Varnashram Dharma: a viable economic model for India; where did we go wrong

Varnashram Dharma: a viable economic model for India; where did we go wrong
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    Varnashram Dharma: a viable economic model for India; where did we go wrong?   Nidhi Shukla Department of Human Resource Management, XISS, Camille Bulcke Path, Purulia Road, Post Box no- 7 Ranchi- 834001 Jharkhand, India  1.Abstract Globalization, with its inherent need to be fed by Capitalism renders the Earth and her resources getting exhausted at such speed that the hapless survivors become pawns in the race for consumerism. This puts India in a situation where she finds herself mired in a vicious circle which leaves very little room for actually putting into place all that research in this field suggests. For developing an environment friendly, ecologically viable and globalized economy for her, it become imperative for her to explore the possibilities of sustainability by rediscovering what exists of what was and what can be developed there from. Viability is inherent in that which can sustain itself. Economic viability can become a reality if the market, the economy and the individual work in tandem. Each person is best at doing a particular job in an optimal way and its outcome gives him both intrinsic and extrinsic reward. Occupations common to all mankind can be put into four broad categories which actually work towards the strengthening of the economy. Varnas are four to mark four universal occupations,-imparting knowledge, defending the defence less, carrying on agriculture and commerce, and performing service through  physical labour. Each Varna performs to fulfil a mission. With this comes the understanding that one is doing what one is best at. It also brings with it the acceptance that what one is not doing is what one is not best at. Each Varna is dependent on the others for getting things done, by those who are better at it and therefore must  be given a dignified status. Varnashram Dharma proposes to find answers through channelization of reservation  policy, inclusivity for the feminist economist and a self actualized corporate human resource. Keywords : occupations , categories, mission, globalization, environment, viability, sustainability, inclusivity, feminist economist, self actualized ****************************** 2.   INTRODUCTION We live in an age when farm and ecology both mean the same as a factory. The market driven world has money as its pivotal force. True globalization is meant to aim at a mature cultural understanding among peoples of the Earth. This Earth is meant to maintain a balance amongst and within all forms of existence; the living, the non-living, and the dead. Civilizations were allowed to be born because they were meant to sustain. Consumer society trades away values like compassion, integrity, frugality, simplicity, responsibility, equity and loyalty. Every cell was created because creation was to thrive in a set of conditions. This set of conditions formed the environment, the ecology, and the very means of existence that were the basic requirements fulfilled by natural drives that trained the players and eventually enabled evolution and change. Change became an inherent necessity which did not allow things once created to stop from evolving. When change is a natural outcome, it is contextual, accepted and imbibed with least resistance but when it has a prospective effect and has to ride on forced speed, we are neither able to control the factors of change nor its outcome. Change management is all  about adjusting. This adjustment too has to have a balanced pace. Any change that tends to overtake its context  becomes unmanageable. India, a typically agro-economic country would have a worse fate if in her ignorance of the self, she chooses to go western with unabated pace. This is what seems to have happened with globalization as a world concept and liberalization as a regional context. The question is how feasible slowing down would contextually be for the India of present times. We need to slowly break from the shackles of the western view of our production and manufacturing possibilities and gain some ground on our traditional socio-economic structure in order to have a sustainable, self sufficient and independent economic structure. Varnadhram Dharma has practically feasible solutions by enabling a deconstruction of the variables and parameters of development and economic growth. Its total dependence on nature makes it possible for the economy to be run in synchronization with the context without having to ape the west and having an illusory world view of developmental economy. 3.   The Vicious Circle   Human societies have shown a spiral development pattern which is very similar to the spiral pattern that species' life cycles follow. Nathan Davis in his  book „The Next Stage‟  Society after Capitalism, presents patterns that show societies to develop in an upward spiral through a series of stages. The previous stages according to him have been Primitive, Slavery and Land-duty. Primitive society ran from about 100,000 BC to 3,500 BC. Slavery dominated from about 3,500 BC to 400AD. Land-duty was the main type of society from about 400 to 1600. Capitalist societies first emerged in the 1600s. Primitive society was classless. Class societies emerged with Slavery to drive productivity improvements.   