Tag Archives: social issues

Simplicity for a Better Tomorrow


=Simplicity for a better Tomorrow=

==Introduction==
  Think of some rich and famous personality, and mostly you end up hearing about the posh bungalows they live in, the swanky cars in which they drive about, a battery of security staff surrounding them, the expensive branded stuff that they wear or posses etc. The list goes on and on. However, have you heard of some personalities who are refreshing exceptions to this rule, who inspite of all their wealth or fame, are simple at heart and prefer to lead a simple lifestyle ? Read on, to find out more !

==Lifestyles of the Rich, Famous and Simple==

Warren Buffet is best known as the most successful businessman who recently toppled Bill gates to claim the crown as the world’s richest person, and his net worth is estimated to be to the tune of $40 billion. Yet in terms of lifestyle, he is frugal and simple ! For instance, he still lives in the same small 3 bedroom house in mid-town Omaha that he bought after he got married 50 years ago. He says that he has everything he needs in that house. He dresses up in normal clothes instead of big brand names. He drives his own car everywhere and does not have a driver or security people around him. He says, in an interview with students from a Business School “I just naturally want to do things that make sense. In my personal life too, I don’t care what other rich people are doing. I don’t want a 405 foot boat just because someone else has a 400 foot boat.”

Narayana Murthy, who is one of the founders of “Infosys”, a giant corporate in the IT space, leads a simple lifestyle that quite contradicts his position in the corporate world! He still lives in the same two bedroom, sparsely furnished house that he used to live in before Infosys became a success. His family does their house keeping by themselves, and do not have servants!

Many other famous personalities such as Dr. Abdul Kalam (former President of India) and Gandhi (Former freedom fighter) are known for their simplicity as well as their strength of character and selfless mindset.

It is refreshing to hear of the unwillingness of such personalities to make a scene of being rich or famous.  Its easy not to flash our cash when we have none, but it takes focus and a strong purpose to practise self restraint in spite of being rich.

The refusal of such personalities to pursue an “I get what I want” existence – the hallmark of modern society – is refreshing to hear. At a time when crass greed masquerades as simple ambition and frugal habits are frowned upon, such reticence has few parallels.

==Pitfalls of Over Indulgence in Luxuries==
Leading a high end, luxury filled life has its own set of pitfalls. People end up having the overhead of maintaining and protecting all the luxury assets (such as posh bungalows, high end cars, etc) that get accumulated over a period of time, and are often caught in the wrong foot once bad times (such as recession) set in. We then end up restricting our scope for happiness as we measure our self worth based on unnecessary possessions that clutter our houses as well as our minds. We then make ourselves vulnerable to a host of negative emotions such as greed and then anger, frustration and depression when we don’t get what we want, not to mention the envy when we are compared with others in our social circle.  A deep sense of insecurity crops up, with changing market conditions, twisting political fortunes and crashing stock markets. These fears provoke men to abandon all moral scruples and time honored spiritual values, creating a dog-eat-dog world. Recent examples such as the bickering within the Ambani Family and the Satyam scam speak volumes about the sorry state of affairs.

Many people who have indulged in a luxurious lifestyle have typically fallen into the trap of compulsive buying, instant gratification and uncontrolled greed for wealth and power. Some of them, such as Vijay Mallya (the promoter of Kingfisher group) have got themselves neck deep into debt. Vijay Mallya is well known for fuelling his flamboyant lifestyle by dipping into the revenues of his company which is now faced with an outstanding debt of more than Rs. 6000 crore, and is now almost at the point of selling off his company !

There are extreme cases like that of Saddam Hussein and Hitler whose extreme greed for wealth and power led them to wage unnecessary wars and ultimately invited their own destruction. There are also cases like that of Ramalinga Raju (founder of Satyam Computers) whose greed for wealth pushed him into corporate frauds and landed him into prison.  Besides, there are many well employed professionals who indulged in luxurious lifestyles, and over leveraged themselves financially (in terms of huge loans on car and property, and credit card usage) and were caught unawares when recession took away their jobs or cut into their salaries. Such are the results of succumbing to the cravings of the mind, which the simplistic lifestyle people (such as Warren Buffet) are spared from!

==The restless nature of the mind==
We may fulfill our desires, but our mind remains dissatisfied. Mr. Buffet and other rare persons of his ilk are fortunate to be spared the screaming wants of the mind. The human mind is fickle and, if let loose, knows no peace. As we unleash our passion to acquire the various pleasures, the mind points out the unattained delights. And the more elusive they are, the greater the passion to possess them. The enjoyment of all such things follows the law of diminishing marginal returns: Each successive pleasure derived from an object or person reduces our taste for that pleasure. A drastic gap occurs between the expectation of pleasure and the enjoyment experienced. To fill the gap, the mind desperately urges us to spend more, buy more, and go wild. In the ensuing race for happiness, the mind’s demands remain eternally unfulfilled. It is like scratching an itch: The momentary relief is accompanied by a greater itch, and the more you scratch, the more you itch. Repeated scratching causes only pain and bleeding. The mind’s nature is to either like or dislike (accept or reject) whatever we survey around us. This ensures that we are constantly oscillating between happiness and distress.

==Lifestyle Alternatives for a peaceful mind==
“He who is content is rich”, said the wise Lao Tzu. Voluntary simplicity essentially helps us think clearly and results in a deliberate organization of life for a purpose, while getting rid of the unnecessary clutter, externally as well as internally. A simple lifestyle spares us of a lot of anxieties as there are lesser assets to maintain and safeguard. It allows us an opportunity to enjoy and be grateful for what we already possess, and to take a break and ponder over the higher purpose of our existence and fill our minds with positive emotions.
Love is a powerful, positive emotion. When we lead a life centered around prayer, love and service to God and humanity, we are filled with serenity. The petty wrangling of the restless mind to “get what I want, when I want” is replaced by a desire to improve the quality of our offerings and service to God and other fellow beings.
There have been cases of many people who have successfully led such a peaceful and serene life, and even managed to kick of addictive habits such as drugs, alcohol and illicit sex.

 

==The Vedic Observer==
The Vedic Scriptures extol the value of not artificially increasing one’s wants.

īśāvāsyam idam sarvam
yat kiñca jagatyām jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā
mā grdhah kasya svid dhanam

“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.” (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 1).

When we recognize the proprietorship of the Supreme Lord and contribute our little worth towards ensuring that the needs of all are taken care of, we lead a life of responsibility, peace and renunciation as, in the process, we renounce the deep rooted conception that we are the ultimate enjoyers and proprietors.

If we find a wallet filled with loads of money, we have three choices: The first is to keep it for ourselves, the second is to leave it as it is (understanding that we are not the owner of the wallet), and the third is to find the rightful proprietor of the wallet and return it to him.

