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   Small is still Beautiful
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
30 Jun 2013
u haven't read E F Schumacher's seminal work Small is Beautiful, first published in 1973, you can still sense the influence those arguments have in the present. Joseph Pearce examines the multifarious implications of growing materialism in this consumer's paradise to conclude that small is still beautiful. Written with care, compassion and clarity, Pearce draws distinction between a 'citizen' and a 'consumer' - citizens are humans and have souls whereas consumers are economic functionaries linked to growth. Unless the ‘citizen’ is reclaimed out of the ‘consumer’ the world will slip into materialistic hedonism, proclaims Pearce.

Since families form the smallest and most beautiful part of any healthy society, Pearce examines modern economics from the perspective of 'families' - economics as if families matterred. While championing the idea of self-limitation, Schumacher knew that this necessary virtue is enshrined in the everyday realities of family life. It is, however, another matter that while families have shrunk in size their needs have become over-sized.

Examining all aspects of the economy as it impacts families, from free trade to biological warfare and from perverse subsidies to democratic dictatorship, the book peeps into those initiatives which have successfully shun away from fashionable hedonism and a development hangover. In a world where we are not expected to ask why, but merely to know how, Pearce helps the reader in asking compelling questions on the insufficiency of science.

Since 'good' as a term has been has been replaced with 'goods', we seem to know the price of goods but not the instrinsic value of 'good'. With lust, envy, avarice, gluttony and pride being the essential marketing tools, sole aim of technological innovations targets market-driven self-gratification. Four decades since the publication of the timeless claasic Small is Beautiful, Pearce argues in favour of bringing teaching of traditional philosophy back on the national curriculum to challenge such growing trend. There could hardly be a timelier book than Small is still beautiful - it is pleasingly reflective and its literary style makes it a rewarding and gripping read.

Small is still beautiful
by Joseph Pearce
ISI Books, Washington
336 pages, US$ 8.68

 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!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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