must, however, be guarantee money for all the employees. Such arrangements would guarantee that, while the investors would get due returns for their investment, the workers would also receive their worth. This would encourage the directors to involve more workers; the employment opportunities would rise and the hardships of workers will decrease. Their duty hours must also be reduced by at least one hour in which arrangements may be made for their moral education and healthy entertainment. This would also give them more time to devote to their families.
Secondly, the minor share holders, who together often own more than half of the total shares in the company, must play a more active role in the affairs of the company so that the directors do not exploit or cheat them depriving them of their money. This can be achieved by the creation of a Minor Shareholders’ Association in every company. The office bearers of the Association can be elected at regular intervals. The representatives of the association must be among the directors of the company, their number depending upon the shares they represent. This would enable them to ensure that the interests of minor shareholders are not compromised, they get due share in the profits, are continuously in the know of the state of affairs and in case the company is suffering losses, these are not entirely thrust upon them (minor share holders). This would also help them in receiving dividends at regular intervals, and the directors would find it difficult to withhold them in the name of residual value.
The above-mentioned steps would have far-reaching consequences on the distribution of incomes and assets that would be far more equitable; this would go a long way in alleviating poverty from society. In order to further improve the distribution, the rural-urban divide has to be bridged. The economic fundamentalists have made conscious efforts to equate “economic growth” mainly with the industrial growth. It is, neither indicative of the general economic scene nor does it duly focus on agricultural growth. The truth is that “economic growth” has been a well-orchestrated movement primarily targeting agriculture; for the consumer industry regards the expansion of agriculture as counterproductive for its own growth. The overwhelming majority of the world population still lives in villages. This is particularly true for a country like India where over 80 per cent of the people live in rural areas, and their main source of income is their land. Despite the fact that they provide food to the whole population for survival and many other items of comfort, they continue to pass their lives in pathetic conditions. The main reason for this may be summed up as follows:
First, what they produce is usually sold at very low prices (compared with the products of industries). Secondly, they are not able to increase the demands of certain products like ghee, milk, butter, honey, etc. as they do not have the means to advertise. They cannot compete with the industries which sell, thanks to high profile advertising, even harmful, non-nutritious and tasteless items at very high prices. Thirdly, being mostly uneducated, they have not been able to organise themselves at different levels. They have a very little role to play in the politics and administration of the country. Even the political and non-political organisations speaking on behalf of the farmers tend only to make demands that are mostly of cosmetic nature.
It must be realised that the villagers are engaged in extremely important economic activities that are in fact, more valuable than those of the industrialists. Not only do they deserve credit for supplying the essentials for the very survival of mankind, but also for deriving them directly from their natural resources. In contradistinction to the industries which only modify, restructure or refine what has already been produced by Nature, agriculture, husbandry, poultry and fishing convert natural energies, and materials into essential items. Their contribution is the real addition to the persistence of mankind. It is, therefore, necessary that the villagers be given generous assistance in using their capabilities to the full, and they receive due returns for their labour. If it does not enhance the status of the villagers, the economic development has no meaning at all. Ways have to be found out to arrest and reverse the flow of money from the villages to the urban areas. This can be done by taking the following steps:
(1) Creating demands for more agricultural items. There is scope for huge expansion in the food market, especially the fruits. The fruits cultivators must combine to form an organisation. This organisation must embark upon a full-fledged campaign through mass awareness programmes and media advertising about the relative benefits of fresh fruit juices over the bottled drinks. People must be informed that the bottled drinks have very little nutritious value and are often injurious to health; spending on them is sheer wastage of money. Aggressive advertising for fresh juices of apple, orange, pineapple, sugar-cane, pomegranate, etc, and also for drinks like mango-shakes, milk shakes, almond-milk and milk pista can raise their sales to dizzy heights. Similarly, the sales of milk products, eggs, different types of vegetables and meat may be assiduously pushed. If this is done, the beneficiaries will be mainly villagers and the urban poor. Big farmers will also benefit, but this must be understood that even the biggest farmers are poor, compared with the industrialists.
(2) At the village level, the villagers may cooperate to establish small firms and shops. They may also set up roadside refreshment centres where fresh juices, milk, and other food items may be sold to travellers. The villagers that are close to the cities may establish some picnic spots, parks etc, and the fondness of the urban middle class and elite for clean and unpolluted atmosphere may be used to attract them.
