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Importance of Wealth in our Indian Culture

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Introduction

One of the main reasons to look westward for answers of financial questions is the fallacious assumption that ‘because Indian culture is centered around spirituality and Dharma, thus it is indifferent towards the problems of the material life’. This misconception is the result of a vitiated propaganda and a misunderstanding of spirituality. This needs to be put in perspective.

History: Philosophical Speculations vs Facts

It’s a fact that much of our perceptions about ourselves today comes from the western thinkers and historians. From Max Muller and Karl Marx to the likes of Michael Witzel and Wendy Doniger, we have let our identities to be defined by the western historians. If we trace back the roots of ‘Western Indology’ our own self-perception was largely created by scholars who actually never visited India, who never dealt with Indians and who never read any Indian literature. Take two scholars, for instance, Karl Marx and Max Weber.

In the year 1853, before he wrote the Das capital, Karl Marx wrote a couple of articles which showed his understanding about India. He said that economically if you look at the country, every village is an economic unit, a tariff unit, and it doesn’t import or export anything. It produces and consumes making the producer the consumer as well and there is no economic inequality because no one has any power over others. This was called the primitive socialism in the communist terminology.

But Marx said there was something very wrong with this society- they worshiped monkeys and cows. He considered man as ‘the sovereign of nature’, and accuses Hindus of degrading that man by ‘worship of nature’. Thus, such a backward society can never progress and carry out a revolution which is necessary for the advancement of human race.

It is necessary to destroy the social base and even though it is a painful destruction, it is a pleasurable destruction as well. This is what Karl Marx said. He never came to India, never read any Indian literature, never met any Indian but he wrote about India. And Marx became one of the most powerful thinkers influencing the Indian intellectual establishment. And our academics are still under the grip of these powerful thoughts.

Another person, Max Weber, a German philosopher is less known but he was a more powerful social thinker. In 1925, Max Weber wrote a book on Hinduism and Buddhism. He said that two societies can never come up- China and India because they believe in Karma and rebirth, which is anti-enterprise, anti-entrepreneurial development, and so these two nations can never develop.

We defined ourselves through Karl Marx, through Max Weber, and then came Professor Raj Krishna. He was asked, “why India is growing so slowly?” He said it is the ‘Hindu rate of growth’. That was 1978.

But a remarkable u-turn took place in the 1970s, when Japan began rising as an economic power. The west was surprised, because economic development, economic progress is supposed to be the preserve of the west. How could Japan, a Buddhist country from Asia, develop?

And so, one Paul Bairoch, a Belgian economist, made a thorough study of the economic development of different nations from 1750 to 1980. He came out with a surprising finding that, in 1750 if you draw a statistical chart of the world, it would look like this: China was the top country in 1750 with nearly 33 percent of world’s GDP and India was second with 24.5 percent of world’s GDP. UK had 1.8 percent of world’s GDP and USA had 0.1 percent of world’s GDP.

He said that these were the structures of the world economy in the 1750s. And India went down from 24.5 percent of the world’s GDP in 1750 to 20 in 1800, 17 in 1830, 8 in 1880, and finally 1.7 in 1900.

In just 150 years, the Indian economy, the Indian polity, the Indian society, Indian civilization crashed. And the same thing happened to China. From 33 percent in 1750, China became 6 percent in 1900. And in the same period, the UK and the USA, which had just about 2 percent between them in 1750, their share went up to 41 percent in 1900.

This information completely transformed our understanding. Paradigm was shifted. Colonialism of 150 years transferred the power, economic , political and cultural power from Asia to the west.

When Paul Bairoch came up with this theory, the west was stunned. To be fully assured the OECD assigned Angus Maddison, the great economic historian to test and verify whether Paul Bairoch’s research was correct or not. OECD is a group of the 26 richest countries in the world and their statistics are very much relied upon.All the 26 countries funded Angus Maddison and he was given a fleet of research scholars to work with. Angus Maddison started his work like this –

If Bairoch is right, then much of the backwardness of the third world, that is Asia, presumably has to be explained by colonial exploitation and much less of Europe’s advantage can be due to scientific precocity, continued slow accumulation of wealth and organizational, financial superiority. You cannot say it happened, our growth happened because of this, it has to be with colonial exploitation.


