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   Economy of Permanence
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
27 Mar 2011

Permanence in a transient world

There are still bits of history in Wardha, the district town in Vidharbha, Maharashtra. There is an air of optimism as one strolls across the sleepy streets, sensing a whiff of peace and non-violence as people go about their daily chores. Modernity has yet to take full control on peoples’ life; the creative genius has an environment to flourish here.

Magan Sanghralaya, in the middle of the town, is a repository of non-violent tools and techniques for building an ‘economy of permanence’. It houses what Joseph Cornelius Kumarappa, whom Gandhi called the ‘doctor of village industries’, stood for in giving constructive shape to Gandhi’s revolutionary ideas.

Published over 65 years ago, Economy of Permanence is seemingly more relevant today then during the period it was written. Even as early as in 1945, Kumarappa had given a call to shun the use of non-renewable resources which he proclaimed belonged to a ‘bucket economy’ (where the water gets depleted) and exhorted that we need a ‘river economy’ instead (one that replenishes).

Partly experiential, the non-violent way of life is based on author’s own transformation from a Europeanized lifestyle. In detailing out the inter-related facets of life, lifestyle and livelihoods, Kumarappa builds his thesis on the premise that the life of man is transient in comparison with that of Nature, which is relatively permanent.

In his foreword to Economy of Permanence, Gandhi had observed that ‘it needs careful reading twice or thrice if it is to be fully appreciated’. Kumarappa was clearly ahead of his times, talking of moral values and cooperative banking in the same breath. With equal ease, he could relate standard of living to the idea of democracy as well.

Despite the book been written more than half a century ago, many of Kumarappa’s ideas are still being effectively pursued in and around Wardha. Economy of Permanence is a work of practical philosophy, insightful and inspiring at the same time.

Economy of Permanence
by J C Kumarappa
Magan Sangrahalaya Samiti, Wardha
186 pages, Rs 200


 
 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
 
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

 
Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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Book Shelf

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