(3) Research centres for rural development must be established; these must concentrate not on the borrowed ideas from West but unveiling the sordid designs of the economic fundamentalists to thwart the agricultural growth. Their chief aim must be to ensure that the villages play a more significant role in the circulation of money and that the villagers get shares in the national income proportionate to their population, their hard labour and significance of their work.
Still, there is tremendous scope of employment in the rural areas in the developing counties. Every village must have a police station, a well-furnished hospital, a high school, and a branch of nationalised bank. In a country like India, with about half million villages, this can provide opportunities of employment to more that 5 million people. There must be a reservation of at least 20 per cent in these jobs for the candidates with rural background. There may also be an administrative staff to assist the rural councils (Panchayats.)
Emphasis on small scale industries is essential. This will give the skilled and non-skilled workers and small businessmen an opportunity to enter the circulation in a greater way. The small scale industries, too, must combine at the national level to undo the tactics of big industrialists. They must contribute to a common fund that would be able to unveil the intrigues of the economic fundamentalists who have been constantly engaged in throttling the small scale industries by raising the issue of consumer rights, quality control, child labour and environment.
If the fruits of economic growth are to be generalised, the statistics denoting the pattern of distribution must be regularly publicised. Income Distribution Index and Assets Distribution Index must be introduced as the most important indicators of development. On the basis of these indexes, the economy may be categorised as Tyrannical, Exploitative, Tolerable, Good and Excellent. As soon as the distribution pattern enters the exploitative phase “Economic Emergency” must be declared. During ‘economic emergency’, the government must have powers to take strong corrective steps and take back the assets exceeding a specified limit. Ceiling on industries may also be considered as an emergency measure disallowing industries to manufacture beyond a specified limit. Strict price control may also be applied.
Though in a free market economy prices are fixed through mutual agreement between sales and purchases it often tends to be on the higher side. The big industries try to make inelastic the demands of even those consumer items that may actually have been elastic, by modifying the perceptions and tastes of the people, and by creating status symbols through high profile advertising and the media. This enables them to fix the prices of their products giving 50-200 per cent profits. In paternalistic economics, the government should play a guardian role; while normally, market may be allowed to fix the prices themselves, the government should compel the manufacturers and traders to reduce prices, if it feels that they are on the higher side. It is ironical that, while the big industrialists get nauseated at the slightest mention of any price control measures by the government they themselves do not permit their wholesalers and retailing agents to charge prices determined by themselves. The government may keep prices in check, either through direct intervention, or may alternatively form a Price Watch; this body may make public the ideal prices of all the products without forcing the companies to follow the directions. Such declarations would be an incentive to those companies that are charging moderate prices for their products; the majority of companies would be left with no choice but to readjust prices at the lowest possible level.
Globalisation is another thing that requires reconsideration; for globalisation is only a trap laid by some developed countries to capture the markets of the developing world. For true globalisation, the trading must be bilateral between any two countries; the amount of trade must be equal, (or there must only be change of goods and not currency), and the developing nations must be allowed to fix the prices of their products using the same parameters that are used by the developed nations. Till now what happens is that the developed countries create an impression that their products are more essential for a prosperous life, and because there is a great amount of research involved in their works, their prices are high. The developing nations are being increasingly lured by foreign investments. They have started believing that their investments are additions to the country’s wealth. They forget that their investment soon starts trapping the wealth of the country which is slowly but steadily drained out of the country. Foreign investments are usually made in purchasing the capital goods and infrastructure; this does hardly benefit the country in which the plants are being set-up. Foreign investments should be allowed only if (1) the investments are utilised in producing such items as are essential for the country, and were being previously imported, (2) if these products are chiefly meant for export, and (3) if all the profits earned are reinvested or spent within the country. If these conditions are not met with, it is better to shun globalisation and restrict foreign investments.
Resurrection of the Scientific Sprit
In the nineteenth and the early twentieth century, science achieved preponderance in the affairs of the world. But, with the march of the twentieth century, economics outsmarted science. This was an ominous development as it led to misuse, in extremely dangerous proportions, of the various disciplines of science. The scientific sprit is no longer visible any-where; scientific researches are being misused to exploit the masses in order to attain economic and political supremacy. The outcome of the misappropriation of science and medicine has been that a large number of life-threatening diseases are increasing in incidence at an alarming pace, people are killing one another, and family peace and social order are conspicuous by their virtual nonexistence. It is, therefore, high time now that the scientific and medical spirit were resurrected without any further delay.