This is how Angus Maddison started the work and said that Paul Bairoch cannot be correct. Angus Maddison came out with the final conclusion in the year 2001 , and until June 2010, Angus Maddison kept on publishing his researches. He drew a 2000 year economic history of the world starting from the first year of the common era. He said if you look at the economic statistics in the year one of the Common Era, India tops the world with 34 percent of world’s GDP, China next.

In the year 1000, if you draw the economic statistics, India leads with 28 percent. In the year 1400, India again leads, in the year 1500, India again leads, in the year 1600, China overtakes India, in the year 1700, India overtakes China.

Angus Maddison came to the conclusion that Indian economic crash occurred essentially and wholly because of colonial exploitation. The OECD, forum of 26 wealthiest nations, has declared this as the most authentic economic history of the world.

From the factual evidence, we will move on to what the Hindu scriptures actually say, in the next part.

 

Source: http://swarajyamag.com/

Next Story

Is The observance of Valentine’s day a Commination For The Indian Culture?

India has always been at the centre for world cultures, religions and traditions but we now see a visible decline in the indigenous culture due to this marketing campaign of western festivals and culture

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Exchanging gifts on Valentine's day has created this materialistic view of love on this day. Wikimedia Commons
Exchanging gifts on Valentine's day has created this materialistic view of love on this day. Wikimedia Commons
  • Valentine’s Day is said to be a day for expressing affection for your loved ones
  • Many people can be seen looking out for unique Valentine Day ideas to please their partner
  • Valentine Day is marked to honour the martyrdom or honouring of Saint Valentine who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius-II

One can spot excited lovebirds everywhere as the week of love starts. Shops like Hallmarks and Archie’s are brooding with love tokens. The essence of ‘love is in the air’ can be felt very easily. The Valentine’s Day is said to be a day for expressing affection for your loved ones. The day falls each year on 14th February and holds a great significance for the people worldwide. Things like cupid hearts, roses, chocolates, and red heart-shaped balloons can be seen in every florist and gift shop. Many people can be seen looking out for unique Valentine Day ideas to please their partner.

In India, along with all these romantic accessories and lovebirds, an uproar by political parties is also created every year. The party people go to different restaurants and places where the day is supposed to celebrate to wipe out Valentine’s Day decorations. These political parties also demand that this day this day not be celebrated, as it is not a part of Indian culture. Like every year, this time also the RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) and Hindu Mahasabha with the plan to ruin all that the lovebirds might have planned ahead. The couples which are been held on by such ‘social moral-police’ forcibly marrying them by accusing of expressing love in public or even on social networking sites. To counter the aggression of such groups, Chhattisgarh made it official that 14th February will now be celebrated as ‘parents worship day.’ Such is the plight of democracy in our country.

 

Also Read: 20 best valentine’s day gift ideas for him & her

Valentine’s Day History

Majority of people in India do not even know about Valentine’s Day origin and what exactly does it stand for. If we see historically then Valentine’s Day has really got nothing to do with individual love. It is marked to honour the martyrdom or honouring of Saint Valentine who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius-II. Therefore, 14th February is also known as the St. Valentine’s Day. There are many other stories associated with it but in the end, the day is associated with the tradition of courtly love which was an act of chivalry of Knights for their ladies.

Valentine Day is marked to honour the martyrdom or honouring of Saint Valentine who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius-II. Wikimedia Commons
Valentine Day is marked to honour the martyrdom or honouring of Saint Valentine who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius-II. Wikimedia Commons

Valentine’s Day Meaning

The Valentine day is well accompanied by Chocolate day, Hug day, Rose day, Slap day, Kick day, Breakup day etc. etc. So, now the lovers celebrate a Valentine week. If we see in the Indian context then it holds no sense of celebrating a day that too when its history has nothing to do with our society. It is understood if Indians who are Christians are celebrating it as it can be considered their festival.

The question arises, what is so wrong with celebrating Valentine’s day or expressing love in public?

