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Fair Share


In his book, ‘The Prophet’, Kahlil Gibran has instructed merchants on buying and selling, which includes the dictum, ‘And before you leave the market place, see that no one has gone his way with empty hands.’ The great philosopher has explained the essence of keeping the market thriving and thereby keeping the economy in good health.

Many modern day economists focus more on the evolutionary ‘survival of the fittest’ principle in free-market economics, some even are unwilling to accept the need for regulations, but while this may have led to the rise and fall of empires in the past, civilisation requires adherence to nobler goals. One definition of this in the context of capitalism was stated as the ‘trusteeship concept’ by Mahatma Gandhi, who was no doubt inspired by the notions of ancient Dharma.

Great wealth has to be held in trust on behalf of the people and this has increasingly becoming a reality in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Philanthropy is being practiced on a global scale by the rich, instead of squandering money by building monuments to their ego. Trusteeship, of course, is not just charity; it has to do with encouraging the positive principles in human society, by ensuring that the efforts of every section of society to better their lives are not thwarted by an unfair system. In India, the most visible manifestation of this principle has been seen in Sikhism and its emphasis on ‘Seva’ by gifting not just money but also one’s time. The community has only prospered as a result.

Having acquired the means to destroy the world several times over, it has been humanity’s effort to keep from doing so and the best way to do that has been by functioning as a family that cares for its weakest members. The short-lived League of Nations, earlier, and the UNO, presently, are manifestations of a more evolved world. Despite continuing setbacks, including the present crisis in Ukraine, the effort is to place principle over power. It is not a surprise that, in the process, there is greater appreciation of India’s ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ tradition. Recent events have shown how there is a tilt towards acknowledgement of India’s ‘non-violent’ approach after failed attempts to establish global hegemony by the great powers. Modern Science and Technology have provided unprecedented ability for humanity to become prosperous, but it cannot be done without ensuring that no one leaves the market empty-handed.