Primitive societies include hunter-gatherer tribes and early farming societies when produce was shared throughout the community. Class society began with Slavery when the wealthy lived off the labour of slaves. Land-duty is those societies based on land owners allowing use of their land in return for a duty to them. Capitalism is large-scale industrial society based on capital. It ‟ s only when cultures and existing structures intermingle and compete with each other that any system falls under scrutiny of comparable models. Globalization in itself does not bring with it unsuitable structures but it surely brings about comparison. Speaking in terms economic development in India, we evolved in a pattern till the Mughal invasion. What we can‟t ignore is the contextual existence of people, philosophy and politics. People comprise the human resource, Philosophy gives them direction and politics brings about facilitation.. Class exists in all socio- economic alignments of control. A class is a group of people earning their living in the same way. They play a similar role in production and are rewarded economically in a similar manner. Members of a class have shared economic interests. The two major classes are always in a win/lose situation. One's economic gain is always the other's economic loss. So, there is an inherent conflict of economic interest between these main classes. The main classes are dependant opposites. One class owns production resources and lives off the other class's labour. Without the labouring class, the owning class would have no one to provide for them. And the labouring class cannot produce without the owning class's protection. The division of society into Varnas actually rules out this class conflict because ownership too becomes a part of the duty and responsibility of the Vaishya Varna in order to provide for the whole of the needs of the society. It is a self generating economy. It does not get mired in an interplay of variables which makes it difficult for developing economies to  break free from centrifugal force that pulls all factors and features toward the centre- that‟s wealth. Varnashram Dharma proposed a linear growth where the dangers of being trapped are discretionary. 4. THE VARNASHRAM DHARMA Whether we talk of Industry, the society, the economy or business we need categories of human resource to run the Industry, to make a society progressive, to sustain the economy and to maximize profits in business. We need researchers, we need intellectuals who put knowledge to practice, we need administrators and defence  personnelfor the smooth running of the system, and we need people who can toil hard to enable each of them to  perform. Varnashram Dharma speaks of categories of people designed by nature, hereditary, socio-cultural conditioning and training to contribute optimally towards the economic growth that is by design steady and fair. Each individual contributes according to his temperament, expertise and interest. Compartmentalization is of the kind that binds through responsibility and duty, it does not separate or divide. Brahmin, intellectually suited to  acquire and impart knowledge is the knowledge bank for the society as a whole. In order to so acquire knowledge that is complete and perfect, a person needs to have a lifestyle that facilitates spiritual attainment through deep concentration. The Kshatriya is a person naturally suited for intellectual activity and protection. He too requires the right kind of training and lifestyle. The Vaishya is suited for business. Within his parameters of rights and responsibilities the Vaishya channelizes gains from business for sustaining production and distribution. The Shudra being incapable of contributing through knowledge , intellect or acumen is still accepted as being capable of contributing through physical activity. The system necessitates cooperation without encouraging one-upmanship of one over the other. Further, the system spoke of Ashramas or stages in one ‟ s life. The first stage is that of celibacy, or Brahmacharya where the student acquires knowledge with singular devotion. The Grihastha Ashram is for fulfilling worldly duties through marriage, child-bearing and optimal con tribution in one‟s field of activity. The Vanyaprastha is stage of practising renunciation to culminate in Sannyasa when the practitioner becomes a natural. While going through all these stages an individual exercises self control in the sense that he is aware that life is not meant to be wasted through self gratification. 5. WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?  Dr. BR Ambedkar said, the Vedi varna and caste are two very different concepts. Varna is based on the  principle of each according to his worth, while caste is based on the principle of each according to his birth. The two are as distinct as chalk from cheese. When Srila Prabhupada indicates that it is a mission of the Hare Krishna movement to establish varnashrama, he clearly does not mean the spontaneous varnashrama. He said Varnas were already existing all over the world. He also does not mean the materialistic varnashrama of social  prestige. Prabhupada emphasizes that varna designations should be determined by character, training, and work, not by birth. Srila Prabhupada indicates that rather than society‟s using birth as the criteria, a devotee‟s teachers and guru can help determine the varna best suited for his specific nature and guide him to appropriate training for that varna. 5.1 The History, the transition from Varna to Caste India has evolved from a civilization which had the twin cities of Harappa and Mohenjadaro The people who lived in these cities were the srcinal Negritos (Naga), Dravidians the highly intelligent but smaller and dark  brown descendant of Mediterranean srcin.   Around 1500 BC,the Sanskrit speaking people the Aryans travelled towards the Indus valley   The Aryans with their superior physique and their horse driven chariot established unquestionable superiority over the Dravidian and tribal population of the Indus valley.   