Poverty, unemployment, corruption, economic depression, price rise, population explosion and increasing crime are great challenges before India and most countries of the world. Most of these existed in India when it got freedom from the British rule. People believed that they would soon be free from these problems too, but 70 years later, we are still grappling with them and seem to be losing the fight. Despite so many movements and struggles in the name of getting rid of these problems by different well-meaning people, we are heading nowhere. The frustration among people is mounting leading to frequent and violent outbursts.
It is against this backdrop Proutist Bloc, India demands ‘Amiirii Rekha’ i.e. a ceiling on the accumulation of physical wealth by an individual, as suggested by the first fundamental principle of PROUT: No individual should be allowed to accumulate any physical wealth without the clear permission or approval of the collective body.
While the imposition of a ceiling on the accumulation of wealth may seem dictatorial to many, it can be justified on the following basis:
a) The right to property is not natural: Unlike the right to live, think and speak, the right to property is not a natural right. Nobody is born or dies with any physical wealth. Everything – air, water, land, light, sun, moon and, even our body and mind –is a gift from nature; we have done nothing to earn them. Nobody, therefore, can claim the ownership of anything; we have only the usufructuary rights i.e. the right to use.
Except a few western and European countries, the native cultures of Asia, Africa, America and Australia consider god the master and owner of the universe. The right to property came into existence around the end of the 18th century when England and some other European countries witnessed the historical Industrial Revolution. Scrambling for more and more profits, the capitalists exploited everything aggressively – land, water, forests, minerals, flora and fauna, and even their fellow human beings. Their dominance in the social and political life of the times made the right to property so sacred.
b) Physical wealth is limited: The earth has plenty yet limited resources. Ideally they should be used for more than 7 billion human beings and countless other beings. But if they are concentrated in the hands of a few people, the rest of humanity will have to live a hellish life. A little data below shows that this has already happened:
One the one hand
- Only 1% of the world’s population owns more wealth than the rest of the population.1
- The richest 8 people own more than the collective wealth of 3.5 billion people i.e. half of the world’s population.2
- Even in US, 400 richest people have more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the US population. 3
On the other hand
- While 10% Indians possess 80% wealth of India, 1/3 of the world’s poor live in India.4
- 57 Indian Billionaires Own Wealth Equal to Bottom 70% of Country’s Population.5
- 75 percent of rural India survives on Rs 33 per day.6
- According to WHO, every year 98,000 people in India die from diarrhea as they have no access to clean drinking water.7
- About 3000 children die from hunger and malnutrition in India every day.8
This leads to a clear conclusion that the present socio-economic system ,which allows for unrestricted accumulation of wealth, is utterly unwarranted, and therefore Amiirii Rekha is completely justified. Amiirii Rekha will have the following effects:
Removal of Poverty: when there is a limit to which a person can accumulate, the excess will flow to others, leading naturally to the removal of poverty. Besides, PBI proposes the following measures for the removal of poverty and healthy growth:
- The minimum and maximum income of a person must be fixed.
- The minimum income must be high enough to purchase basic requirements i.e. food, clothes, shelter, education and medical care.
- More talented, hardworking and honest people should be given more salary and incentives to a certain limit. The maximum must not be more than 10 times the minimum.
- The gap between the two must be gradually reduced, but not completely done away with. Complete equality, like extreme inequality, is unnatural and discourages the meritorious and the hard working, causing the fall in the quality and quantity of production. The communist economies like Russia are the best example of this impractical approach.
Removal of Corruption: Man needs money to fulfill his present needs and the future or emergency needs. If he continues to accumulate money even after earning enough for both the needs, it means he has fallen prey to a mental disease, in which he is drawing pleasure out of sheer accumulation.. Accumulating money has become a number game for him – from 1 million to 10 millions to 100 millions and so on – the diseases continues.
