Nehru on Vedantic Philosophy for Alternative Economic Development of India

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru found and realized communism was too closely associated with the multifarious violence in the society. Therefore, he was trying to find out alternative model to communism to ‘get a solution of getting rid of class struggles and inequality and create a classless society with equal opportunities to all.’ His mind called for two paths- methods of violence or peaceful Means. Due to association of communism with violence at various behavioural levels, he replaced it ‘by acknowledging Vedantic Philosophy as an alternative model of economic development.’

According to his changing mindset with a new vision, he wrote a letter to the Chief Ministers of India on July 13, 1958, as follows:

“The basic thing, I believe, is that wrong means will not lead to right results and that is no longer merely an ethical doctrine but a practical proposition.... It is said that there is a sense of frustration and depression in India and the old buoyancy of spirit is not to be found, at a time when enthusiasm and  hard work are most needed. This is not merely in evidence in our country. It is in a sense a world phenomenon. An old and valued colleague said that this is due to our not having a philosophy of life and indeed the world also is suffering from this lack of a philosophical approach. In our efforts to ensure the material property of the country, we have not paid any attention to the spiritual element in human nature. Therefore, in order to give the individual and the nation a sense of purpose, something to live for and, if necessary, to die for, we have to revive some philosophy of life and give, in the wider sense of the word, a spiritual background to our thinking. We talk of Welfare State and of democracy and socialism. They are good concepts but they hardly convey a clear and unambiguous meaning. This was the argument and then the question arose as to what our ultimate objective should be. Democracy and socialism are means to an end, not the end itself. We talk of the good of society. Is this something apart from the transcending the good of the individuals composing it? If the individual is ignored and sacrificed for what is considered the good of the society, is that the right objective to have?”

He further shared,

“ ...It is right education and good health that will give the foundation for economic as well as cultural and spiritual progress....We have thus to do our own thinking, profiting by the example of others but essentially trying to find a path for ourselves suited to our own conditions. In considering these economic aspects of our problems, we have always to remember the basic approach of peaceful means; and perhaps we might also keep in view the old Vedantic ideal of the life force which is the inner base of everything that exists.”

It was just an echo of Swami Vivekananda who ‘sincerely tried to build a bridge between age-old Indian moral and ethical approaches to life and modern economic needs of India.’  He tried to alert Indians  “… we want that energy, that love of independence, that spirit of self-sacrifice, that immovable fortitude, that dexterity in action, that bond of unity of purpose, that thirst for improvement”. He repeatedly reminded, “...the ethical considerations should play an important role during economic decision making”

At present economic and socio-cultural crisis of the country is pushing to an unrest encircling with the politics of divisions and disharmony. Conflict and violence are taking place of everyday life. People of every corner are in a critical junction due to too much greed and selfishness. The Nation is observing the World Yoga Day. But what is its implication? Is it only for good health? What would be the strategies to revive this economic and socio-cultural crisis? Would government try to follow the path of Vedantic philosophy?


More by :  Dr. Harasankar Adhikari

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