Search for an Alternative Model of Development (2)

Published: 16.09.2008
Updated: 07.01.2009

Preliminary Version
of the

Theme Paper

3rd International Dialogue on Economics of Non-Violence: "Alternative Economics"

organized by

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

November 13-14, 2008

This paper is prepared by the International Centre for Economics of Non-violence & Sustainability (ICENS) in keeping with the vision given by H.H. Acharya Mahapragyaji - a Jain Saint & spiritual visionary of our times. Five Round Table Conferences were held under the chairmanship of Acharya Mahaprgayji from April 2008 to July 2008 and this paper is a result of these discussions and would be used as a theme paper for the forthcoming Third International Dialogue on "Economics of Non-violence: Alternative Economics" scheduled to be held in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India on November 13-14, 2008. ICENS is grateful to Prof. L.N. Nathuramka, a leading Economist for his untiring efforts in facilitating this important work right from its inception.

Search for an Alternative Model of Development

Recently there has been a spate of literature on economic growth, and some scintillating and sober reports, treatises and articles have appeared in the press on this topic. Eminent experts and economists like Michael Spence (Nobel Laureate), Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Arvind Pangariha, Arvind Subramanian, Arvind Virmani, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Dani Rodrik, Shankar Acharya, to name only a few, have contributed their views on various developmental issues. Eleventh Five Year Plan, 2007-2012, published by the Planning Commission, Govt. of India, has highlighted the objective of 'Fast Growth and Inclusive Growth' to be achieved in the next phase of planning in India. Here it is necessary to emphasise that the goal of 'Inclusive Growth' is laudable, because it tries to reduce the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots', between the rich and the poor, between the urban and the rural areas, between per capita earnings from agriculture and other economic sectors, between SC, ST, OBCs and other communities in the society, between the literates and the illiterates, between men and women, between traditional and modern technologies, and so on and so forth. These gaps are not only irritants in society, but they give rise to conflicts, which at times create law and order problems in the smooth functioning of the democratic polity and beyond a point become quite unmanageable also. Therefore, now the emphasis has shifted towards sustainable development as the final goal of development, because it caters to the needs of the present generation as well as the future generation. Therefore, it is regarded as the necessary desideration for a more safer and more secure world. But we shall see later on that for achieving the goal of sustained growth, we need sustainability not only in the economic sphere, but also in political, environmental, energy and other spheres, that affect our everyday life and our human behaviour in its totality.

Development Experience of Countries Differ Widely:

It is interesting to note that over a long period the growth rates have differed widely among various developing countries. Following table indicates the per capita GDP in 2004-06 as a ratio of per capita GDP in 1960-62, in 2000 US $ terms. At both the ends, the average for three years has been taken for more valid comparisons:





South Korea








Saudi Arabia




(Source: Macroscan, article by C.P. Chandrasekhar & Jayati Ghosh, in Business Line, August 12, 2008, p.9)

The table indicates that over a period of 46 years, per capita real income of China increased by about 17 times, while that of India by about 3 times, and that of Kuwait declined to a level of 1/5 of its initial level. Thus, some countries grew faster, while others grew at a moderate rate, and some countries even stagnated, or even declined in terms of growth-performance. Thus, the sustained growth and high growth is an exception, rather than the rule. Saudi Arabia experienced a sharp decline in its per capita GDP from the early 1980s, but could not reach the earlier levels by 2006, despite the rise in oil prices in the later period.

Such substantial differences in growth rates in different countries lead us to examine the basic causes for this phenomenon, so that steps may be initiated by the laggards to speed up their 'catching-up' process. Growth process in different countries is very much influenced by their initial stages of development, natural resources, technological capabilities, their developmental efforts and governance standards, etc. Here we must remember that Growth is not everything, but it is the foundation for everything. It won't be an exaggeration to say that, other things remaining the same, high growth is a necessary condition for inclusive growth, and later for sustainable growth - and for making frontal, firm, and even full attack on problems of poverty, unemployment, disease, illiteracy, ignorance and backwardness in developing countries.

From Dirigiste Regime to Neo-Liberal Regime for Development:

Prior to the wave of liberalization across the world (the cut-off point may be taken from 1979, when China decided to walk on the road of economic liberalisation), the doctrine of communism, and its milder version of socialism, had a great appeal for economic transformation in countries like Soviet Union, and some countries of Eastern Europe such as Hungary, Poland, Eastern Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, etc. Dirigiste Regime was liked, because it was believed that total state control over economic and social decisions could alone maximize the welfare of the people. The tilt towards 'socialist pattern of society in India' during Nehruvian period was largely influenced by Soviet experiences in this regard. China and Cuba also followed 'Statism' for quite sometime in their economic domain. But, gradually the interest towards state control and state domination started withering and waning, and the era of Adam Smith ushered in, which emphasized that human beings are rational self-interested beings, and they take decisions to maximize their individual gains, which also benefit the entire society. Country after country started adopting economic liberalization in their pursuit of accelerating economic growth. It is important to note that Soviet Union and China also opted for 'market socialist economy' as their new ideal; while emerging market economies like India, after being fed up with 'Licence, Permit, Quota (LPQ) Raj.' under the so-called socialist brand Regime, adopted the Neo-liberal Economic Policy of 'Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation' (LPG) from 1991; when Indian Economy was practically in ICU, facing deep economic crisis, due to acute shortage of foreign exchange reserves and continuous spiralling prices, along with deficits in trade and fiscal spheres.

