P. R. Sarkar
In today’s world large animals are on the verge of extinction. Environmental conditions do not support the existence of big animals any longer. In the past many large creatures inhabited the earth, but as environmental conditions changed and human beings extended their domination over the planet, giant animals became extinct.
Similarly, small states are struggling to survive. People are more interested in forming larger and larger socio-economic units to ensure the welfare of all than in maintaining many small states. Narrow sentiments are gradually fading away and a universal outlook is arising in the minds of human beings. Science and technological development have exposed the blind faith and dogma that have suffocated many sections of society, and gradually humanity is advancing towards an age of rationality and common interest. The present age is not the age of large animals and small states.
In accordance with this trend, PROUT advocates the formation of self-sufficient socio-economic units throughout the world. They will work to enhance the all-round welfare of the people in their respective areas and unite humanity on a common ideological base. The interests of all local people will be guaranteed and gain proper recognition. As each unit becomes strong and prosperous it will merge with other units. The formation of a world government will assist this process of integration. Socio-economic units will thus facilitate the comprehensive, multifarious liberation of humanity.
Since the beginning of history there has been an incessant fight for freedom from natural, social, economic and political bondages. This fight is inherent in human nature. Human beings want freedom both as individuals and as members of society, and to achieve this freedom they must fight against all types of oppression. Yet we find that when any oppressed group or class gained some measure of freedom it in turn oppressed others.
Whatever liberty exists in society today is the result of prolonged struggle by many individuals and groups. At the root of this struggle is the innate human desire for happiness – the longing to establish oneself in the supreme flow of bliss. To fulfil this longing in individual life, human beings have to attain the absolute state and break all shackles of relativity. It is a natural human tendency to liberate the mind from the bondages of time, space and person, but only the attainment of the absolute can fulfil the innate desire for happiness.
Society will have to encourage the individual search for absolute freedom because the psychic and spiritual realms are unlimited, and possession in these spheres does not hinder the progress of others. But unrestricted freedom to acquire wealth in the physical sphere has every possibility of permitting a few people to roll in luxury while hampering the all-round growth of the majority, because physical resources are limited. Individual liberty in the physical sphere must not be allowed to hamper the development of the complete human personality, and at the same time it must not be so drastically curtailed that the all-round growth of society is impeded.
Freedom is a right of every human being. To encourage comprehensive, unbarred human expression in the different spheres of social life a congenial socio-economic environment has to be created, because as such an environment does not exist today.
Criteria for Groupification
While forming socio-economic units, several factors should be considered. These include same economic problems; uniform economic potentialities; ethnic similarities; the sentimental legacy of the people; and similar geographical features.
“Same economic problems” refers to the common economic problems confronting people in a particular unit and may include the lack of markets for locally produced goods, surplus or deficit labour problems, communication or transportation difficulties and lack of irrigation water. Ascertaining whether or not a similar set of economic problems exists in an area is the first thing which should be clearly analysed when forming a socio-economic unit. The economic problems of the socio-economic unit, and their solutions, should be well understood.
Secondly, there should be uniform economic potentialities in the unit. Despite natural variations from place to place, overall the people throughout a unit should enjoy similar opportunities for economic prosperity. Disparity between the haves and the have-nots and the rich and the poor will have to be progressively reduced so that the collective wealth will increase and society will become bountiful.
Thirdly, there should be ethnic similarities. In the past many races and sub-races have been suppressed and exploited by powerful or dominant races. Racism has been propagated by those with evil designs in order to divide society and establish their own pre-eminence. Society must guard against such narrow and dangerous sentiments. This can be done only if every ethnic group has adequate scope for its expression and development. The multi-coloured garland of humanity will be enriched to the extent diverse human groups blend together from a position of strength and independence out of a genuine love for each other, and are not forced together through fear or compulsion.
Fourthly, sentimental legacy includes factors such as language, historical traditions, literature, common usages and cultural expressions. It is the common chord in the collective psychology of a particular group of people which gives them their unique identity and sense of affinity.
Human beings are predominantly sentimental by nature. They establish some kind of relationship with the many objects of the world through their day-to-day activities. If the sentiment for a particular favourite object is adjusted with the collective sentiment then that sentiment can be utilized for establishing unity in human society. The human sentiment for many objects may sometimes run counter to the collective sentiment and create great disunity, so those sentiments which are conducive to human unity should be encouraged, and the sentiments which divide human society should be rejected. This is the approach adopted by PROUT’s socio-economic units.
Finally, similar geographical features such as topography, river systems, rainfall and irrigation water should also be considered in the formation of a socio-economic unit.
Socio-economic units will give expression to popular sentiments and fight against all forms of exploitation to meet the demands and aspirations of the local people. Movements will have to be launched throughout the world to establish self-sufficient socio-economic units based on the maxim, “Know the area, prepare the plan and serve the people.” Local people are those who have merged their individual socio-economic interests with the socio-economic interests of the socio-economic unit they live in.
Self-Sufficient Socio-Economic Units
Each socio-economic unit should prepare and implement its own developmental programmes. Factors like natural resources, topography, river systems, cultural conditions, communication and industrial potential need to be considered to facilitate proper planning and development so that each unit will become economically self-sufficient and prosperous. If a significant part of the production of a unit is misutilized or capital is sent outside, the unit cannot increase its prosperity, hence there should be maximum utilization of all resources and no drainage of capital.
