By Sahil Sood:
Seeking to make India a global manufacturing hub, our honorable Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi, on 25th September launched his dream project -Â “Make in India” campaign, amidst a cheering auditorium packed with hundreds of diplomats, industrialists, and important dignitaries from all over the country. A great lion carved out of cogwheels has been chosen to symbolize the transition from a seemingly dormant economy to a thriving, full-blooded land of great economic opportunity. The move, despite being applauded as freedom from bureaucratic red tapism and unnecessary barriers, and opening of new doors to harness the latent potential of India’s increasing manpower, has engendered numerous criticisms among a section of society that fears the new code of capitalism will widen social inequalities and benefit only the privileged section. More money, they fear, shall only breed disparity, and erode the moral code of the society.
‘Money vs. Values’ has always been a commonplace at the discussion table. Money, since its inception has always baffled, dazzled, and from time to time sundered the founding principles, hopes and desires of those who deal with it. To understand why it makes for a stinging debate, we need to go back in time and understand its evolutionary mechanism.
It has been said that the traders were the first skeptics; they had seen too much to believe too much, and this led them to question every creed. As mathematical complexity grew with the increasing complexity of exchange, there grew a need to develop a medium of exchange that was distinct from the then prevailing barter system. Hence, currency got invented. The growth of wealth brought the leisure and security, which are perquisites of research and speculation. This led to the advancement of science and technology. Now, equipped with intellect, people openly stood unafraid in presence of religious and political taboos, and brought every issue to the judgment seat of reason. This is believed to be the first among many instances in human history where money led to the development of rational thinking and speeding of economic progress, while gaining notoriety for creating rifts in social and political ideologies.
Transition from Agrarian to Industrial economy
Even when industry first appeared, it was domestic industry, carried on not in factories but in homes, filling the household with new noise and busyness, new functions and new significance. Everything conspired to strengthen the ties that held brother to brother, child to parent, and man to wife.
Then suddenly factories appeared; men and women began to leave home and family, authority and unity, to work as individuals, individually paid, in dismal structures raised to shelter not human beings but machines. Cities grew, inventions sprung, every year a new progeny of mechanisms made life more difficult to handle and understand. Money became the new code for happiness. It was the age of consumerism – T.V.’s, cars, home appliances etc. Ownership became a necessity. The new middle class thrived. The moral fabric of the society underwent a sharp change – promiscuity grew, the age of marriage got deferred, the youth became increasingly reckless, and more and more people denounced religion. The old moral code of punishment, built on fear, couldn’t withstand the influx of knowledge and reasoning. However, it was a generation of people struggling to find meaning and happiness in their lives; a generation rendered more and more obsolete with increasing mechanization.
The Great Depression of 1929 came as a blow. People lost their jobs, and were forced to sell their once prized possessions that bore hallmark of their base convictions and manual efforts.
Age of Globalization
As the division of labor enabled output to expand, the search for specialization expanded trade, and gradually, brought communities from disparate parts of the world together. This growing interdependence among countries and the increase in economic and social integration came to be known as ‘Globalization’.
Countries now exported goods over which they had a competitive advantage. Production became increasingly specialized. Globalization enabled goods to be produced in different parts of the world. This greater specialization enabled lower average costs and lower prices for consumers. Also, with advancement in technology and liberalization of trade, people benefitted immensely from low cost, better quality and variety of goods in the market. They now invested in technology and infrastructure, and aspired for a better standard of living. Thus, money now bought products that endorsed economic values.
Increased labor migration gave advantages to both workers and recipient countries. If a country experienced high unemployment, there were increased opportunities to look for work elsewhere. This process of labor migration also helped reduce geographical inequality. This has been quite effective in the EU, with many Eastern European workers migrating to the Western parts.
Greater competition forced many inefficient domestic industries to shut down; while those that remained had to improve the quality of their products in response to competition.
Civilization is forever in a flux, carried away and reshaped by the swift tide of new technology, new markets, and new needs. Our conception of happiness is forever evolving. Money, as a tool of exchange, has answered some of mankind’s greatest riddles; over time it has proven to be an effective barometer of society’s economic and moral progress, and has also shown when corrupted, it could uproot an entire civilization.
‘Make in India’Â campaign is a triumph of that creed of capitalism that believes in adding value to wealth, and not vice-versa. It attempts at tapping the vast wealth of a nation that with its rich resources, tradition, and demography to make its people self-reliant, and emerge as one of the most promising global leaders. The money generated will be recycled into projects that aim to elevate people by making them able-bodied. The program will unfold as follows:
â–ª Skill development programs would be launched especially for people from rural sections of the society.
â–ª 25 key sectors have been short listed such as telecommunications, power, automobile, tourism, pharmaceuticals and others.
â–ª Individuals aged 15-35 years would get high quality training in key areas such as welding, masonries, painting, nursing to help elder people.
â–ª Skill certifications would be given to make training process standardized, so that zero defects products can be produced.
â–ª Over 1000 training centers would be opened across India in the next 2 years.
â–ª For companies setting up factories, “Invest India” unit is being set-up in the commerce department, which would be available 24/7. The main focus of this department would be to make doing business in India easy by making all the approval processes simpler and resolving the issues in getting regulatory clearances within 48-72 hours so that clearances are fast. To make this possible, a special team would be available to answer all the queries to help foreign investors/companies. Also, the e-biz portal would be soon launched which would be real time and available 24*7.
“Mazhab nahin sikhaata aapas mein bair rakhna..”
Religion doesn’t teach people to fight among themselves.
Similarly, money doesn’t corrupt people. As we constantly struggle to develop a moral code for our society in these changing times, we must not forget what history and experience has shown us – that money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value; it’s a product of man’s rational faculty. As the experience of industrialization has shown us, money will not buy happiness to those who lack a conception of happiness; money demands the highest standards of virtue, and it shall only work for those who add character to it, and not corrupt it, or slander it in the name of greed.
Holding a professional degree doesn’t raise your educational or professional standard anymore than wearing Armani and expecting it to improve your sartorial sense. You represent the highest standards of professional, moral and ethical behavior of what you believe. It is you who represent a degree, and not the degree that represents you. It is your ability, your own skill that you eat off. It is you who make your job noble, in your eyes. And that is your character, your virtue.
Voicing Prime Minister’s glorious vision, here is a short excerpt from an essay on ‘Capitalism’ by Ayn Rand:
“Capitalism demands the best of every man–his rationality–and rewards him accordingly. It leaves every man free to choose the work he likes, to specialize in it, to trade his product for the products of others, and to go as far on the road of achievement as his ability and ambition will carry him. His success depends on the objective value of his work and on the rationality of those who recognize that value. When men are free to trade, with reason and reality as their only arbiter, when no man may use physical force to extort the consent of another, it is the best product and the best judgment that win in every field of human endeavor, and raise the standard of living–and of thought–ever higher for all those who take part in mankind’s productive activity.”