  1. Pluses for China and India:

    It is necessary to make an impartial and critical assessment of the impact of economic liberalization on Chinese development as well as Indian development. Both are highly populated economies. There is no denying the fact that both countries have enjoyed high growth rates, rising export levels, rising foreign exchange reserves and rising foreign capital inflows in the form of FDIs and FIIs, etc. during the reform period. China has consistently enjoyed growth rates between 9 to 10 per cent after 1979 for about three decades, which is a remarkable feat. China's economy is only a fourth in size of the $14 trillion US economy at present, but China's output may exceed America's in 2020s, projects Goldman Sachs. China has become a dam builder for the whole world. It seems to be commissioning a 1,000 MW power station every week, rather every other week. Its performance in August 2008 in Olympics has been astonishingly great, and admired by all in the world.

    India's economic growth after 1991 has improved and during the Tenth Plan Period, 2002-07, it has reached a record level of 7.8% (although it exceeded the level of 9% each year during 2005-06 and 2006-07, at 1999-2000 prices).

    Thus, both countries have attained high growth paths after the adoption of economic reforms and are regarded as high performing nations today. Their Foreign Exchange Reserves have attained high levels, China's Forex level at about $1800 billion, and India's a little more than $300 billion at present, indicate their achievements in this regard. China could take a bold step of starting a 'Sovereign Wealth Fund' of $200 billion from its Foreign Exchange Reserves to increase its earnings by investing it abroad. Due to its surpluses in current account, China could afford to set up a SWF, but India has been hesitant to set up the same so far, although some experts convincingly suggest that it could also take the initiative in this respect because its foreign exchange reserves are much more than meeting its requirements for its normal imports for 3 months, and short-term external indebtedness level at present. It is hoped that the decision to set up a SWF by India will be taken up in due course. Thus, the economies of both the countries have improved considerably during the reform period, and they have become resilient, resurgent and resonant, economies, and have taken their rightful place amongst high performing economies of the world. The confidence of international community has increased in both the economies, which is exhibited in ever-increasing inflows of foreign investment capital in both countries in recent years.

  2. Minuses for both China and India:

    Having mentioned about the gains of globalisation, we should nor be oblivious about some of the big losses and great shortcomings in the achievements by both the countries.

    In the post-liberalisation period, income-inequalities have accentuated in both the countries. The benefits of growth have not been shared equitably across regions and across different types of individual groups in society. This has given rise to discontents and conflicts between people living on sea-coasts and those in far-off areas. Coastal areas have been benefited more due to more trading facilities for exports and imports of goods, essential for development.


As the liberalization process has given a boost to industrial manufacturing activity in both the countries, energy consumption has got a fillip with adverse impact on Green House Gases (GHGs), which are increasing at a rapid rate. Constantly rising emissions of GHGs in developed and developing countries have given rise to the issue of commitments by them to set targets to reduce emissions in future. This matter was discussed at the Thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007 by 190 countries. This issue is directly related with climate change and global warming. There are problems associated with the melting of glaciers and overall scarcity of water across the world. The problem of sea level rise would have serious implications not only for our coast time, but also for our neighbouring countries like Bagladesh, Maldives, etc. Agriculture in India will be affected by climate change, and its productivity would decline further, more particularly in crops like wheat, with adverse affects on the livelihood of large number of people in India.

It was agreed in the Bali conference that "deep cuts" in global emissions would be required to protect mankind from the impending danger to sustainable development, in case appropriate national mitigation actions are not taken in the near future in this regard.

The issue of global warming was again taken up in Hokkaido, Japan, in July 2008, when the G-8 industrialised nations met for their annual summit. But here again, the world's largest emitter of green house gases, the United States ruled out setting in quantitative reduction targets and the related timetable in this regard. The US demands mandatory emission cuts from developing countries like China and India also in this regard. It should be noted that the European Union of 25 countries has set a medium-term target of cutting its emissions to a level between 20% to 30% below the 1990 levels by 2020. Therefore, China and India will also be required to initiate steps to reduce GHGs to correct the ills of the current pattern of global development. There is no denying the fact that the emissions of GHGs in India are much lower than that of developed economies like the US, the EU, Japan, etc. But we too can't shirk our responsibility to reduce emissions in our territory. The National Action Plan of Climate Change (NAPCC) of India has been unveiled by the Prime Minister of India in July 2008 to promote sustainable growth of India in future. Although we have not declared any target so far to reduce the level of emissions, yet we shall ensure energy efficiency and protect our eco-system by taking appropriate measures.