The second choice is similar to an intelligent philosopher who renounces worldly enjoyments, but the third choice (and the ideal choice) takes renunciation a step further and symbolizes a person who recognizes the rightful proprietorship of the Supreme Lord and uses everything in his service, which subsequently also benefits mankind. An example is that of many volunteers who distributed sanctified and spiritualized food (food offered to God as an expression of love and gratitude) to the victims of natural calamities such as the earth quake in Gujarat and the tsunami in southern India and Sri Lanka.

Thus, the great personalities mentioned above could take his renunciation a step higher and set a wonderful example for the world to learn from and emulate!

Authored by [[Author#vivek_d|Vivek Devarajan]]

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Reasons behind Spiralling Crime Rates


=Introduction=

Open any news paper or tune in to a News Channel, and you can be pretty sure to stumble upon crimes of all sorts, ranging from petty thefts to dacoity, murder, terrorism, sexual crimes and the like.

The Statistics show that the miscreants have been quite focused and determined at their “jobs”. In India, for instance, as per the National Crime Records Bureau, incidences of crime since the early days of independence has gone up by more than 5 times, and this of course excludes the large number of unreported crimes, especially related to smaller thefts, crime against women and the many cases where the police just “refuse” to file an FIR. The western countries aren’t any better off either, with the UK recording an average of more than 2 violent attacks every minute (a very high figure for such a small country) and the US, which has the highest incarceration (imprisonment) rate in the world!

= Root Causes for Increasing Crime Rates =

To a certain extent, poverty and unemployment do have their contributions to the increasing crime rates. However, it is not easy to explain away most of the crimes purely based on such simplistic reasoning. Here we examine some of the root causes behind rising crime rates and examine possible solutions for addressing the root causes.

==Incomplete Education System==

The modern university education is focused primarily on providing extensive “Information” and “Data”, the sole purpose of which is to equip students to earn their livelihood. Thus, higher aspects of education, such as personality development, value inculcation and self discovery are often ignored. With the focus purely on materialistic achievements, people are tempted to employ unfair means to achieve the desired objective. This mentality, if extended further, can easily lead one to cheat and subsequently graduate into white collar crimes, such as fraud, forgery and false pretences. The financial impact of such crimes has been in the range of billions of dollars, according to the “International symposium of crime”. The recent “Satyam Scam” is only one among the many such examples.

==A Superficial Culture==

A superficial materialistic culture that focuses on “What we possess” rather than “What we really are” is largely responsible for misdirecting the masses. Beguiled by an endless array of ads, slogans and culture trends prompting us to switch to a high end luxurious lifestyle that we don’t need and can hardly afford, we are gripped with desire and then with frustration and dismay when we either fail to achieve this, or if they fail to satisfy us. Hence we see spiralling statistics of depression, as well as a concomitant upsurge in use of alcohol and drugs, big time contributors to crime. Because “having more” becomes the criteria for success and happiness, we will generally stop at little to get more, including breaking the odd law or two if we can get away with it.

==Dubious Scientific Theories==

Many modern theories that were floated around for the purpose of explaining the origin of the universe and the living beings, are primarily reductionist in nature, attributing the functioning of everything on the basis of elementary particles and molecules. Referring to a living being as merely a bag of chemicals breeds a destructive mentality: “why can I not destroy a particular lump of chemicals if it obstructs my path to success?”. Darwin’s evolution suggests that life is a “Struggle for Existence” where the strong win the struggle and the weak gradually become extinct. Such theories, in spite of being rejected by eminent scientists, have found their way into the academic text books, thus feeding generations of naive students with such perverted conceptions, which infact served as breeding grounds for racism, fascism, colonization, slavery, and even world wars!

==Lack of proper Role Models==
This has become a perennial issue in our society. The famous and powerful personalities in our society (such as the industrial tycoons, politicians and cinema stars) leave much to be desired in terms of their ideals. Most of them are involved either in corporate frauds, market manipulations, flouting land acquisition norms, sex scandals, land scams or have connections with the underworld dons. Yet such personalities mostly get away with all of this, and moreover seem to get whatever they want, in terms of wealth, fame or followers. Some of them privately even sneer and scoff at people who try to stick to moral and ethical values, while simultaneously maintaining the opposite stand in front of the public. However, common people easily see through this farce and this sets a wrong example for the others who eventually lose their motivation to follow any sort of values and eventually start feeling that it is “ok” to breaking the rules the in order to make it “big” in life, as long as they are not caught.

==Ineffective Law and Order System==
It is well known that many of the people responsible for law enforcement themselves are often hand in glove with criminals for making some quick gains by underhand means. Even otherwise, they are not too keen on nabbing the culprits unless the crimes are of larger magnitude. This sluggish attitude from the law enforcers encourages the criminals in their nefarious activities.

==Alcoholism and Drugs==
Alcohol and drug consumption affects the mind and impairs judgement and rational thinking, causing an individual to lose control over his inhibitions and act on impulse. This has been a big time contributor to crime worldwide. For instance, the US department of Justice reports that 40% of the crimes involved alcohol abuse and upto 87% of the people arrested in urban areas tested positive for drugs!

== Television ==
The television has a powerful influence, especially on the impressionable children and youth. Research studies have shown that children who grew up watching violence depicted on television exhibit aggressive behavior patterns. This is even reflected in their “play time”, where they act out violent scenarios, brandishing toy weapons, and screaming words such as “I am gonna kill you!”. By the time they grow into adolescence, they are like time bombs, ready to explode with all the violence they have been seeing on television. Generally, movies shown on television glorify all acts performed by the movie heroes. However, in recent times, it has been observed that the scope of these “heroic” acts has broadened to include many unacceptable acts such as flirting, occasional misbehavior, alcohol indulgence, and occasional rowdyism or hooliganism. All this used to be portrayed as strictly “evil or bad” in the earlier times, but recently, all this is getting portrayed as “acceptable behavior” by the movies, thus misleading the impressionable youth and children. Even adults are not spared from the influence, thanks to the mind programming techniques (such as subliminal effects) that most television ads and shows employ.

= Prison Houses: How effective are they? =
The general opinion among people is that tougher prison sentences would act as a deterrent for the criminals. However, statistics show that some 60% of the prisoners re-offend within two years of their release. The reasons are not hard to understand. The Prison is an excellent place for the criminals to meet other like minded criminal people and learn a few new tricks of the trade. The ancient Vedic Scriptures point out how our consciousness is shaped by our association, which in prisons is hardly of the best kind. Seeing this fact, David Waddington, a former home secretary in the UK, said in a government paper, “Prison is an expensive way of making bad people worse”. Though training and rehabilitation courses aim at rectifying the prisoners, and have been helpful in some cases, the statistics seem to indicate that they are not enough.