Science in general, is the name given to understanding the truths of the universe and to utilise them in the best possible way for the peace, progress and prosperity of mankind. Medical science, in particular, aims at alleviating the sufferings of men ,and to create conditions favourable for a disease-free and tension-free life. Montgaine (Essays,II) says: “Health is a precious thing, and the only one, in truth, which deserves that we employ in its pursuit not only time, sweat, trouble, and worldly goods, but even life; inasmuch as, without it life comes to be painful and oppressive to us. Pleasure, wisdom, knowledge and virtue, without it, grow tarnished and vanish away.” It is, therefore, essential in keeping with the scientific and medical spirit that all the development, political and administrative activities must be aimed at ensuring health, family peace and social order.
All the disciplines of science are invaluable as they discover the know-how to produce the materials of all hues and colours required by human beings; but, the medical sciences are most important, for the onus of keeping a close vigil on the emerging threats to human existence and inventing remedial measures falls on their shoulders. With the control by the economic fundamentalists on all the branches of social life the capability of the medical experts to influence policy decisions at the national and international level has undergone substantial erosion. If the world is to be rescued from the imminent doom, the medical world must immediately assume a leading role in society; it must not feel shy of holding the reins of administration along with the experts in other scientific fields. The medical scientists must, at least, put themselves in a position where they do not have to follow the directions of the politicians, bureaucrats and economists; instead they must be able to mould the policies in a way that is consistent with healthy life. To achieve this grand objective certain constitutional and administrative measures will have to be taken.
The first major constitutional step that has to be taken is to enshrine “Right to Health” as a Fundamental Right. This will go a big way in guaranteeing that no activity related to any field whatsoever, which can cause, directly or indirectly, serious harm to health, will not be permissible, and all the governmental policies must take into consideration their impact on health before becoming operational. The production, trading, and use of all such items and activities as may cause fatal or paralysing diseases will then become forbidden by law. Those items and activities that are harmful, but do not cause a fatal or paralysing illness, must be discouraged, but not forbidden. To keep a watch on the developments, an autonomous National Health Commission must be constituted in every country. This Commission will conduct health impact studies of all the developments taking place in the country; it must be given constitutional powers to determine whether to allow or not different activities and its decisions must be binding. The Commission must have as its members medical specialists of distinguished career. Similarly, a World Health Commission must be formed to assess the impact on health of the various social, economic and political developments at the international level. The Commission must not be financed by any nation or group of nations, and must be funded through equal contributions from all the countries. The Health Commissions of all the countries must be members of the World Health Commission, and its chairmanship must be rotational.
When the right to health becomes a fundamental right, smoking, drinking and uninhibited sex would automatically become forbidden; for each one of these is responsible for increase in annual mortality of millions of people. This will result in a momentous fall in the incidence of diseases like lung cancer, mouth cancer, cirrhosis, ischaemic heart disease, peptic ulcers, bronchitis, Korsakoff psychosis, syphilis, gonorrhoea, chancroid, herpes, AIDS and a number of psychiatric diseases. The crime and suicide rates would also decline.
The study of the ways in which the medical science can guide and control the social and economic developments on the basis of their real or potential impact on health can be called “Medicosocial Sciences”. This will prove to be an extremely absorbing subject; at the same time, it will be of immense utility for the development of a healthy human society. An aggressive pursuit of knowledge in the field is the crying need of the hour.
The World Health Organisation has failed abysmally in its role as the saviour of the world. It has become a mere pawn in the hands of some powers. The economic fundamentalists are able to influence in a big way the decisions of the WHO. The sad truth is that it has outlived its utility and the sooner it is wound up the better.
The infectious diseases are still the major cause of morbidity and mortality in the developing countries; these are also reappearing in the Western countries. The diseases like Tuberculosis, Malaria, and Diarrhoea in infants and worm infestation are big hazards and must be tackled on a war footing. The world bodies have shown indifference towards the primary preventive measures because the multinational drug companies have vested interests in the continuation of these diseases. The essential requirement for the prevention of infectious diseases is total hygiene. Village to village and street to street campaigns are required to teach the importance of hygiene to the masses. Anti-mosquito drives must be regularly conducted. Tuberculosis surveillance camps must be organised in every village and every mohalla at least thrice a year. There should be no excise duty and sales tax on medicines so that the masses can easily buy them. The physicists, chemists, nuclear scientists and experts of other fields must vow that they would not allow their researches to be used for destructive purposes.
