Swami Vivekananda and India`s Economic Development

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By Dr. S. Kulachandra Singh

Swami Vivekananda was a witness to the sufferings of the people. He interacted with them and the different sections of the society directly during his days as an inherent monk in different parts of the country. Later during his visits abroad he learnt about the economic and social systems of the other countries in detail. His unique experience of moving with diverse groups of people across the country and outside, and his keen intellect provided him an opportunity to develop original ideas on different issues con¬cerned with the lives of people, including economics.

Swamiji`s ideas relating to economics places him as a true visionary. His thought for the economic system at the Indian and global levels were far ahead of his times. The two prominent economists- Dadabhai Naoroji and Romesh Chandra Dutta were conducting details studies and producing evidence to show as to how the India`s economy was being decimated by the British i.e. they calculated the national income of British India during 1867-68 was only 3.4 billion rupees for a population of 170 million, with the per capita income being just 20 reupees. Besides they noted that huge wealth was being taken out of the country to England. Dadabhai declared in 1905 that about “34 million sterlling or Rs 515 million were being drained out of India every year. Justice Ranade was the other notable personality who presented the economic   issues before the people.”

While the economists and freedom fighters wanted the British to stop their exploitation, Swamiji want many steps ahead and argued for economic policies along the national lines for the development of the country. Swami Vivekananda said: “My ideal is growth, expansion, and development on national lines” Swamiji was perhaps the first leading personality to speak along such decades before independence.

During the eighteenth century after the ascendance of the west in the international scenario they saw to it that their ideas got prominence over the others. The concept and practice of the ancient economics such as India and China were neglected. For this purpose, Europe developed its own set of histotirians and wrote a new history for the world. As a result, the concepts and practices that sustained, the Indian economy as well as that of China and others as well, for centuries as the most prosperous nation since the earlier periods lost their significance.

Hence for around two hundred years since the nineteenth century, the world was taught to believe that there were only two economic ideologies, namely communism and capitalism. Both of them are products of the west, conceived and developed in their part of the world based on their own view and approached towards life. So the rest of the world had to sail with their ideas, concepts and practices, as the west was dominating the world.

But all of these have changed in a period of just two decades. The communist ideology collapsed during the late 1980s with the breaking up of the Soviet Union into several pieces. The global economic crisis during 2008 showed that market capitalism, the other economic philosophy of the west, has also failed.

Hence it is now being realised that there could be different methods for economic development. Even the multilateral agencies openly acknowledge this as a fact. So the attention is shifting towards exploring alternate economic thoughts and system. In this connection, the Indian concepts, ideas and system are gaining prominence.

India i.e Bharat is one nation that remained as a sustainable economic power since the ancient periods, till the time the Europeans began to dominate her. It is the same nation that has been emerging as a powerfull economy after independence, in spite of wrong approaches of the policy makers continuously for over six decades. Besides, India remains as one of the very few countries least affected by the global crisis.

The United State and many of the European economics are unable to find out the solutions to the problems face by them even after five years of the melt down. Hence the rest of the world has started questioning them. Earlier before the meeting of the world Economic Forum during 2013, the Telegraph reported that the developing countries were bracing to tell the western leaders that their economic model has failed.

Different studies, including the few conducted by the top international agencies and institutions, clearly indicates that India has her own methods of functioning aided by the strong fundamentals and unique social and cultural backgrounds. So, even the western experts and practitioners have now begun to speak of the Indian ideas and approaches.

Swami Vivekananda underlined even while India was under the British rule that India need to develop her own system for the development of the economy. He wanted India to progress based on our own strength and methods without imitating and depend¬ing on other countries. As a pioneering thinker, he advocated an Indian economic method for our country, as he must have had a clear understanding of the economic fundamentals of India and the western world. That was long before the world witnessed failure of the western models and the emergence of India at the global level after independence.

Sarup Prasad Ghosh notes: “The uniqueness of the Vivekananda doctrine lies in the fact that whatever remedies it suggests for India`s economic, political and spiritual regeneration derives from Swamiji`s practical experience of life. He used to meet the common Indians directly whenever he went to different places. This made him confident that India has to develop an economic model for herself which will take the peculiarities of her social life into consideration.”

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