=The Vedic Observer=
The Vedic Education Model was holistic and dwell into higher dimensions of knowledge encompassing spirituality, self discovery, soul, Karma, Reincarnation, etc. The Vedic texts assert unequivocally that morality has to be founded on spirituality; otherwise it soon becomes a mere lip service. Unless one has an understanding of God as the supreme controller, there is nothing to impel him to stick to morality in his pursuit of pleasure. If a person has no understanding of higher laws of nature such as Karma, Re-Incarnation and of his identity as an eternal soul, then it would be natural enough for him to think that he could do anything he pleased and get away with it, provided he did it cleverly enough. Thus, moral education founded on spirituality can install the right values in people and make them disinclined to commit crimes. Occupational Education (required for maintaining oneself) can be imparted, but with an undercurrent of understanding that life has a higher (spiritual) purpose as well.

Scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita explain the various modes of material nature that affect our minds such as the mode of goodness (sattva guna), mode of passion (rajo guna) and the mode of ignorance (tamo guna). We usually act under a mixture of these 3 modes in various proportions at various times. People influenced predominantly by the mode of goodness are very less likely to commit crimes, whereas people in the modes of passion and especially ignorance (alcoholics, for example) are more likely to commit crimes. Scriptures have prescribed many activities that enable an individual to come into the mode of goodness and go even beyond that. These activities include having specified types of food, performing specified types of worship or giving specified types of charity.

All these activities make us peaceful and help bringing out the goodness in us. They also help in keeping negative qualities (such as lust, anger, greed, envy, etc) at bay. We are all intrinsically good, being parts of the supreme good, or God. We just need to revive our original spiritual nature and the goodness will emerge. This is done by curing the “material infection” that leads to crime. Recital of specific mantras or having spiritually sanctified food are some of the activities that help in this curing process.

In the recent times, spiritual organizations have been working more closely with Prison Inmates, with adequate support from prison authorities, for conducting workshops based on spiritual values, Self Discovery, Mantra recitations from vedic scriptures, and personal counselling. All this has caused a considerable transformation in the lives of the inmates, many of whom have given up their bad ways and bad habits for good!

Hence, controlling crimes is more to do with training and transforming people and cultures rather than making punishments more stringent.

Authored by [[Author#Vivek|Vivek Devarajan]]

Sky Rocketing Food Prices – Why?


= Sky Rocketing Food Prices =
== Introduction ==
High Food Prices – A phenomenon that impacts our everyday lives significantly, by eating away into our monthly budgets. We frequently get a taste of this, when we have our regular squabbles with the neighborhood vegetable vendor over the prices, or when we visit the grocery store.

Now for some number crunching – Rice, which used to cost around Rs. 18 per kg one and half years ago, now costs more than Rs. 30 per Kg (a 60% increase) . Toor Dal, which used to cost around Rs 35 per Kg, now almost costs Rs. 100 per Kg (a 3-fold increase). Sugar, which used to cost Rs. 25 per kg just a few months ago, now costs Rs. 36 per kg (a 50% increase in just a few months).

Most of us just trudge along, accepting this as a hard fact of our daily lives. It is all the more worse for the vast lower-middle class, for whom inflated food prices is yet another of the many hoops to jump through in order to survive.

Deficient monsoons this year has been a major cause of high food prices. However, food prices have shown a marked rise (increase in prices of rice is a classic example) in the last one and half years, much before India was plagued by Monsoon Deficit.

Here, we examine some more root causes of food price inflation and explore some possible solutions for the same:-

== Root Causes of High Food Prices ==

=== Ineffective Inflation Tracking Mechanisms ===
Inflation indicates the rise in price of a basket of commodities on a point-to-point basis (usually year to year basis). It basically indicates the quantum of increase in the cost of living over a period of one year.

To calculate inflation, the wholesale prices of the identified commodities are collected and a weighted average of those commodities is computed to arrive at the Wholesale Price Index (WPI). Around 400+ commodities that includes the prices of food items, manufactured goods, raw industrial materials (such as iron, copper, steel, etc), fuel and power, constitute the WPI. Whenever this weighted average figure exceeds 5% on a Year to year basis, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which usually tracks the WPI takes action and increases interest rates for money lending (this sucks out excess liquidity from the system and helps bring the commodity prices down).

Problems with this inflation tracking methodology – The weightage for manufactured goods is more than 60% whereas food and agriculture products have a weightage of less than 25% in the WPI. Hence a rise in the food prices will not attract much action from the RBI, unless it is accompanied by a significant increase in prices of other manufacturing goods and commodities. Other commodities have their own up and down cycles, but food prices remain persistently high.

Also, the wholesale prices do not factor in the additional retailer margins, transportation costs and other taxes, which are reflected in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Unfortunately the benchmark followed by the government is the WPI and not the CPI.

”’The Inflation Paradox:”’ The Inflation figure (as indicated by the WPI) is currently very low (1.5%), however, as we all know, the food prices have risen by as much as 50% over the last two years!

So, while the government proudly proclaims over the roof tops that inflation figures are ‘low’, these ‘low’ figures are somewhat a cruel paradox for the common man who sees no respite from rising food prices

=== Skewed Government Policies and Priorities ===
It is a known fact that the government has favored progress in Industrial and Service Sectors while neglecting agriculture and meting out step-motherly treatment to the farmers who feed the nation. Most of the economic development policies have a distinct ‘urban’ bias, serving the interests of a selected small percentage of the (urban) population.

Most corrupt politicians are hand in glove with the super rich industrial bigwigs and have no qualms about snatching fertile agricultural land from farmers and awarding them to the corporate tycoons at a throw away prices. Thus, the farmers never get a fair price for their lands and are merely paid a pittance.

The SEZ Act (read ‘Plot’): Adding to the farmers’ cup of woes is the government’s SEZ (Special Economic Zone) act that allows the government to acquire land for setting up export processing zones, industries and service companies and giving them tax breaks. 75% of the land identified for SEZ operations is agricultural land.

The SEZ act has a provision for a unique “Single Window Clearance” system that does not require the proposed projects to undergo clearances from the environmental boards, local panchayats, etc, and does not even require stating the purpose of the project to the relevant stakeholders (farmers). This leaves no scope of legal objection from anyone and removes the need to be more transparent!

Earlier laws and acts dealing with land acquisition needed proper justification to be given by the government (such as using the land for building public utilities like sewerages, tanks, roads, etc), but this is not the case with the SEZ act that also allows ‘private enterprises’ to be set up in the acquired land. Now it is anybody’s guess as to the hidden agenda behind introducing the SEZ act, under the garb of ‘economic development’.

