Satyavad – part 3

Previously Mrittunjoy explained the economic angles of Satyavad. Now he covers how government should work along and how companies should show corporate social responsibility.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Since the industrial revolution, capital and resources feeding into and from the market have played a primary role in human existence and society. A role much more prominent than probably ever in the past. In fact, so much so that all aspects of society and politics revolves only around the generation, transfer and maintenance of capital and resources. I propose a slight variation, wherein the relation one has with society is made important too. Much like corporate bodies have the whole culture of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), wherein Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) makes corporates look good on paper to market forces and society at large, one needs to actively bring this down to the individual level, with what I would like to simply call as Personal Social Responsibility (PSR). A system wherein social capital is the bedrock of society as much as financial capital is. This could be with a way in social capital, if there could be a formal and physical way of assessing that, is transferred between individuals and actively endorsed in the process.

I know that people will speak of the subjectivity involved but here I am not highlighting the nitty-gritties as much as I am seeking a cultural change that makes it good, fashionable even, to be truly and honestly compassionate, caring and altruistic. If we can have social media and the use of technology for everything from taking ridiculous selfies on falling ocean waves to bitcoining away to glory, why can we not use technology to also facilitate this idea of an `economy of social capital’. An economy where social capital fundamentally defines the way in which a person is perceived and engaged with, when it comes to interactions or transactions, much like corporates have in their CSR culture. Some may say that this may take away from the selflessness of altruism or care for society. I do not think so, till there are checks and balances to keep endorsements (on a certain charitable act or initiative) measured and anonymous, and that the largely picture and importance of the social capital is highlighted.

Collaborative e-governance and Democracy

I feel that this system will go quite well with what I see as the most Dharmic form of government: collaborative e-governance and democracy. A system that mixes elements of representative and direct democracy. That allows the common man to propose, formulate and stand by ideas for the welfare of society. A system that involves the common man in the decision making process, without compromising on the quality of the policies and decisions made. This is done through a tiered system that involves all the stakeholders: representatives, private sector, independent organizations and think-tanks, and the common man, coming together on a virtual platform. Under this system, proposals for policy or law can be put forth by individuals or groups, vetted by experts (who also inform the masses and the representatives of the nuances of a suggested policy), and then voted in.

In a direct democracy, each citizen would be required to vote on each policy issue each time. This could overburden most people and not allow for the pursuit of activities and interests as per their Swadharma, and therefore in a truly Dharmic system, the citizens should be able to delegate responsibility to trusted representatives to vote on their behalf on those issues where they lack time and/or interest and/or knowledge and understanding. Though these representatives vote on the individual’s behalf, the final voting power must remain with the voter at the ground level. In this system, if the economy of social capital may be integrated, then we move towards a system of governance and politics that is not only Dharmic but highly efficient and representative. In this section, I have looked at the practicalities and possibilities of such a system, while in the previous section I looked at the broader framework for such a political philosophy.

In Conclusion

In this essay, I have looked at some core ideas of ancient Indian philosophy and tried to synthesize by reasoning and reflection a truly Indian political philosophy — Satyashrama, and the school of socio-politics that aligns with the same – Satyavad. Today people speak of Hindu nationalism and communal politicking in the same breath. Today people talk of fascism and a culture that has always believed in tolerance and dignity of the individual since times immemorial, again, in the same breath. It is shameful that this is the case, and this has happened due to a combination of lack of proper representation of fundamentally Indian values and ideals today, as well as convenient veiling of these values and ideals for political gain. It is time for change. For meaningful change. Change that respects the roots of Indian life, culture and society, and at the same time is at the very frontier of the modern age, in its conception and application.

Satyavad is not capitalist in that it has a fundamental aspect in its compassion for all. It is not communist for liberty of the individual is maintained and respected. It is not even a social market economy, since the private sector need not be forced to pay the welfare state. It relies on the belief in the innate humanity of the individual, taken to a level where practically it becomes good and useful to feed back into the system. It relies on the belief that every person must have the dignity to life and opportunities to live a good life, a life based on their Swadharma. One key issue that may emerge is the accumulation of interest and talent in a generation on one profession, which has to be pre-empted by a slow cultural change where all livelihoods and professions are fundamentally respected and promoted.

With this essay and these words I present a system of life, politics and society for a sustainable today and tomorrow, which respects universal and fundamental truths of society.

Mrittunjoy Guha Majumdar

Mrittunjoy is a youth-scientist, student leader, poet, writer, social thinker and activist. He's currently pursuing a postdoctoral project in Physics under Nobel Laureate Prof. Brian Josephson, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, and a postdoctoral affiliate of Trinity College, Cambridge. He has been a four-time elected student leader of the Cambridge University Student Union and Cambridge University Graduate Union and was recently selected among the ‘35 under 35 UK-India Young Leaders’ at the first UK-India Young Leaders Forum.