The Indian state of Orissa is very rich in mineral resources such as coal, bauxite and manganese, but the present leaders export these mineral resources to other countries. If the raw materials had been utilized for indigenous industrial production, then four big steel plants could easily have been established. This would have substantially raised per capita income. But the leaders, instead of paying attention to those things, whimsically frame five year plans. These plans neither remove economic disparity nor increase collective wealth.
To achieve these objectives, the Indian economy has to be thoroughly overhauled. At the very outset, to facilitate socio-economic development, the country should be divided into socio-economic units. If state boundaries are demarcated on the basis of political and linguistic considerations, then socio-economic plans can never be properly prepared and implemented, and various economic problems will not be given due attention. Self-sufficient units are indispensable for expediting the country’s economic progress.
Merging Socio-Economic Units
Where there is economic parity, cultural mixing, communication facilities and administrative efficiency, it will be easy and natural for two or more adjoining units to cooperate, because they will have attained a high degree of socio-economic uniformity. In such cases they should merge to form a single larger unit. This will further the welfare of their respective citizens and enhance their socio-economic interests.
In some places regions with different economic problems are located within the same political unit. For example, in the Chotanagpur Hills in Bihar there is an acute problem of irrigation, whereas in the plains of north Bihar there is the problem of water drainage. These two regions should be formed into distinct socio-economic units. Royalseema, Shrii Kakulam and Telengana have all been annexed to the one political state of Andhra, although their economic problems are different. In the interests of the people living in these three regions, each should be formed into a distinct socio-economic unit. If these three regions are converted into a single economic unit right now simply for administrative purposes, it may lead to complications.
Thus, in some cases one political unit may be divided into two or more socio-economic units. That is, there can be more than one socio-economic unit in a political unit. This approach will enable different socio-economic units to develop to a level which fulfils their potentiality.
If a particular state in a federal system cannot get economic justice, it may agitate for the separate allocation of funds within the federal budget. If, after launching such an agitation, it still fails to secure proper justice, it will have no alternative but to demand the formation of a separate state.
However, PROUT does not favour the formation of many small states, each with its separate budget and administration. Numerous state divisions will only compound socio-economic problems, causing unnecessary duplication, and are costly and wasteful. Rather, small states should be expanded into larger socio-economic units.
When two units reach a similar level of development, they should merge together to form a larger unit. This process of unification will gradually result in the formation of one socio-economic unit for all India. In the next phase, through continued growth and development, the whole of South and Southeast Asia will become one socio-economic unit. Eventually, the whole world will function as one integrated socio-economic unit. After reaching this stage of development, socio-economic groupifications will have attained a state of equipoise and equilibrium, and universal fraternity will become a reality.
Universal in Spirit, Regional in Approach
Socio-economic units are bound to gain great popularity all over the world within a short time. While there may be diverse cultural expressions and socio-economic potentialities in different units, the points of difference should not be allowed to divide humanity. If the common sentiments of human beings are given prominence and the points of unity are made the basis of collective development, diversity will enrich humanity rather than tear it asunder. If each socio-economic unit is inspired by a comprehensive ideology and a universal outlook, human society will move ahead with accelerating speed towards a sublime ideal.
A sound ideological base is a prerequisite for socio-economic groupifications. Such a foundation is provided by universal humanism, which has the potential to unite all humanity. Universal humanism will not be established on the hard crust of the earth overnight, but will come to fruition gradually, stage by stage. It will include each and every person in the world, as well as animals, plants and inanimate objects. If a single person remains outside the influence of universalism and becomes a victim of exploitation, then the foundation of universal humanism will be undermined. Hence, PROUT has adopted a rational method to solve socio-economic problems which may be characterized as universal in spirit but regional in approach.
Protection from Exploitation
Once socio-economic units are established throughout the world, how will exploitation be avoided in the future? Society will enjoy lasting protection from all types of exploitation only if an integrated ideology, an empirical spiritual base, spiritually oriented cadres and proper institutions are well established in social life.
An integrated ideology should have several aspects. It must be the basis for the rational analysis of socio-economic problems and the formulation of comprehensive, appropriate and logical solutions. Secondly, it must not ignore the human need for psychic expansion and spiritual emancipation. And thirdly, it should be imbued with inherent dynamism and vitality so that it can guide humanity forward in its quest for all-round progress.
An empirical spiritual base will protect society from all fissiparous tendencies and group or clan sentiments which create shackles of narrow-mindedness. Spirituality does not recognize any unnatural distinctions between human beings. It stands for evolution and elevation and not for superstition or pessimism.
Spiritually oriented cadres will provide a moral check against all forms of exploitation, and propagate moral and spiritual values throughout society according to the maxim, “Self-realization and service to humanity.”
Finally, proper institutions are necessary to reflect the needs and aspirations of the people and work for the cause of human welfare. The need for a world government is already apparent to many people, and in the future, once it is established, its powers should be progressively strengthened. Each socio-economic unit will have to get ample scope for its integrated development within the framework of the world government.
PROUT’s system of socio-economic groupifications is a comprehensive approach to the socio-economic problems confronting society. If people adopt such an approach, society will move along the path of progress with increasing speed, overcoming all bondages and hindrances. Human society will enjoy a bright and glorious future.
October 1979, Calcutta