The farmers are then offered employment as laborers or watchmen and exploited in the same land that they once used to own! The SEZ act does result in good employment to a few educated engineers and executives, but repeated recessions are making us painfully realize that the ‘agriculture sector’ clearly scores over the industrial and service sectors with respect to providing sustained employment.

Another problem faced by farmers is that most state federations and middle-men in the food chain pay them very low prices for their produce, whereas the input costs needed for irrigation infrastructure, fertilizers, pesticides, etc are not so low. Sometimes, farmers are not paid their dues at all by the government. A classic example of this is the plight of the sugarcane farmers in India recently.

The bitter story behind high sugar prices: In Uttar Pradesh alone, the government owed Rs. 1500 Crores to farmers for the sugarcane delivered by them to the state run sugar mills, at the start of the 2007-08 crushing season. Frustrated farmers then cut down their production of cane and instead sold the cane to jaggery mills. Thus, the sugar mills faced a ‘shortage of sugar’ leading to skyrocketing sugar prices (a 50% increase in just a few months).

All of this has led frustrated farmers to sink into deep debt and subsequently commit suicide or move to the cities in search of alternative employment. Some of them try switching to cash crops (such as Cotton, Tobacco, Coffee) with the hopes of clearing off their debts. All of this has led to lower production of Food Crops and increased food prices.

Did you know? India imports millions of tones of food grains (mostly wheat) frequently whenever food prices become uncontrollable. On one hand they snatch away fertile land from farmers for industrial development, and on the other hand they import food grains to tackle the shortage. A big irony, indeed!

=== High Transportation Costs ===
Increased migration of people to urban areas creates a need of transporting the food grains from farms to far away cities. Any increase in the prices of petrol or the cost of creating supporting infrastructure (such as roads) gets factored into the prices of food grains, ensuring that the urban folks like us shell out that much more for food.

Another culprit behind the high transportation costs is our ‘industry oriented’ economy which is extremely capital intensive, resource intensive as well as labor intensive. This is because any given industry depends on a lot of allied industries such as mining of raw materials (iron, coal), secondary raw material production (steel, cement), power generation (thermal, hydropower, etc), power equipment manufacture (turbines, windmills), industrial equipment manufacture (machinery), infrastructure creation (roads, bridges), construction (buildings, factories), etc. The list goes on and on, and all these industries are heavily dependant on one another. It is not possible to manufacture these things locally, and all this creates a need to have factories flung across many parts of the country based on availability of land, labor and raw materials. This in turn pushes up transportation costs as labor, raw materials and finished goods need to be transported across different parts of the country. Subsequently the food transportation costs also go up, thus, pushing up food prices.

The government does provide benefits to farmers occasionally, but that is only when elections are round the corner, for garnering votes from them. An example of this was when the government announced waivers for farmers’ loans during the budget of 2008, with an eye on the elections in 2009. Also, the subsidies provided by government to farmers mostly benefit either cash crop farming (which in turn will provide raw material for big corporates at cheaper prices), or the small percentage of large scale farmers, who have more access to irrigation facilities and are in possession of large tracts of high quality land, thus leaving the majority of the small time farmers in the lurch.

=== Hoarding, Black Marketing and Speculation ===
Any ‘anticipated’ shortage of food grains sets a panic wave into motion amongst the people. Many unscrupulous godown owners, merchants and even corporates try to hoard (buy) huge quantities of food grains before the prices rise. Powerful corporate houses have access to huge funds from NBFCs (Non Banking Finance Corporations) that aids them in their hoarding activities. This hoarding leads to increase in prices.

Many ration shops (which are supposed to provide food grains to the poor at subsidized prices, sponsored by the government), hoard most of the food grains and sell them in the black market at high prices, and the poor don’t get the food grains entitled to them.

Speculators sometimes ‘anticipate’ huge increases in prices of commodities such as wheat or corn, and buy huge quantities of futures contracts in these commodities in Commodity Exchanges, in order to profit from the price increase. This unnecessarily pushes up the food grain prices, and the sad part is that this is not even because of excessive consumption (which atleast serves to feed some people). This is purely because of speculation (read “gambling”) that is manipulating the prices, and depriving so many other poor people of their due.

Did you know? Wheat prices in US increased by 46 per cent between January 10 and February 26 2008, purely because of speculation in the commodities markets! Such wild swings cannot be explained purely based on the fundamental “demand and supply” factors.

== Possible Solutions for high food prices ==

=== Agricultural policy ===
# Encouraging agriculture and focus more on food crops instead of cash crops
# Ensuring that existing farmers get a fair price for their produce
# Providing excellent irrigation infrastructure
# Stop acquiring fertile agricultural land for industrial purposes, and acquire barren land instead

=== Setting up Farming Communities ===
Farm communities centered around sustained organic agriculture and dairy farming can be built for producing enough food grains, vegetables and dairy products. A self-sufficiency based model is a key to the success of these communities. Such a model will reduce dependency on the “Petroleum Based” economy and will serve to insulate people from the fluctuating prices of Crude Oil as well as Industrial Commodities such as Iron, Copper, etc. This will also reduce dependency on capital intensive High End Infrastructure, Machinery, raw material procurements and transportation, thus bring down investments drastically while ensuring a steady income from selling the farm produce. Most importantly, the residents would be protected from inflating food prices, and would never have to go hungry!

There are many successful farm communities run by spiritual institutions, missionaries, and welfare groups in India, US, Europe and Australia that are successfully practicing the simple mantra of self sufficiency!

=== Good Irrigation Infrastructure ===
This will help in combating monsoon deficit. Pipelines and bunds can be built for carrying water from rivers, streams and estuaries to the farms. Watershed development activities can be carried out for conserving water.

There are case studies of a few villages in Maharashtra (India) which have already built a good irrigation setup, leveraging on the rivers and streams in the forest with the help of an almost 10,000 feet pipeline, and watersheds, thus achieving self sufficiency!

=== Usage of Natural, Low Cost Manures ===
Usage of natural manures such as cattle dung, crop residues, biological wastes, neem, decayed vegetable matter, etc is much cheaper and also has many advantages such as soil enrichment, aeration, improving water holding capacity and simulate micro-organism activities that make plant food. This reduces the dependency on expensive fertilizers and helps bringing down food prices.

== The Vedic Observer ==
Interestingly, the Srimad Bhagavatam (a Vedic Text) incidentally predicts a huge food shortage in the future [http://vedabase.net/sb/12/2/9 Verse 12.2.9] :-

śāka-mūlāmisa-ksaudra-
phala-puspāsti-bhojanāh
anāvrstyā vinańksyanti
durbhiksa-kara-pīditāh

“Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completely ruined.” So these are times when we shall see imposed artificial life styles driven by destructive methodologies of our policies.

