Now that so many countries are in economic ruins it would be nice for Hindus to refer to their scriptures for guidance. Hindu scriptures do not teach only about atman and paramatman but also laid down clear guidelines for Hindus to follow to experience maximum benefits of a Hindu way of life.
A cursory look at the causes for the collapse of the Sri Lankan economy points to over-dependence on tourism and a failure to diversify the economy; also, the spending of borrowed money in projects that are not generating revenue to repay the debt.
Self-control is what our Rishis have taught us. For example, the shastras laid out that while we strive for wealth and pleasure, we must not do so at the expense of dharma while at the same time not sacrificing the goal of our existence which is moksha.
Arth or wealth is integral to a Hindu way of life. Hindus need to work diligently to provide themselves with food, clothing, and shelter and other needs to make life comfortable. Without wealth an individual, family or nation would be at risk. At present the collapse of the Sri Lankan economy has seen the removal of the government and the creation of a power vacuum. Sri Lanka runs the risk of terrorist outfits exploiting the vulnerability of the nation for their selfish agenda.
A wealthy society needs to be responsible. It doesn’t need to get carried away with its newfound wealth and ignore its social responsibilities. This is exactly what happens to many mineral rich nations and winners of lotteries. The rush of wealth made them indulgent and in a matter of a few years it is squandered.
The Prime Minister of a small oil-rich Caribbean nation boasted in the 1970s that money was no problem. Social programs were devised to distribute money to its urban supporters. This freeness led to the migration of workers from the rural estates to the city to indulge in the energy windfall. Now 50 years later, this twin-island republic is in a recession with runaway crimes and trapped in a culture of state-dependency.
Structural poverty is present in the rural communities where governments have failed to invest in agriculture. Unfortunately, the will of the people to fight for social justice has been usurped by a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, laziness, and an absence of creative and entrepreneurial spirit.
Wearing brand named clothing and partying is the new wealth. Two beers, a pack of biscuits and a pack of cigarettes are the daily treat of these clients of the State. The culture of learning a skill is lost and going to school for most of the children from this social background is for freebees and to indulge in anti-social behaviors.
Even the wealthy 1% has lost the culture of competitive bidding for contracts from the State. Everything is served on a platter to the party financiers. The results are the compromise on the quality of public works and the over pricing of goods and services.
Runaway inflation is on the rise. The question must be asked: Where is the increase in productivity? Milk, cheese, beans and so many imported products are not produced to facilitate importation by political financiers. These ‘business’ arrangements may look advantageous to a few in the short term but not for the nation in the long term.
It is time for us to direct our energies to producing real wealth, not enjoying handouts from the State and other corrupt means. Wealth is good when it is earned through hard work and sacrifice. On the other hand, a culture of handouts and indulgence perpetuate crime and other anti-social behavior. Can I assume that in the case of this twin-island republic that the chickens are coming home to roost?