Jeffrey D. Sachs in his famous book: Commonwealth Economics for a Crowded Planet, published in 2008, has highlighted an important fact that China has surpassed the United States in annual emissions of Carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel use, and will be the single largest contributor to human-made climate change in future. He has also indicated that China's demand for raw materials from different parts of the world has increased enormously, such as massive imports of soyabeans from Brazil for animal feed due to boom in meat consumption in its territory, massive imports of tropical hardwoods from South East Asia and Africa to support its huge constructional activity, massive imports of oil from the Middle East and the Caspian Sea and massive imports of exotic animal products for traditional delicacies or aphrodisiacs, (which are aimed at promoting sexual desire) at the cost of the extinction of several megafauna, like tigers, etc. in Africa and Asia. China is expected to account for more than 50% of global iron-ore consumption, 42% of aluminium consumption and a third of nickel output. Thus, behind the so called unprecedently high growth rate of China over the last three decades, one should not ignore the colossal losses in terms of large scale deforestations, environmental degradation and great decay of human values, caused by the pursuit of such reckless material advancement at all costs. Thus, beneath the mad race for rapid growth under unbridled and high speed globalisation, there is a lurking fear that the day is not far off, when mankind would be required to search for an alternative model of sustainable growth in future. The present trend is leading towards a highly unsustainable, unsafe and insecure world order. More on this under the presentation on sustainable economic model later on.

Some Negative Impact of Neo-liberal Economic Policies on India:

It would be useful to refer to some negative impacts on Indian economy as a result of the pursuit of globalization so far. Following points should be noted in this respect.

    1. It has adversely affected our goal of national self-reliance of Nehruvian era to some extent. As India is a vast country of a more or less continental size, we need to follow domestic economic policies of labour-intensive and employment-generating nature to create massive job opportunities for the people, particularly in rural areas. Globalisation has resulted in improvement over the external front such as foreign exchange reserves through increase in exports and inflows of foreign capital, but it has exposed Indian economy to global uncertainties and economic volatilities due to developments abroad, particularly in USA and oil exporting countries. For example, in the recent past, heavy foreign capital inflows led to the problem of exchange rate appreciation of the Indian rupee, leading to an adverse impact on our export performance in some sectors. Problem of inflation has come on the forefront and solution to it is not responding adequately to fiscal, monetary and administrative measures, adopted by the government so far to control it.

    2. Neo-liberal economic policy has not helped us in resolving emerging problems on the fiscal front. Gross Fiscal Deficit as a ratio of GDP at the centre is likely to be much higher than 2.5%, as projected in the central budget for 2008-09, due to massive financial burden from debt-waiver and debt-relief to farmers, forthcoming monetary payments to the government employees, as per the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, and massive off-budget subsidies related with food, fertilizers and oil to be given by the centre, which is likely to raise GFD/GDP ratio to 7.5% during 2008-09, up by 5 percentage points. This will disturb the fiscal situation of India. Thus, mere liberalization can't be regarded as a panacea for the economic ills of a vast country like India.

    3. With the promotion of the role of private sector in the economic development of India in future under economic reforms, the entire planning policy of the past needs radical change from centrally-controlled planning to indicative-planning, with different parameters and perspectives, which needs to be worked out in more details and in a more transparent manner in future because now private investment will play an active role in the process of economic development of India. Therefore PC's role will become more of a coordinative nature and prescriptive nature (to suggest measures to resolve issues).

 Thus, the two big economies of China and India need new focus and new thrust for the future. Socio-economic transformation, for which an alternative economic model of sustainable growth would be spelt out in this paper and other economies, particularly developing emerging economies would be benefited by these policies and prescriptions.

But prior to that, we would like to present a glimpse of the most disturbing scenario in the world, more particularly in the developing world and in countries like India and its neighbourhood, that needs our prior attention, because without changing that scenario, nothing worthwhile can be accomplished even on the growth front in future. We would also see that the inculcation and incorporation of human, ethical and religious values, based on the systemic and holistic tenets and principles of Jain Philosophy and Thought can save mankind from the impending doom and disaster. As a matter of fact, India has accepted the role of 'Dharma, Artha, Kam and Moksha' in the life of human beings, and 'Dharma' or 'Religion' plays a key role in shaping human life. The essence of 'Dharma' is righteousness in the performance of one's duties. As human beings are running away from 'righteousness', they are facing more and more turbulent, traumatic and troublesome situations in every walk of life.