Economies in the Vedic times were run on a model predominantly based on Localized Production. This means that each town or set of towns produced their needs locally from nearby forests, natural resources and cattle by-products. Food was grown in local farms. This closely resembles the “farm community” model described above.

This optimal model has very low dependence on scarce and depleting resources such as petroleum products, coal, copper, iron, etc, and hence, we don’t end up paying extra to cover up for high transportation costs, mining, power, infrastructure, machinery, etc which eventually get factored into the prices.

Thus, the common man was spared from paying through the nose for basic necessities such as food and water, as most of the food was anyway produced locally.

Quite contrary to popular modern beliefs, the people of the Vedic Era (especially the brahmanas and the kings) were highly intelligent and had scientific and practical understanding of the higher laws governing the functioning of nature (such as the law of karma) described in the Vedas. By virtue of this, they understood the dangerous consequences of exploiting nature for satisfying ones own greed, and accordingly aligned their lifestyles, society and economies to function in harmony with nature.

All this, in turn, ensured that their needs would be abundantly supplied by nature. No wonder, inflated pricing was a rare phenomenon in the Vedic Era. DO we have better days ahead.

Authored by [[Author#vivek_d|Vivek Devarajan]]

The scourge of consumptive culture


== Introduction ==
Americans and Western Europeans have had a lock on unsustainable over-consumption for decades. But now developing countries are catching up rapidly, to the detriment of the environment, health, and happiness,according to the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington D.C.-based research organization focuses this year on consumerism run amuck.

Approximately 1.7 billion people worldwide now belong to the “consumer class”—the group of people characterized by diets of highly processed food, desire for bigger houses, more and bigger cars, higher levels of debt, and lifestyles devoted to the accumulation of non-essential goods.

Today nearly half of global consumers reside in developing countries, including 240 million in China and 120 million in India—markets with the most potential for expansion.

“Rising consumption has helped meet basic needs and create jobs,” Christopher Flavin, president of Worldwatch Institute said in a statement to the press. “But as we enter a new century, this unprecedented consumer appetite is undermining the natural systems we all depend on, and making it even harder for the world’s poor to meet their basic needs.”

The report addresses the devastating toll on the Earth’s water supplies, natural resources, and ecosystems exacted by a plethora of disposable cameras, plastic garbage bags, and other cheaply made goods with built in product-obsolescence, and cheaply made manufactured goods that lead to a “throw away” mentality.

“Most of the environmental issues we see today can be linked to consumption,” said Gary Gardner, director of research for Worldwatch. “As just one small example, there was a story in the newspaper just the other day saying that 37 percent of species could become extinct due to climate change, which is very directly related to consumption.”

And yet another disturbing trend according the reports from World Bank is that the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption, while the poorest 5% just 1.5%. This stark inequality in consumption is widening the distance between the have’s and have-nots. while the one become exploiters and others exploited or shall we call big munchers and small nibblers.

== From Luxuries to Necessities ==

Globalization is a driving factor in making goods and services previously out of reach in developing countries much more available. Items that at one point in time were considered luxuries—televisions, cell phones, computers, air conditioning—are now viewed as necessities.

China provides a snapshot of changing realities. For years, the streets of China’s major cities were characterized by a virtual sea of people on bicycles, and 25 years ago there were barely any private cars in China. By 2000, 5 million cars moved people and goods; the number is expected to reach 24 million by the end of next year.

In the United States, there are more cars on the road than licensed drivers. Increased reliance on automobiles means more pollution, more traffic, more use of fossil fuels. Cars and other forms of transportation account for nearly 30 percent of world energy use and 95 percent of global oil consumption.

Changing diet, with a growing emphasis on meat, illustrates the environmental and societal toll exacted by unbridled consumption. To provide enough beef, chicken, and pork to meet the demand, the livestock industry has moved to factory farming. Producing eight ounces of beef requires 6,600 gallons (25,000 liters) of water; 95 percent of world soybean crops are consumed by farm animals, and 16 percent of the world’s methane, a destructive greenhouse gas, is produced by belching, flatulent livestock. The enormous quantities of manure produced at factory farms becomes toxic waste rather than fertilizer, and runoff threatens nearby streams, bays, and estuaries.

Chickens at a typical farm are kept in cages with about nine square inches (about 60 square centimeters) of space per bird. To force them to lay more eggs, they are often starved. Chickens slaughtered for meat are first fattened up with hormones, sometimes to the point where their legs can no longer support their weight. Crowded conditions can lead to the rapid spread of disease among the animals. To prevent this, antibiotics are included in their feed. The World Health Organization reports that the widespread use of these drugs in the livestock industry is helping breed antibiotic-resistant microbes, complicating the treatment of disease in both animals and people.

The World Bank has also rethought its policy of funding livestock factory farming. In 2001, a World Bank report concluded “there is a significant danger that the poor are being crowded out, the environment eroded, and global food safety and security threatened.”

== Not Much Happier ==

The increase in prosperity is not making humans happier or healthier, according to several studies. Findings from a survey of life satisfaction in more than 65 countries indicate that income and happiness tend to track well until about $13,000 of annual income per person (in 1995 dollars). After that, additional income appears to produce only modest increments in self-reported happiness.

Increased consumerism evidently comes at a steep price. People are incurring debt and working longer hours to pay for the high-consumption lifestyle, consequently spending less time with family, friends, and community organizations. “Excess consumption can be counterproductive,” said Gardner. “The irony is that lower levels of consumption can actually cure some of these problems.”

Diets of highly processed food and the sedentary lifestyle that goes with heavy reliance on automobiles have led to a worldwide epidemic of obesity. In the United States, an estimated 65 percent of adults are overweight or obese, and the country has the highest rate of obesity among teenagers in the world. Soaring rates of heart disease and diabetes, surging health care costs, and a lower quality of day-to-day life are the result.

Some aspects of rampant consumerism have resulted in startling anomalies. Worldwatch reports that worldwide annual expenditures for cosmetics total U.S. $18 billion; the estimate for annual expenditures required to eliminate hunger and malnutrition is $19 billion. Expenditures on pet food in the United States and Europe total $17 billion a year; the estimated cost of immunizing every child, providing clean drinking water for all, and achieving universal literacy is $16.3 billion.

There is, of course, no easy solution to the problem. But first and foremost we need to reorient our way of thinking, says Gardner.”The goal is to focus not so much on sacrifice, but on how to provide a higher quality of life using the lowest amount of raw materials,” he said. “We need to change the way we produce goods and the way we consume them.”