If I told you that a friend of mine is fond of caps. He has a good collection of caps; he has caps piled up everywhere in the drawing room, on the sofa, on the table; in the bedroom -- on the bed, in the bed, under the bed; in the bathroom, in the toilet, in the kitchen, on the roof, in the courtyard, in the backyard and now he is planning to buy one more flat to store more of his caps, you wouldn’t hesitate much in declaring him mad. In sharp contrast to this, the people who are equally and madly engaged in accumulating money are respected and seen as role models in our society. But what is the difference between collecting caps and hoarding the wealth that you won’t use? Just think -- if hoarding grains, fruit, vegetables, oil etc. beyond a certain limit is unethical and illegal, why should hoarding of the ‘means’ to acquire these commodities be just and legal?
Money can fulfill your ‘need’, not your ‘greed’. The corruption is caused by the people who are suffering from the mental ailment called avarice or geed. The people –- government officials, politicians or businessmen –- who need money to maintain their social status and luxurious lifestyle commit scams; it is they who give or take bribes. The corruption caused by common person under some compulsion can be easily done away with, but the corruption bred by towering greed can be checked only when there is a ceiling on wealth.
A question can arise here: how can the income or expenditure of a person be watch and controlled? It is, of course, a difficult task, but in this age of sophisticated technology, it is not impossible. Can’t it be regulated like our phone’s talk time and internet data?
Cure for Economic Depression: The world is passing through a severe economic depression. The shopkeepers are worried about falling numbers of footfalls. Markets are crammed with goods and services but there are no buyers. For example, newly constructed houses are not selling although millions of people are forced to sleep under the open sky. In a country like America the number of vacant homes (18.6 million) is more than the homeless people(3.5 million).9
The depression occurs when a large portion of available money is concentrated in a few hands and the greater part of the population is partially or fully deprived of ‘purchasing power’. In this situation when the goods produced in the factories don’t get sold, the capitalists cut down the production and lay off or retrench their employees declining the purchasing power of the people further.
The solution is ‘keep the money rolling’; let it not lie unused in a few pockets. Like a pool of stagnant water, stagnant money too gives rise to the diseases like economic depression, unemployment, poverty, crime etc. To make our economy function smoothly, we must ensure that money reaches each and every member of society so that they have sufficient purchasing power to buy the goods and services needed for a good life. And the first step in this direction is Amiirii Rekha.
Solution to Unemployment: About a million (ten lakhs) Indians reach the employment age every month.10 It means India needs about 120 millions jobs every year. According to labour bureau statistics, job creation or job growth for 2015 and 2016 stood at 1.55 lakh and 2.31 lakh in numbers respectively. The situation in the previous years hadn’t been less dismal.11
Do we have these jobs ? The answer is ‘no’. Can these jobs be generated? The answer is ‘yes’. With so many industries , schools, colleges, hospitals, roads, railway tracks, bridges, canals etc. waiting to be built all over the country and a large army of skilled and unskilled people desperately willing to be employed, it is possible to tackle the problem of unemployment. But the government does not have sufficient money to invest in these projects and thereby create employment. So, through FDI and PPP, it invites investment from big capitalists, who have zillions at their disposal. They do invest but with an intention to earn more and more out of less and less. And since employment generation is not their goal, they withdraw the moment they sense any danger to their profits or investment leaving everybody else in the lurch.
Moreover, the people with money want to make more money quickly and easily, so they tend to invest in speculation instead of productive activities. John Eatwell, one of the leading specialists in finance at Cambridge University, estimates that, in 1970, about 90% of international capital was used for trade and long-term investment-more or less productive things- and 10% for speculation. By 1990, those figures had reversed: 90% for speculation and 10% for trade and long-term investment.12
The solution is Amiirii Rekha. Let nobody accumulate so much wealth that they hijack the entire economy. Let nobody posssess such vast sums of money that the entire development process is subject to their whims and desires. Once this is done, there will be socialization of wealth and there will enough money for production and development leading to more and more employment opportunities.