The word used to describe this clas sification is „Varna‟  Sanskrit for colour. In effect this was a system of colour based differentiation. With time however a few realignments took place. Brahmins therefore became the powerhouse of knowledge especially in the fields of medicine and astrology .. The law of Manu gave the religious sanction to this discrimination. By the time the Manusmriti (A.D.700) reached its final literary form with its strict social and religious discipline to govern the graded Indian society, the religion of Prophet Mohammad also came into existence in the Arab world. The Arab s first conquest of Sindh was in A.D.712, but only in A.D.1206 the slave Dynasty established its rule in Delhi. The Muslim invaders continued to come and go with their leaders like Sultan Muhammad of Ghazni and Mohammad Ghori. After the slave dynasty, India was ruled by different Muslim rulers and dynasties, such as Khiljis, Sayyids, Suris and Moghuls till the death of the last Mughal king Bhahadur shah in 1862   Though the caste has made its permanent place in India, its srcin could be traced to the Portuguese word.- “casta” which means “breed, race, kind or a complex of hereditary qualities”It is derived from the Latin word meaning "chaste" or "pure." The Portuguese u sed the term “ Caste” first to denote the divisions in the Indian society. It is believed that the word “caste” was for the first time used by “Garcia be Orta” in 1563.  The transi tion from Varna to „caste‟ resulted from the interpretation of power in terms of the ownership of  production as much in the Indian society as in any other  but power was meant to be understood in terms of one‟s socio-economic role. Chanakya wrote in Arthashashtra- ॥    “the power of Brahmins is their knowledge, the power of kings is their armies, the power of traders is their money and the power of workers is th eir service.”  If we keep the modern understanding of castes apart, and go  just by professions, how relevant this shloka is, even in today‟s perspective! The Varna system was set to define the primary occupation of the people living in India. They were developed to logically divide work among  people. The greatest emperor of India, Chandragupta Mourya, whom Chanakya himself brought into power was a born Shudra . We didn‟t go wrong anywhere. It was actually the interpretation of the „Varna‟ to mean „caste‟, t hat mutilated the concept and was presented it to us in a model that fitted into Nathan‟s description of Spiral upward growth where the whole social structure moved first from primitive to slavery, from slavery to land-duty and from land- duty to capitalism. Varnashram too has followed a similar pattern through ages. 6. THE MODEL Swami Vivekananda defended it and said: “ Though our castes and our  institutions are apparently linked with our religion, they are not so. These institutions have been necessary to protect us as a nation, and when this necessity for self-preservation will no more exist, they will die a natural death. In religion there is no caste. A man from the highest caste and a man from the lowest may become a monk in India and the two castes become equal. The caste system is opposed to the religion of Vedanta. The world has and will have people with different capabilities, aptitudes and thinking abilities. We find differences everywhere. Five individuals will have five different intelligence, emotional levels, aptitude and abilities to contribute to the society and different levels of abilities and means to express them. The Multiple Intelligences theory propounded by If there was a system to identify the most basic and common traits of humans, we can come to the age-old conclusion that some of us are better equipped for knowledge-related work, some of us are for intellectual and protective war, some are for entrepreneurship and some are for service. Simply speaking, this was the idea rooted in the Vedic Varnashram system. While accepting the differences the model proposes equitable distribution of reward .This outcome of the system of reward also needs to be understood in terms of what could be called an intrinsic reward and what could be called extrinsic reward for a  particular varna. It would still have different monetary implications for the different Varna , though they would  be viewed as equitable. 7. CONCLUSION   India needs to revert to an agro economic model with Varnashram Dharma supporting its structure . India is meant to excel in technical expertise, rather than depend on borrowed technology. We already have a fertile base on which to build a sound self sufficient employment generating model which should not be ignored longer than it already has been ignored This could actually be a very successful experiment. Everyone can beclassified in terms of his work and qualification and not by birth. Then again there are four orders of life, namely the student life, the householder‟s life, the retired life, and the de votional life. In the best interest of human society there must be such divisions of life; otherwise no social institution can grow in a healthy state. The reservation policy too could have a sound base. Once it is settled that certain people are most suitable for certain jobs, we might as well reserve those positions for them. Gender issues too could be addressed through the system by working a reservation policy that could actually work towards a balanced inclusion. Women are  better suited for certain jobs and unsuitable for certain other. The economy could well be brought back on track and society could well be managed in a more balanced way. 8. REFERENCES J. Khobragade, Origin and concept of caste and role of caste in current social practices in India,  N Davis, The Next Stage Society after Capitalism, 2003, www-after S. Roy, Castism according to Chanakya, 2011   
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