== How consumerism affects society and the Environment ==

Consumerism is economically manifested in the chronic purchasing of new goods and services, with little attention to their true need, durability, product origin or the environmental consequences of manufacture and disposal. Consumerism is driven by huge sums spent on advertising designed to create both a desire to follow trends, and the resultant personal self-reward system based on acquisition. Materialism is one of the end results of consumerism.

Consumerism interferes with the workings of society by replacing the normal common-sense desire for an adequate supply of life’s necessities, community life, a stable family and healthy relationships with an artificial ongoing and insatiable quest for things and the money to buy them with little regard for the true utility of what is bought. An intended consequence of this, promoted by those who profit from consumerism, is to accelerate the discarding of the old, either because of lack of durability or a change in fashion.

Landfills swell with cheap discarded products that fail early and cannot be repaired. Products are made psychologically obsolete long before they actually wear out. A generation is growing up without knowing what quality goods are. Friendship, family ties and personal autonomy are only promoted as a vehicle for gift giving and the rationale for the selection of communication services and personal acquisition. Everything becomes mediated through the spending of money on goods and services.

It is an often stated catechism that the economy would improve if people just bought more things, bought more cars and spent more money. Financial resources better spent on Social Capital such as education, nutrition, housing etc. are spent on products of dubious value and little social return. In addition, the purchaser is robbed by the high price of new things, the cost of the credit to buy them, and the less obvious expenses such as, in the case of automobiles, increased registration, insurance, repair and maintenance costs.

We shouldn’t allow this or anything like this happen. Things may be starting to turn around in our favor. But it takes work and time and attention to details and a willingness to try new things for our own and our the next generation’s benefit. There are serious changes ahead. We can control some of these for our benefit or we can just react to them after they have happened.

Simply stated, there’s a lot of money being made and a lot of power being gathered by the people that promote consumerism. You pay for it in gradually limited economic mobility, pollution, threats to your health and a declining standard of living, as measured by the things that really matter.

In addition to the everyday things that you can do, there are concepts that need to be discussed and not just in a trite way. The mantra “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” is pregnant with meaning, and reflects worthwhile goals, but it hardly contains solutions to the real integral problems of the world.

== Vedic Observer ==
Malls have replaced parks, temples and community gatherings for many who no longer even take the trouble to meet their neighbors or care to know their names. People move frequently as though neighborhoods and cities were products to be tried out like brands of deodorant. Consumerism sets each person against themself in an endless quest for the attainment of material things or the imaginary world conjured up and made possible by things yet to be purchased.

Indian ethos have always stood for simple living and high thinking. Lord Krishna recommends in [http://vedabase.net/bg/4/22 BG 4.22] how one should not endeavor more than required rather focus his endeavors in side in the pursuit of the self. So does Isoupanishad which riterates the need for being contended. There are numerous examples of extravagance in puranas but all of them have a strong undercurrent of renunciation. Take for example the story of Saubhari Muni who created an opulent city filled with human pleasurables and yet he renounced it once and for all. Sage Vasishta could create a opulent palace filled with heavenly pleasures by the dint of his spiritual prowess but he himself lived in his hermitage.

The world will have sustainable and balanced progress only if we recognize that it is not an object of exploitation rather an wonderful boon bestowed by the creator in our care. Then sense will prevail. To conclude in the words of Mahatma Gandhi “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed”.

== References ==
#[http://www.storyofstuff.com/pdfs/annie_leonard_facts.pdf Startling facts of Consumerism]

#[http://www.globalissues.org/issue/235/consumption-and-consumerism Global Issue of Consumerism]

[[Author#Lndasa|L Narasimha Rao]]

Bharat or India, what’s in the name?


== Bharat versus India ==
You might know that India is sometimes referred by a lesser known name ”Bharat”.Is there any difference in how we call the country. How does it make a difference anyway? Lets examine the etymology of these words.

According to Bhagavatha Purana, this country became to be known as Bharat because it was ruled by an illustrious king ”Bharata” the son of Maharaj Rishabha. King Bharata ruled the entire ”Bharata varsha” which in vedic connotation refers to the entire world inhabited by humans. And the word ”India” is an anglicised corruption of the word Hindustan meaning ”The place of Hindus”.

Its intriguing when you compare these two names because one signifies the entire world and other a contemporary place inhabited by ”Hindus” but shrunk in size by the history. The word ”Bharat” signifies a rich culture and heritage patronised by a lineage of great kings like ”Bharata”. Its also interesting to note that the word ”Hindu” is not a native word either, it’s a persian corruption of the word Indu better known as ”Indus” the river. The persians and arabs referred the people on the other side of the river Indus as Hindus. So as you see it makes a lot of difference. When we refer the country as Bharat we refer to a great civilization with a great culture and heritage and when we refer it as India it implicitly signifies a country enslaved, colonized and bruised by invasions on cultural and intellectual spheres. Lets analyse more of the contrasting qualities of the India then and now.

==India: Then and Now.==
Murder in school, Suicides due to depression, increasing divorce rates!!!!! these are the common readings in the daily newspapers these days. How did these social ailments seep into Indian society which was for ages known as an emblem of peace, wisdom, prosperity and all such auspicious attributes?

It is high time for Indians to look back into their rich culture of yesteryears and investigate into the cause of today’s self destructive proclivities and put an end to this mad march towards self-destruction before these evil forces consume our great nation.

===Living conditions and health===
In traditional India people lived in a very healthy environment. Clean breathing air, pure and clean water, nourishing fresh foods brimming with life. Life was never stressed out due to excessive work and deadlines. Trust on each other both in personal and financial dealings were common. Regularly reading sacred Vedic Scriptures and a lifestyle based on simple living and high thinking. A highly evolved and scientific branches of learning in the vedic gurukula system being the hallmark.

Today with the advance in science and technology, Indians breathe polluted air, drink contaminated water and eat toxic junk food. Physically and physiologically we are emaciated. Exploit or be exploited seems to be the thumb rule of business. Dealings based on faith have been replaced by complex laws with loop holes favouring the rich and strong. Indians rarely have time to spend on their spiritual and intellectual well being.But they happily gulp down their throat the pseudo scientific knowledge and manipulated history left down by the then imperialist west in their schools and universities.

And what that education has produced is a confused and myopic population who can’t see what is in real good for them. They copy lavish western traits and try to retrofit in their impoverished Indian surroundings. This has led to large scale complexities widening the divide of have and havenots. And most of the times such influence are self destructive when applied beyond limits. A very good example of this is the pop icon Micheal Jackson who in spite of being blessed with immense talents and fortune had to undergo enormous stress and eventually succumbed to host of illness at an early age all because he had to maintain his status as the pop icon. And the result being he had to die a horrible death. All these problems were virtually non – existent in India even fifty years ago. The present day social menaces such as divorce, suicides in huge numbers, cultural degradation, adultery, drug addiction and murders etc amongst youngsters were unheard of.

