When Rahul Gandhi mentioned in his speech at CII conference this year that Europe today was facing a hindu growth rate I got highly scandalised. Congress number two, a party where their only saving grace is that they are still secular (or claim to be) has suddenly started to talk about religion and that too amongst some of country’s most respected (or claim to be) businessmen.
I then did what I always do best, I googled. And when I googled the words “Hindu growth rate” I got some weird results. For a while I thought the ‘I am feeling lucky’ option on google has gotten activated automatically and is taking my own side of luck and fortune seriously. But when I went a little deep I realised that this was not some random search gone wrong but actually a discovery that as an economics and religion enthusiast I should have done long long back.
What is Hindu rate of growth, per se?
No it is not the number of hindus added (or subtracted) in a year. And no it is also not the tracking of their intellectual/monetary or education growth. Come to think about it this is the highest form of convergence between economics and religion.
After the independence the distribution of growth rates of economy for various recently independent south east nations looked like this:
The sky rocketing South Korea bar was resonated not by one country but by a group of four, formally known as (only for economics purpose) as the South east asian tigers which are Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. Their highly progressive advancement and development became a stark contrast to the dwindling economy of India which remained at a stable, stagnant 3.5 %. In terms of region or years post freedom all these nations were more or less same yet the incremental performance of the four formed a topic of discussion at many places.
And do there was one economist who then coined the most amazing and holistic term in economics for India called “hindu rate of growth”. This term indicated the low 3 to 3.5 % of growth rate that was visible in Indian economy between 1950 and 1980.
Why term it as hindu growth rate? What had Hindus done wrong to attribute such poor performance to their religion? Actually this was a more popular term given to a research published by an economist at that time. This economist Raj Krishna, elucidated that the very low levels of economy growth in the country was due to the prevalent mindset of the people.
He claimed that since most people in the country are Hindus their ideologies and understanding of life has deeply affected trade and other economy driving elements of the nation.
Many people would roll their eyes and mock his stand. They might even question the point of allowing such a notion to even exist all these years. But then Raj Krishna had his theories backed up. He said that as staunch followers of fatalism most hindus have a deep tendency to run away from everything and anything materialistic (please remember the hindus of that time in all contexts for now).
What exactly is fatalism? Fatalism is actually nothing but a deep belief that almost everything is predestined and all that a human needs to do is follow the trajectory. They proclaimed that man cannot change his destiny and all his deeds have to be rewarded or punished as part of karma.
This thinking evolved most Indians to not attach themselves to the idea of profit making activities. Also since they had to be far far away from materialistic elements too purchasing power was exercised to limited sectors. And so luxury or other not so necessary enjoyments were kept mostly at bay.
This affected trade in all respects and somewhere stablised the economy at a meagre 3.5%.
The economy finally surged up to 6-7% after the liberalisation of India when Manmohan Singh was the finance minister of India. He brought in policies and measures that allowed MNCs to make their base camp here and opened doors for the god fearing Hindus to finally taste what sin feels like.
Moral of the story: when Rahul Gandhi spoke about Europe observing a Hindu growth rate he wasn’t taking about increasing influx of Hindus in their continent but the fact that they are experiencing a 3.5% rate of growth in economy (popularly tagged as Hindu growth rate)
Many people criticise this theory for reasons quite obvious but somewhere personally I feel that this has some ground. Liberalisation as we see it has a lot of benefits but at the same time it has created chunks in our armour.
Next article will be taking Hindu growth rate further and elucidating how we have changed and why?