The Bharatiya model of economic development is a counter-narrative to the unbridled capitalism and static communism
Traditionally, the global approach to economic development and distribution has confined itself to two models of economic prosperity: Communism-socialism and capitalism. The Western world champions the cause of capitalism, which is based on free individual-led capital growth, unregulated market economy, its ethos of free trade, maximum profit and minimal state interference. In contrast, communism is a state-controlled economy where the state not only regulates the economy but also runs it.
Communism has collapsed and the inherent contradictions of the capitalist world are making it weak, fragile and unsustainable. Beyond this binary, however, there is a way which is the Bharatiya model of economic development, which is a counter-narrative to the unbridled capitalism and static communism. This Bharatiya model is an Indianised way of economic development and prosperity. This model has its roots in Indian culture and it was espoused in a coherent form by the post-Independence Indian thinker, Dattopant Thengadi.
India has seen a shift in its economic policies since 2014. The economic policies followed by the present regime are ideologically mentored by the Indian economic ethos which is perceptibly and contrastingly different from the binary of the capitalist-socialist model. This Bharatiya economic model has started paying its dividends which are being reflected in major economic indicators such as GDP growth rate, India emerging as an economic superpower and massive welfare-distributive measures. So much so that a near impossible miracle of attaining the export target of $400 billion has been achieved in March 2022.
Some of the salient features of the Bharatiya model of development are:
- It is neither a capitalist model of economic development nor a communist-socialist model of economic development. Both these models evolved in Europe and are Euro-centric in nature, manifesting the specific-prevailing economic conditions and development of Europe. For example, exploitation of colonies by European countries has influenced these economic models a lot, whereas sucking away of material wealth in colonised countries like India has affected economic prosperity in the colonised India.
- For initiating economic changes, these have to be preceded by subjective changes in economic institutions and their perceptions. Dattopant Thengadi argues in his book that “no material objective transformation can be successful unless it is preceded and accompanied by an appropriate subjective, psychological transformation”. So, to follow a Bharatiya model of development, a thought process of being a Bharatiya has to be there.
- The Bharatiya model of economic development has its cultural roots which has evolved and flourished in the Indian subcontinent. Many of the ideas, principles and economic thoughts of the Bharatiya model of prosperity have withstood the tests of time. Also, this model was followed successfully in the Indian subcontinent and was the raison d’etre for the prosperity and material well-being of the Indian civilisation. Since the days of the Indus-Saraswati civilisation, India has been known for its superior products and manufacturing sector.
- Avoiding the weaknesses of both capitalism and communism, it advocates instead an indigenous, sustainable path with a special focus on environmental preservation. It is pertinent to note that focus on sustainable development is conspicuous by its absence in both the capitalist and communist model. So, in a way the Bharatiya model green-lights the much talked about green economy. It emphasises on economy without compromising ecology.
- It is Aatmanirbhar Bharat where the focus on local products is not aimed against global products; instead, local products are globalised. So, without being import restrictive, we are export-oriented. Today, India is moving towards self-reliance, but it does not mean that India is talking about being an insular economy.
- Patriotism in no way was against internationalism, rather both can co-exist. Swadeshi is the outward and practical manifestation of Bharatiyata and aatmanirbarta is not incompatible with international cooperation, provided there is a level-play field and an equal opportunity at the global level.
- True to the Indian ethos, the main focus is on novelty, naivety and creativity.
- The Bharatiya model is not only wealth creation but also wealth distribution. With respect to the distribution of the economic resources, it speaks of Antyodaya, which is giving benefits to everyone starting from the lowest on the economic ladder.
- With respect to the role of the state in economic development, it emphasises on minimum government and maximum governance. Instead of the government being a co-producer, the government should be a regulator. The main task of the government is welfare distribution.
Economic analysts look for economic indicators such as benchmarks in exports from two perspectives: Temporary phenomenon or structural change. The Bharatiya model is being executed since 2014 and is inching toward its full potential. This has resulted in structural and fundamental changes in the economy. It has also given the ‘economic sentiment’ a boost which has given the Make in India brand a global outlook. This feat of record export of $400 billion is achieved despite the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, uncertain global order, war in Central Asia and other domestic issues. It averages out to be export of $46 million goods every hour, $1 billion goods are exported every day and $33 billion every month.
Further, the export basket has diversified in which exports of engineering goods, petroleum and chemicals in February increased by 32 per cent, 88.14 per cent and 25.38 per cent to $9.32 billion, $ 4.64 billion and $2.4 billion, respectively. Furthermore, the welfare scheme of distribution of free food grains to 80 crore people is the distributive aspect of the Indian model which has benefited all the targeted sections of the Indian society, particularly those at the lowest rung of the poverty pyramid. It is clear that the Bharatiya model is showing its true strength now and it is the right way forward.
The writer is an independent columnist. Views expressed are personal.
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