Humanisation of Civilization
Under the maddening effect of economic fundamentalism, civilization has taken a back seat. The neo-junglisation of the world is almost complete. People enjoy appearing naked in public, care little for one another, are busy in trampling upon other’s rights, and are killing one another with impunity. Man has, been converted either into animal following only his instincts, or into machine bereft of human sentiments, working day and night for the ultimate benefit of the economic fundamentalists. The big business is always keen to project even the baser instincts as normal human behaviour. The criteria of civilization have been so devised as to sweep the seamier side of the ongoing developments under the carpet. The solution to this horrendous state of affairs lies in humanisation of civilization.
It is true that human beings are animals. But it is equally true that human beings are human beings. They may eat, mate and die like animals but, in addition, they possess an extraordinary healthy relationship with fellow humans, a highly sensitive conscience that censors their activities and supreme spirituality that seeks to instill divine virtues in them. Liberty, in the modern era, has only become an instrument invented by the economic fundamentalists for the purpose of imprisoning the conscience and spirituality of human beings. These must now be liberated and allowed to function without fear. Once the conscience and spirituality are set free, humanisation of mankind will rapidly progress. Man will then not only enjoy the fruits of material developments, but will also ensure that this is done in a way as would not disturb his mental peace and social order.
The ruthless suppression of the human conscience and spirituality, the promotion of materialism and the laxity of the legal system have helped crime to reach dangerous levels. But the economic fundamentalists have purposely based the criteria of development and progress only on the material advances and have omitted the rate of crimes and the level of mental peace for this purpose. Different kinds of approach will now have to be adopted to gauge the level of the progress of civilization. New criteria will have to be fixed for finding out the conditions prevailing in different parts of the world. One of these, for example, may be the Peace Level that would determine the most and the least peaceful nations of the world. To find out the Peace Level, one can use the following formula: Peace Level = 1/Rate of murder + rapes + suicides per 1000 population x 100.
On the basis of Peace Level, the countries may be categorised into Turbulent, Disturbed, Peaceful and Highly Peaceful nations.
Similarly, another criterion, the Civilization Level may be introduced. This may be calculated by the following formula.
Civilization Level = Peace Level x Per Capita Income x Assets Distribution Index. On the basis of Civilization Level, the countries may be categorized into Barbaric, Uncivilized, Civilized and Highly Civilized nations.
There must be a world body to keep a close watch on these levels. The body must present its report every year. This would automatically bring peace into focus, and the less peaceful nations will be under tremendous pressure to improve their record. The new criteria will also show the hollowness of the “development” of the so called developed countries.
Mobilisation of Public Opinion
Till a few decades back, the leftist tendencies had their impact on the popular campaigns, but, during the last decade, the non-governmental organisations all over the world have been successfully manoeuvred, through grant-in-aids, to work on the lines consistent with the interests of the big business. In order to stall the march of economic fundamentalism, a new direction will have to be given to the various welfare programmes that are already running, and new campaigns will have to be started.
