If we look around anywhere in India, images of poverty hit us glaringly. So, what we read in the books tallies with what we see in reality, further substantiating the perception, that India is a poor country.
Yet our elders and traditional legends constantly speak of a Golden era in India’s ancient past. The various large, ornate ancient temples and monuments in India, are testaments of a different period filled with sophisticated workmanship, tastes and wealth.
The Vedic literature does not speak from the perspective of a poverty ridden society. The examples in the Vedic literature clearly indicate an advanced state of agriculture, metallurgy, trade, welfare and defence.
When we take the effort to look back at our past, the wholistic history of India, we discover that India had abundant all round wealth for the last few thousand years. Infact, we have recurring recordings of the people who have lived in India and visitors as well to India, who have repeatedly spoken of India as a very prosperous land that knew no poverty. India, from these descriptions, seems to have been one of the richest lands of the world.
If that was the reality, then how did India come to become a nation stricken with poverty? How did India get classified as a 3rd world country?
Property, Plunder, Poverty
Prosperity and poverty lie at two ends of the spectrum of material wealth.
In many, this chase for prosperity manifests itself as a normal, moderated desire, accepting what comes to them, as a reward. In some others, it manifests itself as a greed for money and power, leading to Plunder. Plunder and poverty are just 2 sides of the same coin. Plunder leads to poverty.
Gandhiji had once said,
“there is enough for man’s needs but not enough for his greed”.
Greed for money and power has always led to plunder, leading to poverty.
The thirst for prosperity and the malice of poverty are not limited to India alone. The malignancy of poverty is deep rooted in well over 100 countries of this world – the under developed, developing as well as developed nations. This makes the need for the ways to prosperity, as well as means to safeguard it, more immediate.
Thus Poverty Eradication Day was instituted by the United Nations, and is observed every year on October 17th, to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty.
India has been plundered many times over in the last 1000 years.
Three Waves of Plunder
The plunders of India, can be slotted into 3 waves of looting:
- Near West Onslaughts – The onslaughts from the Near West such as that of Mohamad of Ghauri, Mohamad of Ghazni, around 1000 CE and that by Nadir Shah around 1700 CE.
- The Colonial Plunder – The drain of Indian wealth, primarily by the East India Company of the British between 1600 CE to 1947 CE.
- The Home-Grown Plunder – The looting of Indian money by Indians themselves from 1950 CE till date.
At the time of Independence, we had about 50 % of population living in poor conditions. 65 years later, when we look around the land we still see half the population living in appalling conditions. While the government statistics show a picture of progress, the fact is that appalling poverty is still apparent after 65 years of poverty alleviation programs. One of the reasons is a wave of plunder, that has been prominent since independence.
Poverty in India
In recent times, rumours have gained in strength and this issue of illegal monies has been exposed as a genuine problem not only of India but as a global cancer. In the case of India, this draining of the monies comes at the cost of depriving the nation of vitally needed development and progress and thereby furthering poverty.
For long, black money has been a part of a wave of plunder this country has seen, since independence.
The scams that have occurred have kept India a poor nation which manifests in the poverty and the slums that we have.
This third wave of plunder can however be quantified, identified, repatriated and specifically channelized for the rejuvenation of the country as a whole, which we have discussed in detail in our book You Turn India.
Prosperity Generation Model
The other means of poverty eradication lies in prosperity generation. Instead of talking about poverty alleviation, if we focus on prosperity generation, then the shift from poverty to prosperity can happen in present day India too.
While at the policy level, this needs to be the mantra, at implementation level, the tantra should be to move away from the centralized system of governance that was imposed by the British on India.
Centralization in India was imposed by the British as the intent of British administrators was to collect taxes. Which is why even today, we have the chief administrator of a district being called “a collector” – a colonial hangover.
This land was prosperous historically, because of a decentralized system of administration where every village panchayat was responsible for its prosperity. Kings and Kingdoms came and went but prosperity continued village after village across the land through the ages.
This was because the ethos of the land was driven towards prosperity generation through a decentralized system of self-governance. This made this civilization as a whole, an economic giant. It is time now to revert back to this time tested model that has given prosperity to this land. This will automatically eradicate poverty.
U Turn India
India has come down from prosperity in the past, to times of plunder, poverty and a parched land today. At the same time in recent years, India is being touted to be the next economic power house to be. All of a sudden, India is a very exciting place to be in. It is time to save India’s resources and put India back on the road to sustainable prosperity, to see her emerge as a world leader. It is time for a U Turn.
More on prosperity generation and poverty eradication in our book You Turn India.