A cursory glance on the present global situation clearly reveals that terrorism, extremism, separatism, fundamentalism, and fanaticism are giving rise to hatred, violence, murders, and deaths of innocent people in various parts of the world. China may draw an applause of the world for its work-ethos, (as revealed in its high growth rates and also in Olympics recently) and speed and efficiency in building dams and bridges anywhere, but has been sharply criticized, rather condemned in some quarters due to its initiatives in the pursuit of the path of regional expansionism and depleting the resources of other countries by resorting to excess imports of raw materials from them to satisfy its desire of attaining high growth rates and overheating its economy. There are limits to the natural resources of the world for development. Land, minerals, water, wild-life, etc. are limited in the world. Their use should be done very prudently and in a calibrated and calculated manner, so that there is neither their over-exploitation, nor their under-exploitation, but there is proper exploitation with sustainable technology so that regeneration should accompany their exploitation side by side to safeguard the interests of future generations.

The recent uprisings in Jammu and Kashmir valley, particularly in the killings Kandhmal in Orissa, a spate of bomb blasts in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Bangalore, unprecedented disaster due to floods in Bihar as a result of the change of route by the river Kosi, spreading of Maoist challenge and Naxalite attacks along with the operation of domestic Islamist terror-network over the entire length and breadth of our country, and rising levels of infiltration of terrorists from across the border, and more frequent violations of our borders with Pakistan, indicate the dysfunctional and ineffectiveness of our state to firmly deal with these pestering problems. These developments indicate that for the next few years. We should give top-priority to fight out terrorism of every shade, tooth and nail, before we launch any other programme of economic development, for India is a land of vast diversity in terms of culture, language, religion, climate, etc., but its heterodoxy should not be allowed to stand in the way of its fast, inclusive and sustainable development. So far India has made some headway in raising its growth rate in the reform period, and the target for the same in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan Period, 2007-2012 is kept at 9%, reaching a level of 10% in the final year, i.e. 2011-12, of the plan. But we should remember that with all the tall talk about high growth performance of India economy, our rank in Human Development Index in 2005 was very low, i.e., 128 out of 177 countries of the world. (HDR 2007-08, pp 229-232). In 2004 our rank in HDI was 126, thus in 2005 it has shifted to a level of 128 (two shades lower), which is a cause of worry. Therefore, in the next phase of economic growth, we have to improve our rank in HDI, and we have to see how the strategy of sustainable growth can help us in achieving a better rank in future. Our leaders give a rosy picture of high growth rates and are not tired of boasting about 8-9% growth rate achieved in recent years, while daunting problems of poverty, unemployment, inflation and infrastructural shortcomings continue to haunt us in the country.

So far, we have summarized the growth experiences of several countries, and their broad strategies under command economies with emphasis on state control, and now under market economies with greater emphasis on the role of the private enterprise. But with rising terrorism and conflicts in different parts of the world, mankind is facing new threats and various challenges of development and even its survival in future may be jeopardized. In this emerging situation, we are required to find an alternative model of development, which may prove to be more durable and long-lasting for mankind.

In this connection, we shall consider the relevance of 'Sustainable Development' as an alternative model of growth, and see how the fundamental principles and precepts of Jain thinking and ethical behaviour can solidify its sustainability and strength, and finally lead us to a more safer and more secure world.


We have seen earlier that neo-liberal policy of globalization has some shortcomings and moreover, it does not bring gains for everyone. In fact, it gives more benefits to those countries, which restructure their economies internally on more efficient and competitive lines, such as China and several newly industrializing countries. It has been felt that Countries like India have suffered from the so called 'Dutch Disease' by opening their economies under globalization and liberalization. For example, with greater inflow of foreign capital in India, there was an upsurge in our Forex Reserves in the recent past, but it led to exchange rate appreciation of the Indian rupee in terms of dollars, and thereby, hit the exports of our traditional items, like gems and jewellery, textiles, handicrafts, leather products, etc. Thus, there was one benefit, but at the cost of another loss. It was not a win-win situation. Moreover, even advanced and mature industrial economies like USA also suffered from sub-prime mortgage crisis, which created global turbulence in the capital markets around the world. Therefore, there is a renewed search for some durable solution for the ills of developing and developed economies, and in this pursuit the concept of 'Sustainable Development' has caught the imagination and attention of academia, planners and various thinkers in the world.

