Organized religions are becoming dangerously keen on meddling in everything and anything that is remotely connected with God. The newly evolving trend of religious banking (viz. Islamic Banking) is one such unwanted tendency with far reaching implications. Ever since we started witnessing competitive marketing of religious ideologies with a view to maximize converts and thereby capture political power, many such unhealthy tendencies have raised their heads. For the organized religions it is far more difficult to appeal to the rationale and spirituality of freedom loving human beings and hence the need to conjure up innovative ideas that may appeal to their basic instincts. Eating more food, seeking more pleasure, making more money and reserving their place in the paradise by heinous deeds are some of the catchy appeals that is drawing more of the lazy and lethargic. Nothing succeeds like success and the organizers are never tired of trying new avenues for religious conversion.
If religion and God are inseparable, religion and money must be immiscible if not repelling. There is no doubt that money is equally important as belief in God in today’s world but anything that attempts to see God in money is not only distasteful but unworthy of being propagated. Each intelligent freedom loving individual is trying to define the concept of God in his own way and mixing it up with money is the best way to spoil such laudable efforts. God who deals with money and talks about it is Man’s nemesis and not savior. How can an omnipotent energy that is spurring Man’s spiritual quest make him even think of one of the major causes of human worry? Making money, saving money and spending money are solely related to our mundane existence and it is much better to keep God away from such necessary evils.
Collapse of Dubai Banking
One of the best tragedies of mixing God with money is the collapse of Dubai. For quite some time, Dubai has been trying to achieve in a decade what others could do in a century. Be it the tallness of buildings or reclamation of land from the sea or increasing the number of tourists or organizing the biggest & best of events or announcing the biggest of projects, Dubai wanted to beat the world just by its desire and daring. The fact that it lacks human and natural resources did not deter Dubai from aiming for the very top at the fastest pace. It learned very early that tapping money from wherever it is available has got limits. The vast potential of Islamic Banking was a natural discovery in its further efforts to explore all avenues for keeping its money inflow open. A good number of rich but gullible individuals and institutions fell into the trap is something that all of us have learned now, though unbelievingly. Boost up bubble can only burst and Dubai banking bubble has finally burst.
The obvious way to ensure development in any system is by nurturing its positive growth trends. Many forgot the simple fact that the only ways to make money grow is by drawing interest or making profit by putting it to productive use. In an institution dealing with money viz. financial institutions, it is naturally by lending money for productive use of adding value to raw materials. The profit thus generated adds onto the principal and thereby generates growth. The only other age-old principle of money growth is by levying interest on it for keeping it dynamic. Stagnant money indicates death and no country or society can tolerate a dead economy. The concept of interest on money is definitely not anything evil but a time-tested noble method to guarantee growth of money even if it is not put to any productive use. Inflation is a necessary evil in any economy and interest is the natural protection against it.
Need of Dharmic Banking
Like in all aspects of life, anything that is unbridled and uncontrolled can lead us to the graveyard faster than due. The case of interest on money is another good example where moderation can sustain and excess can ruin. And more importantly, lack of it can also ruin. So interest on money is inevitable and indispensable, but must be applied on moderation. The concept of dharmic banking becomes very relevant in this regard. One of the four duties (and privileges) of Man (the other three being Artha, Kama and Moksha), Dharma has been defined as “that which sustains” and banking institutions based on dharma can make a lot of difference in a world full of inequality. As an example, imagine a system where A can get an agricultural loan at 5% interest and B can get the same loan only at 10% interest based on their inequalities. Interest rates in a dharmic banking industry can become instruments for closing the inequality gap in our society.
Many of our Puranas and scriptures contain reference to such a banking industry that once existed in our great nation. The concepts of gold loans, chitty kuries, pledging land for loans, farming on loaned lands etc., are remnants of a highly innovative and dharmic financial system that once prevailed. Money on interest was easily available in our country at varying interest rates for various applicants depending upon their status and purpose. That is why we could control up to 40% of the world’s GDP at one stage in the not-so-distant past. Money lenders were an integral part of our society carrying out their dharma in the best interests of the society with reasonable rates of interest. Then what went wrong was the intervention of a foreign value system that considers interest in anything as sin.
The concept of dharmic banking is not to be confused with that of any religious banking. It is not on the basis of any instructions from God or on the basis of do’s and don’ts related to religious rituals. Financial institutions that follow the concept of dharmic banking must be capable of lending according to need and charging interest on loans according to the current economic status of the taker. Current economic status of the loan taker must be a definite criterion while deciding on the interest charges on his or her loan. It is by judicial and dharmic use of the best financial tool mankind has ever invented namely interest on money that we should bring in economic equality in the present world. Avoiding it and trying to bring in more returns by undue profiteering is definitely not intended by an omnipotent God. Such concepts are only part of some other sinister agenda being pushed on by imperialist forces.