Population Control programme is running almost all over the world. In most of the countries, this is being done under the name of Family Planning or Family Welfare. The fact that these programmes are being pursued by the capitalist the communist as well as many Islamic countries indicates that there is, at least, some substance in the popular perception that the rapid growth of the population is hazardous for mankind. At the same time, there are several reasons to argue that it is not the population growth but the unequal distribution of wealth and resources that is responsible for the various problems consequent of the population growth. It is, however, unquestionably true that the inability of the married couples to properly space their children on account of the hesitancy on the part of mothers to actively breast-feed their children for an adequate period of time, and the negligence of mother’s health by the husbands have resulted in an unbalanced growth of population producing several adverse effects on the health of various members of the family. There is, therefore, no harm in continuing campaigns convincing the couples for having only as many children as their physical, social and financial conditions can bear. More important than this is the question: is family welfare limited or should be limited to limitation of the size of family? The Family Welfare Programme mooted by the West is, in truth, aimed at destroying the family system. This is why they do not only convince the people to marry as late as possible, but also suggest premarital sex to satisfy their sexual urges. Similarly, they promote habits like drinking, smoking and gambling that, more often than not, have adverse effects on their family. A perfect family welfare programme cannot be pursued at the cost of the family peace. It must, in fact, include campaigns against all such practices, especially drinking, smoking and gambling and promiscuity, as are the biggest factors in the disintegration of families. It must be aimed at creating an atmosphere in families where husbands, wives and children live in permanent tranquility respecting one another’s’ rights, needs and sentiments. Preservation of the family system must be the top priority, if future human generations are to be kept free of severe psychological stresses and social problems. It would make more sense if “Family Welfare” is transformed into “Family Building” and “Population Control” is converted into “Population Management”. People must not necessarily be encouraged to have a very small family but a balanced, healthy and peaceful one. If all the families bring up healthy children, there is proper management of the economic system, and the resources and materials are equitably distributed, Nature will surely take care of all human needs. If size of the family is made to shrink, but there is no population management, disparities in income would not let humans lead a peaceful life. Furthermore, the animal population would start rising. For example, in a country like India, even if the rate of population growth becomes zero, hardly any improvement can be expected in general conditions in the near future, unless drastic population management measures are resorted to. These must comprise not only the strategies for more equitable distribution of money, but also for the equitable distribution of population (urban and rural), the assets, the facilities (educational, medical, etc.), and the privileges. If the urban areas are becoming crowded, it is due to continuous migration from the villages to cities, and the crowding will not stop till the migration is not stopped, in spite of the goals of population control having been achieved. You go a few kilometres out of any city and you will see few human beings. The whole economic system is presently aimed at directing the flow of wealth from the poor to the rich and from the rich to the richest which also means from the villages to the cities, and from the smaller cities to the bigger cities. And along with the flow flows the population. If we stop this unidirectional flow of wealth; the flow of population will also stabilise.
Literacy drives are the order of the day all over the world, because the economic fundamentalists are convinced that the rise in literacy level would correspondingly boost their plans. But, literacy, bereft of moral education, would only make them better consumers, not better human beings. All literacy campaigns must include moral teaching. Even small lessons of honesty and respect for others’ rights would go a long way in making men and women sufficiently civilized.
The non-governmental organisations have to play a pivotal role in bringing about the required changes. They must realise that by playing into the hands of some funding agencies, they are causing great harm to society. Their aim must be to mobilise the people for building up pressure on the policy makers to keep the interests of the common people uppermost in their minds while formulating different plans and programmes. These organisations must also ensure cohesion among themselves so that the funding agencies may not use pressure tactics to force them to act in the way they like. The N.G.Os have the capability to bring revolution in the world, and they must endeavour in that direction so that this aim is achieved sooner than later.
Universalization of the World
The big business in West required for the expansion of their empire support from their governments. Initially, it was done through military interventions. But, after the second World War, indirect methods were preferred Several bodies were formed at the international level that, in practical, safeguarded only the Western interests or at the most, the interests of the big business. With the fall of Soviet empire in the 1980s, the time was ripe for attempting a rapid expansion of their economic domain. Hence, Globalisation came into sharp focus. Globalisation hardly means globalisation of economics, but de facto, it is the globalisation of the Western economic ideology.
To antagonise economic fundamentalism at the international level, drastic measures have to be taken. The first, of course, must be reconstitution of the UN. The UN must be truly democratic in character; all nations must be equal in rights as well aa duties. There is no way a democratic organisation of the countries can run successfully, if some of its members have unqualified rights over the others. The growing regional powers like India, Japan and Germany must not campaign for extension of veto power to few other countries including themselves. They must openly seek abolition of veto. If the big powers do not agree to this, they must be bold enough to start the process of formation of an alternative body, and must, along with all the opponents of veto power, resign forthwith from the UN. This is the only way pressure may be mounted on the US, the Britain, France, and their allies. It must be ensured that all the constituent parts of UN concentrate on the problems of the world as a whole, and endeavour to find out the right kind of solutions -- the solutions that do not have ulterior commercial motives. The call for globalisation of the world must be changed with that of universalisation of the globe. The universalisation must be directed at opening of the world’s natural resources and know-how, wherever they exist, for the benefit of all those who need it, wherever they live on the earth. The countries holding reservoirs of natural products must seek reasonable price and must not indulge in blackmailing tactics. The UN must redefine its objectives. To ensure health, family peace, social order and a war-less world must be its basic goals. Strict action must be taken against any country violating the UN code. The office bearers of various bodies must be rotational.