The World Commission on Environment and Development, popularly known as Brundtland Commission, 1987, (as mentioned earlier also) defined Sustainable Development as 'development that can meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Thus, sustainable development ensures inter-generational equity in development. The present generation is not allowed to meet its needs at the cost of the future generation. It is not a zero-sum game, rather it is a positive-sum game. The interests of both generations are duly taken care of. The U.N. has promulgated a new term for sustainability. The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) or People, Planet,  Profit, which  in  essence,  represents three  aspects  of development, namely, social, environmental and economic. Thus, Sustainable Development represents this trinity, viz; social development, environmental development and economic development. By integrated development on these three fronts, we can ensure peace and prosperity, safety and security of the entire world and achieve balanced development for all the countries. In more simple words, we can say that sustained growth is said to have been achieved when poverty is eradicated (social aspect), when environment is preserved (deforestation is followed by afforestation, exploitation and utilization of natural resources (like land, water, minerals, forests, etc.) is followed by the simultaneous and systematic regeneration and restoration of the same, and finally, when economy goes on profitable lines on the basis of efficiency, competition, modernisation and technological advancement in all sectors of the economy. Thus, sustainability has its competitive contours, but the concept, though simple in appearance, is quite complex in attaining it, because it engulfs the entire gamut of social transformation, environmental preservation and economic change, which though attainable, yet a challenging one.

Now, to proceed towards 'Triple Bottom Line' to attain the goal of sustained growth, we need to adopt three E's, i.e. 'Efficiency' (for profit line), 'Equity' (for people or social sector) and 'Environment' (for planet preservation/conservation). But in the light of the development experience of several countries in the world, we need support from some more E's; such as Entrepreneurship, Employment, Entertainment (Dance, music, painting, laughter etc.) - (a plethora of the same on TV channels these days in India), Empowerment of women and weaker sections of society and Enforcement of the accepted laws and decisions in letter and spirit. When vigorous efforts are made to adopt these E's and implement policies based on them, we are able to have total socio-economic transformation in a country. The necessary detailed roadmap needs to be prepared in this regard for each individual country based on its culture, stage of economic development, polity and aspirations of its people. The entire exercise must be based on serenity and sobriety and high cultural and ethical behaviour.


As sustainable development encompasses not only economic aspect, but also social and environmental aspects, we have to develop a new systemic or holistic approach towards economics to understand the complex human realities. Economists, so far, have adopted a narrow approach, which may be called a 'reductionist approach' to analyse economic issues. In their equations, they include some measurable variables like income, savings, investments, ICOR, etc. and on the basis of some simple assumptions about a particular phenomenon, arrive at some tentative conclusions or results. But they fail to include some 'soft' forces in their analysis, more particularly those related with other sciences such as social and political disciplines and human behaviour. Moreover, some immeasurable forces like ethical and emotional behaviour, social discipline, honesty, humility, charity, compassion, etc. are normally beyond their purview. That's why, their perspectives are narrow in most of the cases. Economists, political scientists, historians, sociologists and those belonging to physical sciences, normally do not talk to each other, in fact, they do not need to talk to each other in the normal course. Religious leaders also concentrate on their preaching and teachings related with their particular faiths, and do not relate them with the day to day socio-economic problems of the people and their solutions. Under these circumstances, they are not able to grapple with the problems in a meaningful sense. Thus, they are far removed from enlightened judgement and realistic solutions of human problems.

A few examples,  are given below to indicate that 'sustainable development' can be attained by fulfilling the following conditions only: 
  1. Fractured and frictional multi-party politics and ever-changing parties in coalition governments can't build a sustainable society, because they don't agree on various developmental policies, as has been our experience in the recent past with the UPA Governance in our country. The process of economic reforms under UPA regime could not make much headway due to disagreements over issues related with labour reforms, policy towards FDI, disinvestment, financial sector reforms related with banking, insurance, pensions etc. among the coalition partners. Therefore, for the success of sustained growth, political consensus is a necessary condition. The agitation by Trinmool Congress in Singur in West Bengal at Tata Nano plant created a problem, which has wider repercussions on the industrialization of West Bengal. SEZ policy needs a thorough revamp in future. Adequate compensation and other financial support should be given to the farmers who are dispossessed of their lands.
  3. At the international level also, there must be full cooperation between the developing and the developed countries over global issues; e.g., WTO's 'Doha Round', which was initiated as a 'Development Round' in 2001, is still in doldrums, and it is still not nearing its completion after 7 years of hectic negotiations. It is going 'Round' and 'Round' so far with no end in sight. It follows the dictum that 'Northing will be agreed, until everything is agreed'. Even the mini-ministerial meet at Geneva in July 2008 failed because developed countries insisted that Special Safeguard Measures or Mechanism (SSMs) should be used by developing countries, when the imports in their countries exceeded the level of 40% over the agreed base period of imports, but developing countries wanted to use them when their imports exceeded 15% over an agreed base period. Thus, the controversy over cap of 140% vs 115% for SSM application and the issue of cotton subsidies to US farmers led to the breakdown of Geneva talks. Under these situations, we find multilateralism failing in its goal of promoting global trade as fast as possible. Sustainability of global trade is in jeopardy under the present situation. There must be a fair deal on the basis of 'give and take' to promote world trade, investments and technology-transfers. Developed countries should extend full assistance and cooperation towards developing countries, particularly towards poor and low-income countries, so that the gaps between them are narrowed down to attain greater economic sustainability in their growth process in future. Less Than Full Reciprocity (LTFR) principle is built into the WTO system.

