Photo: Hindustan Times
Photo: Hindustan Times

Inclusive economics: Empowering the whole of humanity

In our lives, if we do not do what we cannot do, that is not a problem. But if we do not do what we can do, that is a disaster

The societies and nations of today are driven mainly by their economic process. The world is going through a transition where the era of ideologies and political systems is becoming redundant. In the next two decades, the economic leadership is poised to play a far more important role in the world than the political and military leadership. When the economic engine is driving the very fundamentals of the world, it is very important that the leaders who handle the economic process rise above ethnic, religious and national identities as the economic process can no longer be contained within any kind of identity or boundary.

In the last decade, I have been a speaker at various economic and business forums. In the initial phase, the question was always, “What is a mystic’s role in a business meeting?" This is a serious flaw in the way we are conducting life on this planet. We have divided the world into first world, second world, third world, religious world, corporate world, etc. Every activity that we do is essentially aimed towards the well-being of all life, but in the process of conducting this activity, we start working against each other.

I had to take pains to explain that, irrespective of what the nature of their immediate business may be, in reality there is only one business—the business of human well-being. That’s everyone’s business and that is my business too. Whatever one is manufacturing, whether it be a safety pin, a computer or a spacecraft, all this is to serve the interest of human well-being. It is just the scale and scope that is different. For one person, human well-being means one’s own well-being. For another, it includes their family. For another, it includes their community, nation or race. For another, it includes everyone and everything on the planet.

I am striving to include into a spiritual process all those involved in driving the economic engine because fundamentally, spirituality is to raise one beyond physical and individual identifications into a state of all-inclusive oneness. The spiritual process need not be taught as a philosophy or a belief system. What we refer to as spirituality is just a technology for inner well-being—it can be imparted as simple methods which naturally lead to a more inclusive way of experiencing life.

Over 80% of the world’s economy is controlled by less than 2,500 people. If even a 10% change happens in their hearts, the world will change. The world is hungry not because there is no food. It is just that those who need it are not getting it because, one way or the other, those who have the power and the means have not cared enough to do something about it.

“Inclusive economics" means empowering the whole of humanity to participate in a robust and all-inclusive economic process. For example, providing good health care and quality education for the disadvantaged populations is not charity. It is an investment that creates quality human resources and expands markets, furthering the reach and scope of the economic engine. This does not mean going back to failed systems like communism or socialism, but administering and driving the economic engine in a gentler and compassionate way that will lead to including every human being. Leaving over 50% of the population out of an active involvement in the economic process does not make good business sense.

For this process to sustain itself, it is imperative that it be driven not by personal ambition, but by vision. It is extremely important that individuals in key leadership positions who shape the life and future of humanity are firmly established in an inner experience of inclusiveness. This has become my life, my work and my endeavour—to develop methods to help people experience this inclusiveness.

Today, for the first time in the history of humanity, we are capable of addressing every fundamental human problem on this planet—nourishment, health, education—you name it, we can address it. We have the necessary resources, capabilities and technology. Whether we will do it or not simply depends on how inclusive our experience of life is. If you experience this planet as yourself, I don’t have to tell you, “Take care of it." Every human being would do their best.

In our lives, if we do not do what we cannot do, that is not a problem. But if we do not do what we can do, that is a disaster. And right now, what we can do compared to what we could do a hundred years ago is so incredibly enhanced, but what’s missing is an all-inclusive experience of life. If we truly have to create solutions that are relevant for all, an experience of absolute inclusiveness has to happen to humanity, particularly for the leadership.

The author is the founder of Isha Foundation.

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