The human rights organisations must stop cheating the world in the name of human rights. Instead of being sympathetic to the criminals, they must show concern for the masses. It is, undoubtedly, important that there should not be any political killings, the convicts should not be given punishment more in severity than their crimes, nobody must be lodged in jails without proper trial, the accused should be given proper opportunity to defend themselves, and abuse of children and women should be stopped. Still more important, however, is the guarantee that there are no murders, no rapes, no dacoities, no bribes and no suicides in society. Furthermore, it should be ensured that no woman or child is entrapped in the sex market, no human embryo is aborted in the name of reproductive rights, an environment is created where women including divorcees and widows find it easier and safer to marry, women do not have to suffer on account of the habits of drinking and gambling of their husbands or fathers, and the children develop in a peaceful family, free of tensions due to alcoholism, gambling, separations, divorce, or fights between parents due to their extramarital liaisons.
The world bodies like the UNICEF, UNDP, UNPP, WHO, World Population Fund, etc. must base their schemes, plans and programmes not on the basis of fallacious sets of promises, articulated by theorists under the influence of the economic fundamentalists, but on the basis of objective analysis. Their policies must be result oriented; a policy that gives better result has to be better. A legal system that, drastically, reduces the crimes, a sociological pattern that remarkably lowers the social tensions, and a health policy that effectively prevents the diseases have to be preferred and put into action. Polemics are no answer to problems. Problems must be solved by all possible means; the only golden maxim that should be followed is that the solution must not produce bigger problems than the problem it seeks to solve. A lesser evil can substitute a bigger evil, and not vice versa.
Economics has been defined by the great Victorian economist Alfred Marshall as “the study of mankind in everyday business of life”. What follows from the long discussions in the proceeding pages is that the chequered career of economic fundamentalism has now reached a sort of stability. The recent history of “economic growth” can as well be described as the history of exploitation of mankind, which has now reached its zenith. Before the beginning of the eighteenth century, the world was ruled by religion and law. The scientific and industrial revolutions that followed paced their courses simultaneously. By the end of the nineteenth century, science had become a virtual ruler. But Economics did not lag far behind. Since the middle of the twentieth century, Economics has taken a clear lead; and now science is only in a supportive role helping the cause of Western hegemony without trying to persuade to follow non-destructive policies.
It is not that the economists of past have not pointed out the exploitative tendencies of the commercial giants. The earlier economists had distinct moral proclivities Adam Smith had argued that “economic successes beyond the level necessary for the satisfaction of one’s physical wants does not add to a man’s real happiness, and it is only vanity, the desire to be looked upon by one’s fellowmen with admiration and envy that motivates the incessant accumulation of personal wealth”. He strongly contradicted the theory of Bernard de Mandevelle that private vice was a public virtue. According to Smith, “the desire for admiration and envy is an inferior virtue derived from the great virtue of sympathy of sharing the feelings of others”. He attempted to unveil the selfish face of the businessmen by stating that “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, brewer, and baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard for their own interests”. Despite Smith being an advocate of capitalism, he was quick in denouncing the self-interests of the merchants and manufacturers. He stressed that “profit hunger conflicts with public interest”. He went as far as defining the monopoly as “infamous covetousness…..which does not shrink from terrorization and crime”. He remarked that “people of the same trade seldom convene without their entertainment ending in a conspiracy against the public or a scheme for an increase of prices”. He vehemently pleaded for the reconciliation of private and public interests. He judged that there were two price theories and out of the two only the one for competition was a part of the system and the one for monopoly was only a foreign body. He lambasted the desire of man to “reap where they had not sown”. He had rightly described the joint stock companies as doing business on other people’s money. But Smith’s concern for the people was unfortunately not shared by the latter economists. Malthus reinterpreted nature and reason and was cruel enough to draw the conclusion that “poor are themselves the cause of their own poverty”. Thus he exonerated the capitalists of the charge that they were responsible for the plight of the poor. Several writers have argued that Malthus’ comments were aimed at appealing to the poor to improve their conditions by their own efforts. They forget that in the world of exploitation there have to be the exploiters and the exploited and without exploiting others one can hardly improve one’s condition; and if it is so, it is impossible for all the people to become rich. What is however possible is the transfer of poverty from some individuals to others. It was also Malthus who was responsible for the development of the idea of excessive population growth, which has lately become the greatest tool in the hands of the economic fundamentalists to absolve themselves of all the responsibility to improve the conditions of the poor and also to divert the flow of money from the agricultural producers to the industrialists. Malthus had also emphasised the necessity of a social class of people who were in the habit of spending their money.