    There has been a political hijacking of the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal over the controversy that 'India has the right to test nuclear weapons, and US has the right to react and cancel the deal'. The situation is opaque, not fully transparent. It is a pity that such serious issues are left in lurch, when there is need for global cooperation to promote the welfare of the people. NSG of 45 countries should support the cause of India by granting an unconditional waiver to it. In the meeting of 45 countries of NSG, India has got clean waiver and now India's nuclear isolation has ended and it can nuclear trade with the entire world. This is a great historic achievement and will lead India towards sustainable energy development.
  4. At the present stage of globalisation, it is more appropriate to say that instead of progress towards economic globalisation, there has been an assured, terrific and dreadful progress towards the globalisation of terrorism. Practically all the nations of the world are seized with this problem, and they are seeking global solution to fight this menace. But so far the solution is in sight in the near future. There is a glib talk of global cooperation in various fora to fight terrorism, but terrorism and terrorists walk merrily here, there, and everywhere. Sustainable growth wants an end of terrorism from every nook and corner of the earth. There is a need to search for a final onslaught on this menace in the near future.
  6. Apart from man-made calamities, natural calamities like earthquakes, floods, famines, hurricanes, storms, droughts, etc. spread havoc from time to time in different countries, and disaster management has become the need of hour to deal with such unforeseen situations on a massive scale. Lakhs of people suffering from the fury of Kosi and unprecedented flood in Bihar in August-September 2008 call for a total change in the developmental model of the nation. It has proved hollow for them. A new look for a safer world is needed to save people from colossal losses in future.
  7. Thus, we need not only economic sustainability, but also political sustainability, environmental sustainability, energy sustainability and above all technological sustainability.

    Jeffrey D. Sachs has pointed out in his book: on commonwealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, 2008, that human impact on environment is equal to the product of population, per capita income and technology, so that I = PXAXT, where T is the indicator of current technology which is presumed to be unsustainable in its present form. Here I represents impact on environment in a multiplicative form with population, per capita income and current technology as three factors. In case, the current technology (T) is substituted by some simple and sustainable technology (S), the impact on environment will be drastically reduced, and the equation will take a form: I = PXA/S, which indicates a high level of reduction in the level of impact on environment due to (PXA) now being divided by S. Here, the idea is quite simple to understand, and it is this that sustainable or cleaner technology in a particular field will have less unfavourable effect on environment as compared with unsustainable technology, e.g., nuclear fusion or solar energy is less polluting than the thermal power, and it is more environmentally-friendly also.

Link Between Jain Philosophy and Sustainable Development

In the last segment of this paper, we shall analyse the three determinants of development, viz, consumption, production and distribution, and study their present nature, and in case we find them unsustainable, we shall suggest changes to make them sustainable in future and at the same time, indicate how the adoption of Jain tenets and principles in particular can help us in the achievement of the objective of sustainable development.

Consumption Pattern:

Since the second world war, there has been an acceleration in the consumption of the world's resources, particularly of fossil fuels and basic minerals. World population has increased from under 2.5 billion to over 6 billion in this period and this has intensified the demand for the world's resources in all the countries. With more population and with more income in the world, with the passage of time there is bound to be an increase in the consumption levels of the people. By the middle of the twenty-first century, world population may cross the level of about 10 billion. With improved technology, we may be able to maintain the present levels of consumption for some more time, but in case regeneration of resources is not continued at a sufficient level, the problem of resource-exhaustion may come on the surface rather sooner than later. Population control is, of course, a necessary condition for sustained growth in the world.

Moreover, there is a problem of vast consumption disparity between developed and developing countries, for example, people in developed countries are consuming 64% of the meat, almost half (48%) of the cereals, over 80% of the metals, over 86% of the chemicals and 92% of the cars, in terms of per capita consumption, while the percentage of people in the developed countries was about 24% only (Smith and Jalal, ADB, 2000, p. 24). Americans consume 52 times as much meat, have 320 times the number of private vehicles and use 245 times as much copper as average Indians. This sort of unbalanced consumption pattern needs to be changed in the interest of sustainable development and economic efficiency at the global level.

Consumption patterns affect production patterns also. With excess consumption, there is greater use of materials that leads to environmental degradation, depletion of resources like land, water, minerals, forests, etc. and puts heavy fiscal burden in terms of subsidies, which are enjoyed even by the non-poor, and which lead to wastage of limited resources due to their cheaper supplies to the users of fertilizers, power, water, etc.