=== Sustainable life style in Bharat ===
Previously the necessities of life such as food, shelter, clothing, utilities were taken from nature. [[Cow_ protection|Cow Protection]], Cultivation of land and commerce mostly by barter system were the main functions of the vaishyas (productive class of the society). Since the people lived as per the Holy Scriptures, there were abundant rains. There was enough nutritious food for the whole society. Previously a person was considered wealthy if he had grains and gold. ”dhaanyavan dhanavan” as compared to the paper currency which as such has no value on its own.

People travelled in a simple way by bullock carts or horse carriages as they didn’t have a need to travel at monstrous speeds although they had the [[vimanas|technology]] for it. There was no question of air, water and land pollution leading to so many diseases and ailments. And an economy based on non-renewable energy resources and un-sustainable infrastructure.

Now with the introduction of paper currency and manipulated economy, a small section of society is amassing wealth at the cost of starving millions. Previously there was no such thing as economic recession, large scale layoffs etc. People worked hard, ate sumptuously and lived happily with whatever they had.

=== Bharat a center of learning and innovation ===
Our ancestors have left behind a great treasure of knowledge in the fields of mathematics, architecture, astronomy, medical sciences etc. If we explore into this treasure, we can benefit immensely from all that knowledge. Below are a few drops from the vast ocean of the wisdom of India. Here is a list of [[Indian_scientific_contributions|contributions]].

Now with the inclusion of modern education, Indians are gradually becoming aliens in their own culture, they have accepted the anthropological hoax stories such as Darwin’s theory of evolution of human beings from apes.

==Root cause analysis.==
Although in one sense this degradation of culture is pre-destined and [http://vedanase.net/sb/12/2/en predicted] in the scriptures. The factors that influenced the degradation are two. The first being the cultural invasion from the west, a seed successfully sown by the the British that the west is always the best through its education system. In fact just after the independence there was an opportunity to set things right which was squandered by pro-western administrators like Nehru who have ruled India for most of the time. The second being the lack of any curriculum in the education system on their own culture and heritage due to the ”undue” stress on neeed to be secular in Indian democracy. There was a void created in the intellectual space which was duly filled in by the western intelligentsia. And as the interaction of Indians with the outside world has increased, Indians are becoming more and more fascinated and enamored by the western culture which is based on the principle of optimal sense indulgence such as intoxication, free mixing of men and women, merciless killing of mother cow, abortion of human fetus etc. without any consideration of what is permitted and what is prohibited for cultured human society.

==The Vedic Culture in the heart of Bharat==
The vedic culture was centered around leading a happy and meaningful life. The Vedic literatures gives a comprehensive sustainable forumula for ”dharma” (regulated life), ”artha” (economic development), ”kama” (fulfillment of desires) and ultimately ”moksha” (fulfilling the purpose of life). We would be happier, healthier, wiser and ultimately make progressive advancement towards achieving the ultimate goal of live (salvation) if we value and live by the principles of Sanatana dharma which is ”Simple living and High thinking’ centered on cultivation of spiritual knowledge of sacred scriptures such as Srimad Bhagavad-Gita and living by the principles taught therein.

In fact the argument that all these principles donot hold good in this social situation is incorrect because even to this day the Amish community have been maintaining their traditional orthodox social setup.

==Conclusion.==
Hoping that the grass is green on the other side, Indians are giving up their own rich heritage and adopting the western ways of living. But this has only led to so much of misery and chaos both individually and collectively.

Human being is blessed with higher intelligence which should be employed to inquire into higher truths of life. The humans must inquire about the source of creation, maintenance and annihilation of this cosmic manifestation and put forward question such as who am I? Who is God? What is the purpose of my life? How to end the miseries of life such as repeated birth, death, old age and disease (janma, mrityu, jara and vyadhi) etc?

The Santana dharma or what is called the traditional Vedic Indian life was designed in such a way that people could lead a peaceful, happy life with God in the center while they are living and simultaneously prepare themselves for the journey of the soul (who is the actual person) after the death of the temporary and mortal body.

What India should do is to strike a balance between the traditional values and modern techniques and chalk its own path in its quest for advancement.
[[Absolute_Truth:Authors#mgdasa|Chandrasekar Gani]]
[[Absolute_Truth:Authors#lndasa|L Narasimha Rao]]

Effect of Blind Capitalism

== The worst recession ==
The US economy is in doldrums and its having a pinch in the Indian IT industry as well. What has caused it. This has exposed the drawbacks of unprincipled capitalism.

The current global recession is the worst recession in the history even worser than the 1930’s. The current economic crisis has left behind lessons to learn at both the micro and macroeconomic levels. The present day financial markets can be punishing and reversal of fortunes can be dramatic. What compounds the problems are strange accounting practices and high-risk nature of the loans and investments. Please read below the details to get a rough idea of the events that led to today’s economic chaos in USA and the other parts of the world.

== The cause and effect ==
The US government reduced the interest rates for more people to take loans on interest and when it exceeded a limit. The Banks started to feel a pinch and started increasing the rates again and the defaulters who had already invested all the money in thier buissness enterprise, real estate couldn’t pay back. And hence this quagmire.

=== What is a sub-prime loan? ===
•In the US, borrowers are rated either as ‘prime’ – indicating that they have a good credit rating based on their track record – or as ‘sub-prime’, meaning their track record in repaying loans has been below par.
•Loans given to sub-prime borrowers, something banks would normally be reluctant to do, are categorized as sub-prime loans. Typically, it is the poor and the young who form the bulk of sub-prime borrowers.

=== Why loans were given? ===
•In roughly five years leading up to 2007, many banks started giving loans to sub-prime borrowers, typically through subsidiaries. They did so because they believed that the real estate boom, which had more than doubled home prices in the US since 1997, would allow even people with dodgy credit backgrounds to repay on the loans they were taking to buy or build homes. •Government also encouraged lenders to lend to sub-prime borrowers, arguing that this would help even the poor and young to buy houses. •With stock markets booming and the system flush with liquidity, many big fund investors like hedge funds and mutual funds saw sub-prime loan portfolios as attractive investment opportunities. Hence, they bought such portfolios from the original lenders. This in turn meant the lenders had fresh funds to lend. The subprime loan market thus became a fast growing segment.

=== What was the interest rate on sub-prime loans? ===
•Since the risk of default on such loans was higher, the interest rate charged on sub-prime loans was typically about two percentage points higher than the interest on prime loans. This, of course, only added to the risk of sub-prime borrowers defaulting. •The repayment capacity of sub-prime borrowers was in any case doubtful. The higher interest rate additionally meant substantially higher EMIs than for prime borrowers, further raising the risk of default. •Further, lenders devised new instruments to reach out to more sub-prime borrowers. Being flush with funds they were willing to compromise on prudential norms. •In one of the instruments they devised, they asked the borrowers to pay only the interest portion to begin with. The repayment of the principal portion was to start after two years.