If we look at the general celebration of any festival in India then, almost all the Indian festivals are celebrated in a very traditional manner and none is complete if done without worshipping God. Such festivals involve family but not just couples. Like Diwali is celebrated in a very convenient way in India. We pay obeisance to God, greet our friends and families, light diyas and burst cracker. But some people on the other hand drink and gamble on this auspicious day. Is it allowed by Indian culture?

India has always been at the centre for world cultures, religions and traditions but we now see a visible decline in the indigenous culture due to this marketing campaign of western festivals and culture. Such practices make people think it is trendy to celebrate them. One has to celebrate Valentine Day because the event has been marketed in such a way that it looks special and cool for the young generation.

Also Read: Modern methods, ‘print your love’: Valentines day

Complications Involved

Basically, what matter’s is the way in which festivals are celebrated rather than their name and origin? The day in India is more likely driven by fashion and less by emotions.

Like many other cultures and festivals, Indian culture might absorb Valentine’s Day. Fundamentally, celebrating love is not harmful in itself but forgetting what love stands for and trampling the local culture and traditions as it does not resonate with the definition of globalization is certainly harmful.

The Valentine day is marked in such a way that youngsters are made to believe that they have to shower their partner with expensive gifts to keep the relationship going even when they are just students and the gift would come from their pocket money savings.

Indian festivals like Karwachauth and Rakshabandhan are being considered as a part of "patriarchy and oppression" by the western world. Wikimedia Commons
Indian festivals like Karwachauth and Rakshabandhan are being considered as a part of “patriarchy and oppression” by the western world. Wikimedia Commons

Moreover, why should there be just one special day to express your love for your loved one? This should be expressed on daily basis for relationships to go with bliss. Exchanging gifts on Valentine’s day has created this materialistic view of love on this day. Some people have started expecting benefits from this extraordinary show of love on a single day. It is extremely absurd when people start comparing how their previous date was so much better with the gifts they have received. The very idea of judging the love and affection on a materialistic platform has become a menace to the society.

The problem in India is that the society is undergoing a transformation and there are many bad elements in the society that take full advantage of such days. For some, love means only physical pleasure and nothing more than this. If this notion holds true then it is true that not only Valentine but any such festival is against Indian culture. Nothing seems wrong with celebrating Valentine ’s Day if the day is celebrated with good and spirit of the festival and we spend time with our loved ones.

Also Read: Origins of Valentine’s Day: rooted in violence and blood

On the other hand, Indian festivals like Karwachauth and Rakshabandhan are being considered as a part of “patriarchy and oppression” by the western world which has been a part and parcel of India for generations.

If someone celebrates Valentine day to realize that they are a global citizen then the aura of subconsciousness is really gone wrong. In some cases, the conversion to other religion is also seen at the behest of such festivals.

Conclusion

Emotions like love have a very deep meaning in India and most Indians try for a lasting relation who will lead to marriage and a stable life. Thus celebrating a day where you express your love for your better half is never a big deal. There are the different set of arguments for either liking or disliking this day but that doesn’t mean it gives the right to extremists to forcibly marry off couples seen expressing love in public or social networking sites. However, we should be wary of unwanted practices just for the sake of attention and let things that ruin our culture happen. But at the same time, we should also not start moral policing at everything around.

Nothing seems wrong with celebrating Valentine ’s Day if the day is celebrated with good and spirit of the festival and we spend time with our loved ones. Wikimedia Commons
Nothing seems wrong with celebrating Valentine ’s Day if the day is celebrated with good and spirit of the festival and we spend time with our loved ones. Wikimedia Commons

There are many other foreign festivals that are now celebrated in India such as New year, Halloween, St. Patrick’s day, Mother’s days, Father’s day and so on though with less vigour. It is a common conception that foreign festivals attract more people as the way of celebrating these is just like a party and it is very attractive.

Valentine Day has become an occasion of global celebrations due to various reasons. Even the cultures and communities like India that have otherwise no links to Valentine Day have also adopted it. India has a glorious tradition, a leader in spirituality and diverse culture. Now a day, celebrating Valentine Day is considered a marker of modernity. It’s up to an individual how he/she takes the spirit of love and adhere to the very idea of compassion.