The third determinant of sustainable development, namely, distribution, is a more complex issue; because it includes inequalities in the distribution of income, in the distribution of assets and, above all, in the distribution of opportunities for growth to various sections of society. Thus, economics of distribution needs a total relook for attaining the goal of sustainability, and it has deeper social, political, administrative and legal dimensions. It is to be noted that in this aspect of economic change, we have to look to the interests of the poorest of the poor also. The gaps between the poor and non-poor in relation to health care, education, credit, insurance, employment, housing, etc. are to be reduced by involving civil society and non-governmental organizations and agencies to the maximum extent. Case studies of substainable development indicate that efforts of Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, have brought tangible and incredibly high results in terms of improving the lot of the poor people in short span of time quite significantly. Probably, the replica of the same in countries like India and other developing economies may help in changing the lot of the disadvantaged sections of society. Moreover, even small steps like rain water harvesting projects, can ameliorate the lot of the people in water scarcity areas tremendously, with less capital outlay and simple technology in states like Rajasthan. Efforts in this field have brought tangible results in some parts of the state in recent years. Such efforts are to be continued more speedily in future with peoples' cooperation.

Turn Towards Jain Thinking for Sustained Growth and Secure Future:

When people are surrounded by turmoil and trouble here, there, and everywhere, they normally seek shelter under the feet of noble saints and sages for their spiritual guidance. As the present day world has not been able to resolve its multifarious issues on the advice of the so-called modern sectarian scholars in various social sciences, the time has come to seek light from supersensuous and omniscient seers like Lord Mahavira, who propounded Jain philosophy of non-violence and peace some 2500 years ago, following which mankind can achieve, real happiness in future. Acharya Mahapragyaji had categorized 'dharma' in three groups, viz; ethics-based, worship-based and spirituality-based. Out of the three categories, he has emphasized the ethics-part for everybody which can give very fruitful results for promoting peace and happiness in society.

The fundamentals of Jain thinking can be briefly summed up as follows:

  1. It is anthropocentric, i.e., human-centric in nature, because humans now dominate natural systems. The scale of human activities is so large that mankind dominates every aspect of ecological processes. Therefore, the emphasis in Jain thinking is on 'Equanimity of mind or temper' without which lasting solutions are not possible for various human problems. In other words it believes in emotional integration and mental change towards cooperation, sacrifice, and sensitivity towards all human beings. One must develop positive attitude rather than negative attitude in life to promote emotional integration in society.

  2. There is emphasis on self-restraint, non-violence, truth and other virtues, which should be followed in actions so that there may be lasting peace in society. If people fall prey to self-indulgence, violence and falsehood in their actions, they will reap only the harvest of conflicts and concords and threats, trials and tribulations in life.

  3. Emphasis should be on 'decentralisation of economic activity' which is labour-absorbing and capital-saving, most suited to highly populated countries like India and China. But other countries can also benefit from the development with small-sized units, provided they are run on efficient lines by adopting modern techniques in all possible ways.

  4. There is an emphasis on 'Environmental Preservation' so that wild-life is protected, forest coverage is duly increased on the land surface and mutual relationship between environment and development is not lost sight of.

  5. It lays emphasis on raising standard of life, rather than on the standard of living, which means that 'simple living alone is regarded as high thinking'. There is more emphasis on 'sharing and caring', rather than on 'possessing and accumulating'. A man is judged not on the basis of the size of material wealth that one possesses, but on the basis of human qualities of character, compassion, simplicity, integrity, discipline, etc.

  6. The present day world emphasizes economic integration between nations to achieve the goal of globalisation, but Jain view of life emphasizes emotional integration as a pre-condition of resolving all human problems. Emotional integration promotes cooperation between people and between nations and promotes lasting brotherhood and deeper understanding everywhere.

It is a pity that in modern times we have started saying that honesty and political survival are incompatible, honesty and economic progress are incompatible, honesty and administrative success are incompatible. If we give this sort of disgraceful role to honesty in human affairs, humanity will face total doom and despair for all times.

Having said that, now we give illustrations related with human behaviour, consumption, production and distribution, which would be affected quite favourably by following the principles of Jainism or Jain View of life.

Illustration No. 1:

For changing human behaviour

At present terrorists and extremists are disturbing peace not only in different corners of India, but in other parts of the world also. For them, the following message of Jain philosophers is very relevant. This was a forceful reply to Alexander, the Great, when he asked a group of Jain philosophers, as to why they were neglecting to pay any attention to him:

"Kind Alexander, every man can possess only so much of the earth's surface as this we are standing on. You are but human like the rest of us, save that you are always busy and up to no good, travelling so many miles from your home, a nuisance to yourself and to others!.... You will soon be dead and you will own just as much of the earth as will suffice to bury you. (Amartya Sen, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, 2005, pg. 54). This message should ring in the ears of terrorists so that they may give up the path of violence at some point of time. Of course, law will take its course at the final end.