The first indication of the desire of the manufacturers and traders to globalise economic can be noticed in the Manchester Doctrine which achieved fame in 1846 when Corn Laws were dissolved in the UK. The proponents of this doctrine, also known as the Vulgarized Theory, expected that the spread of free trade would lead to “diminution of the importance of political borderlines, integration of the several national economics into one worldwide economic system the constituent parts of which would be not the national economies but the private business enterprises participating in production and trade, and world peace resulting from international intercourse and from the impossibility of waging war in conditions of over-increasing mutual dependence.” Bastial introduced the concept of service to the consumer as the explanation of any kind of income and thus gave a new voice to exploitative practices under the name of laissez faire. Fredrich Last, on the other hand, was sharply critical of free trade. He gives an argument that speaks volumes of his understanding of the exploitative tendencies of the merchants. He lambasted free trade as a conspiracy by the special interests posing as the general interests. He also emphasized that industry was not a natural growth and it was the creation of luring men who change in history. From among the early socialists, Rodberus drew a historical conclusion which he gave as economic explanation of imperialism saying that imperialism was nothing but the use of military power of the national state to subjugate pre-industrial countries and capture their markets.
Marx, the most known socialist of the history, built up his revolutionary economic theory against capitalism. He concluded that “accumulation of wealth at one pole…. (meant)…at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toll, slavery….. at the opposite side.” The members of Historical School too opposed the policy of laissez faire, and insisted upon the need for governmental intervention. They reckoned that state alone was competent enough to secure for the people a justice which is impossible to achieve by pursuing the policy of laissez faire. They however had no inkling of the fact that the economic fundamentalists had developed plans even to manoeuvre the governments. Even if the right of state to intervene remained, at least in principle, it would intervene only in a negative way because the politicians would not ignore the interests of their masters in the industry.
Marx had accepted labour alone as the genuine income, and altogether disclaimed profit or capital. The neoclassical economists rediscovered the classical principle that capital was “previously done labour” and explained that capital was land and labour employed for deferred ends. The earlier neo-classicists stressed the need of an equilibrium in economics which denoted the coincidence of the maximum satisfaction of the individual with that of society. But later the equilibrium was reduced to the satisfaction of the individual. The German economist, Heirich Von Stackelberg proved that due to imperfect competition, “if the economic world disintegrates into a wasteful struggle of monopolies without a spontaneously integrating force, then the force of state must be called upon.” He regarded this to be a Fascist form of economics and suggested that “order through liberty” would have to be replaced by “order through force”. The time had arrived, he emphasised, when it must be recognized that the concept of a system of monopoly was the very negation of everything economics stood for.
The economic theorists who explained the interests of the business class in a better way continued to be glorified. Wisksell was the first after 150 years to establish a correlation between the theory of interest and that of money and defended the tendency of businessmen to demand easy money. He argued that the “natural rate of interests” was that at which the available supply of capital was easily absorbed by those seeking funds for investment. Keynes, one of the most acclaimed modern economists, pointed out that saving was dangerous for economy; for instead of automatically increasing investment, it was in itself a reduction of effective demand.
The present economic system has travelled a long way to establish a hold of the economic fundamentalists in the world. It can be summed up that this system is mainly based on the creation of demands through whatever means possible – disinformation, high-pitched advertising of the positive aspects of the products, reconditioning of tastes and utilisation of human weaknesses. Terms like “consumerism” and “capitalism” too are in fact deliberate creations of the economic fundamentalists. By blaming consumerism, they want to shift the blame for the current socioeconomic problems of the world on the common people. They seem to suggest that, if they are selling consumer items and are earning high profits out of it, it is simply because the people are becoming increasingly inclined to use these items. Had there been no demand, they argue, how they could market them. They ignore the fact that the demands, as mentioned above, are not always natural; more often, they are artificially created. It must also be clear that the demands are not always genuine; many of them are based on covetousness and are in total disregard of their impact on the surroundings. All demands therefore need not be met with. For example, if there is demand for destructive weapons, would they be made available in the open market; if there is a demand for poison for the sake of killing others, would it be made available to whoever seeks it? For most of the supplies made by the market forces, no demand was in fact made by the people. The truth is that the majority of the people do not even have any prior knowledge of what would be supplied to them in the coming future. The economic fundamentalists study the weaknesses of human beings and then exploit them in creating demands. And after the creation of demands for a certain item, they attempt to monopolise its market by popularising a specific brand.
Similarly, to blame capitalism is also erroneous. It also provides the economic fundamentalists with a tool which they use with tremendous effect. They can say that they are earning profits, even if somewhat on the higher side than is expected from them, because they invest the capital. Without capital, they assert, production is not possible and, therefore, they deserve profit for that. It is now the right time to tell them that if capital is important for production labour is no less essential, Furthermore, if capital is a “previously done labour” and is therefore, entitled for profit, why is the ‘current labour’ entitled only for wages and not for profit. Still more important is the fact that even the capital they boast of is only partially theirs; a large portion of it also comes from the people, either through banks or stock exchanges. They may of course be entitled to some additional gains for their entrepreneurship but the importance of professionals, the skilled and unskilled labours and the money of the people cannot be denied; without them, entrepreneurship would not have any value. Justice, therefore, demands equitable distribution of profits among all those who contribute in production.
Thus it can be said that the development of modern economic theory has not been without resistance from certain quarters. But what is unfortunate is that even the economists, who believed in maintaining equilibrium between the individual and society, could not see that economics was only a part of the whole social system. They showed concern hither and thither for the health, family system (in fact, many believed in the disintegration of the family system) and social order, but they could not streamline their views into a well-knit, elaborate system of peaceful existence of all human beings.
To sum up, the economic fundamentalists have grown in power by following well-defined objectives which may be enumerated as follows:
1. To increase demands of goods in the market by:
(a) Changing perceptions of the people
(b) Creating false standards of life
© Fanning human desires
(Without, of course, caring for their adverse impact on the individual, family or society).
2. To monopolise supplies through extensive advertising and through friendly governmental policies as they give them the right to use specific brand names
3. To monopolise assets and money by
(a) saving their own money and converting it into long-lasting assets (that would continue to increase in value); and
(b) using public money for their own business.
4. To attract public money by encouraging them to :
(a) squander whatever they earn;
(b) to invest whatever they save, in the banks or stock market
5. To recover whatever they have to part with either as taxes or interests to the financial agencies by regularly increasing the prices
6. To pay to their employees much less than what they deserve
7. To throttle all those sectors (agricultural and small scale industry) that are doing business without the involvement of the big industrialists
8. To mastermind welfare programmes that do not adversely affect their interests and/or help their cause—directly or indirectly
9. To commercialise every strength, weakness and need of human beings without caring for their effect on health, family or society.
In the last chapter, I have given broad outlines of what can be done to undo the damage done by economic fundamentalism. The objectives of the economic set up, indicated in this book, that may be named “Healthy Economics”, or “Peace Economics” may be summed up as follows:
1. To visualise economics as not the only, but one of the important parts of human life;
2. To ensure that all the social and economic developments must be aimed at safeguarding the health of all individuals, family peace and social order;
3. To ensure that the industrialists do not earn at the cost of labour and consumers;
4. To ensure that the money of the rich is so used as to benefit the common people, and not the vice versa by:
(a) Changing the tax structure (imposing assets tax rather than income tax);
(b) Giving due representation to the small share holders in policy decisions;
© Distributing the profits among all those who have contributed in the success of the company;
5. To guarantee that the susceptibilities and weaknesses of human beings are not misused for commercial purpose:
(a) By banning commercial exploitation of all forms of addiction and sex;
(b) By strengthening the legal system so that the exploiters and oppressors find it impossible to continue their activities;
6. To ensure that political and legal set-ups promote healthy economics;
7. To ensure that social values are shaped in accordance with their impact on health and social conditions, and religions play an effective role in reducing tensions at all levels.
Thus, the rise and growth of economic fundamentalism has been, from historical standards, rather rapid taking hardly a few centuries. The think-tank of the world of economic fundamentalism has taken innumerable steps to strengthen their hold; they have paralysed the law, manoeuvred politics and administration, marÂginalised religion, captured the media, remodelled social values, commercialised sex, hijacked educational set-up, restructured the foundations of economics, misappropriated science and technology, masterminded popular movements, dehumanised the civilisation and colonised the globe. In the coming pages, each of these steps will be briefly anaÂlysed.