=== How did this turn into a crisis? ===
•The housing boom in the US started petering out in 2007. One major reason was that the boom had led to a massive increase in the supply of housing. Thus house prices started falling. This increased the default rate among subprime borrowers, many of whom were no longer able or willing to pay through their nose to buy a house that was declining in value. •Since in home loans in the US, the collateral is typically the home being bought, this increased the supply of houses for sale while lowering the demand, thereby lowering prices even further and setting off a vicious cycle. •That this coincided with a slowdown in the US economy only made matters worse. Estimates are that US housing prices have dropped by almost 50% from their peak in 2006 in some cases. The declining value of the collateral means that lenders are left with less than the value of their loans and hence have to book losses.

=== How did this become a systemic crisis? ===
•One major reason is that the original lenders had further sold their portfolios to other players in the market. There were also complex derivatives developed based on the loan portfolios, which were also sold to other players, some of whom then sold it on further and so on. •As a result, nobody is absolutely sure what the size of the losses will be when the dust ultimately settles down. Nobody is also very sure exactly who will take how much of a hit. It is also important to realize that the crisis has not affected only reckless lenders. •For instance, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which owned or guaranteed more than half of the roughly $12 trillion outstanding in home mortgages in the US, were widely perceived as being more prudent than most in their lending practices. However, the housing bust meant that they too had to suffer losses — $14 billion combined in the last four quarters – because of declining prices for their collateral and increased default rates. •The forced retreat of these two mortgage giants from the market, of course, only adds to every other player’s woes.

=== What has been the impact of the crisis? ===
•Global banks and brokerages have had to write off an estimated $512 billion in sub-prime losses so far, with the largest hits taken by Citigroup ($55.1 bn) and Merrill Lynch ($52.2 bn). A little more than half of these losses, or $260 bn, have been suffered by US-based firms, $227 billion by European firms and a relatively modest $24 bn by Asian ones. Despite efforts by the US Federal Reserve to offer some financial assistance to the beleaguered financial sector, it has led to the collapse of Bear Sterns, one of the world’s largest investment banks and securities trading firm. Bear Sterns was bought out by JP Morgan Chase with some help from the Fedral Govt.

•The crisis has also seen Lehman Brothers – the fourth largest investment bank in the US – file for bankruptcy. Merrill Lynch has been bought out by Bank of America. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have effectively been nationalized to prevent them from going under. •Reports suggest that insurance major AIG (American Insurance Group) is also under severe pressure and has asked for a $40 bn bridge loan to tide over the crisis. If AIG also collapses, that would really test the entire financial sector.

=== How is the rest of the world affected? ===
•Apart from the fact that banks based in other parts of the world also suffered losses from the subprime market, there are two major ways in which the effect is felt across the globe. First, the US is the biggest borrower in the world since most countries hold their foreign exchange reserves in dollars and invest them in US securities. •Thus, any crisis in the US has a direct bearing on other countries, particularly those with large reserves like Japan, China and – to a lesser extent – India. Also, since global equity markets are closely interlinked through institutional investors, any crisis affecting these investors sees a contagion effect throughout the world.

== Vedic Observer ==

=== What caused the chaos? ===
Blind greed for amassing wealth is the culprit for the whole damage. In an overly ambitious venture, the banks lent huge money to people whose financial credibility is questionable. To add to the problem, the value of houses collapsed and the payments were defaulted leading to huge losses that resulted in the insolvency of many financial giants like Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Bear Sterns etc. The Vedic way of monetary transactions.

In the Vedic system, wealth was measured in terms of gold, food grains, land and livestock which are substantial assets. The cultivable land was fertile enriched with minerals obtained from natural manure such as cow dung etc. unlike the modern day toxic fertilizers. The land provided human society with nutritious food and the cows provided milk which can be used to prepare hundreds of nutritious and delicious foods.

The vaishyas or the mercantile class of men took care of cultivation of land, cow protection, commerce etc. this is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita (BG 18.44)
”kṛṣi-go-rakṣya-vāṇijyaḿ / vaiśya-karma svabhāva-jam
paricaryātmakaḿ karma / śūdrasyāpi svabhāva-jam”
Farming, cow protection and business are the natural work for the vaisyas, and for the sudras there is labor and service to others.

There wasn’t much borrowing as everyone was satisfied with whatever he got from his land and cows. The kshatriyas collected taxes and ruled the state under the able guidance of qualified brahmanas who did not accumulate wealth at all. Vaishyas cultivated the land, took care of cows and engaged in commerce while the Shudras served the above three classes (varnas) for which they were paid remuneration. Thus the whole society was self sufficient and happy. As all the classes of the society were satisfied, the whole population was making substantial spiritual progress as only in a content state of mind can spirituality flourish.

There were many scientific ways to builds houses using natural ingredients like stones and mortar etc. In fact the monuments and structures built previously are better planned, stronger, long lasting, and artistic than the modern day ones. In this way all the basic necessities of life like food, clothing, shelter was taken care of. In addition to this we also had the banking system. The excess money was deposited with the local banker. Those who needed wealth used to borrow and pay back with some interest. The borrowing was very rare and only for emergency purposes as the system was self sufficient and took care of the needs of all classes of the society. But it was never like paying huge amounts to “sub-prime borrowers”.

Yes, at times we do need to lend and borrow money, but it is the responsibility on the part of the lender and the borrower to make sure that the borrower is lent money within his limitation and avoid the today like situation. Wealth or money is only a part of our requirement. It is not the “all in all” of human life. If one gets too much engrossed in accumulating wealth, he is likely to miss out on the actual goal of life, which is Self-realisation.

What do we learn from this? Simple Living, High Thinking
The great economic advisors of yesteryears like Canakya Pandita have warned us against borrowing excessive and unnecessary loans. Human life is a rare opportunity provided to the living entity to attain that which he could not attain in other life forms i.e. liberation from material conditioning altogether and reviving our original position as servitors of the Supreme Lord. The Lord has provided enough for the sustenance of all.

As mentioned in the Isopanishad
”īśāvāsyam idam sarvaṁ / yat kiñca jagatyāṁ jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā / mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam”
“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.”

We should just take what we need to sustain ourselves and invest the rest of our time to make steady progress in Krishna consciousness.When one is caught in financial turmoil due to miscalculated investments or borrowings, his life becomes stressful and miserable. Thus he loses his focus on the actual goal of life.

== Conclusion ==
The golden rule is “Simple living, high thinking”.