Illustration No. 2:

Weaning people away from non-vegetarianism to vegetarianism and weaning them away from drugs, narcotics, liquor, animal products and harmful luxurious products.

Akbar, while arguing with Jains, would remain skeptical with their rituals, and yet became convinced with their argument for vegetarianism and end up deploring the eating of all fresh. (Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian Culture, History and Identity, 2005, p. 289). Even there is a clear economic argument in favour of vegetarian diet. It will increase grain supply for the needy people, because reducing consumption of 1 kg of poultry would release about 3-4 kg of grain which could be shifted to the poor people for consumption. (Pogers, Jalal & Boyd, An Introduction to Sustainable Development, 2008, p. 68). Similarly, the moderation in the consumption of drugs, narcotics, liquor, animal products and harmful luxurious products can promote human welfare and protect wild-life to some extent.

Illustration No. 3:

Decentralized production is more egalitarian and employment-intensive, and promotes human welfare. It reduces the problems created by large scale concentration of economic power, uncontrolled urbanization and rapid migration of people from rural to urban centers. Small production units promote humane behaviour, and, more congenial atmosphere for peace and happiness.

Illustration No. 4:

Aparigraha - 'sharing and caring' approach reduces the intensity of problems generated by economic inequality in society. It is a humanitarian and non-frictional approach in tackling the problem of inequality. But accumulation and savings used for investment in the economy promotes growth in society, because it serves a social cause in a direct manner.

Thus, we find that Jain philosophy, along with similar precepts from other religions, can go a long way towards building a secure and safe world. It may not be a world with luxury-products around us in abundance, but certainly there won't be a dearth of basic goods to meet the basic needs of mankind. The time to make the final choice is here and now, otherwise never or nowhere.


  1. Peter P. Rogers, Kazi F. Jalal and John A. Boyd, An Introduction to Sustainable Development, 2008, Chapters 2, 9 and 14.
  2. Jeffrey D. Sachs, Commonwealth: Economics For a Crowded Planet, 2008.
  3. World Development Report, 2008: Agriculture for Development, The World Bank.
  4. World Development Indicators, 2008, The World Bank.
  5. The Growth Report: Strategies for Sustained Growth and Inclusive Development, 2008, (Chairman: Michael Spence).
  6. Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian Culture, History and Identify, 2005.
  7. Arun Maira, Creating a new economics, article in the Economic Times, 12 November 2007.
  8. CP Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh, Whatever happened to economic growth?, Macroscan, Business Line, August 12, 2008, p. 9.
  9. PP Sangal, India's Climate change action plan, The Economic Times, July 27, 2008.
  10. Acharya Mahapragya, Economics of Mahavir, (Hindi edition), First edition, 1994, also revised editions thereafter.
  11. Acharya Mahapragya, Sambodhi - enlightened knowledge, faith and conduct, translated into English by Dr. R.P. Bhatnagar, First English edition, 2000, Introduction Chapters 14 and 15.
  12. Robert J. Samuelson, Great Growth of China: But what lies beneath?, The Economic Times, 26 August, 2008.
  13. A.V. Rajwade, The global powershift, Business Standard, 25 August 208.
  14. Acharya Mahapragya, Economics of non-violence & peace, The Economic Times, 8 August 2008, as told to Lalit Garg
15 Acharya Mahapragya
16 Acharya Mahapragya


Share this page on:
Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Mahapragya
  3. Acharya Mahapragyaji
  4. Ahmedabad
  5. Akbar
  6. Aparigraha
  7. Artha
  8. Bangalore
  9. Bihar
  10. Business Standard
  11. Concentration
  12. Cooperation
  13. Discipline
  14. Economics Of Non-Violence
  15. Enlightened Knowledge
  16. Environment
  17. Fear
  18. Globalisation
  19. Globalization
  20. ICENS
  21. International Dialogue on Economics of Non-violence
  22. Jain Philosophy
  23. Jain View Of Life
  24. Jainism
  25. Jaipur
  26. Kam
  27. Lalit Garg
  28. Mahapragya
  29. Mahavir
  30. Mahavira
  31. Non-violence
  32. Omniscient
  33. Orissa
  34. R.P. Bhatnagar
  35. Rajasthan
  36. Sambodhi
  37. Singur
  38. Sustainability
  39. Sustainable Development
  40. The Economic Times
  41. Vegetarianism
  42. Violence
  43. West Bengal
Page statistics
This page has been viewed 3656 times.
© 1997-2021 HereNow4U, Version 4.06
Contact us
Social Networking

HN4U Deutsche Version
Today's Counter: