Human happiness in our Polish, extremely political reality, is fundamentally dependent on external factors. Less than thirty years after the economic change let in western brands, we can easily observe the influence of promoting consumer lifestyle have had on our spirit. After all these years we can attempt to evaluate what we were sold. Unfortunately, most people have bought the consumer philosophy without questioning it and nowadays almost the whole country is immersed in a dream of success. The increase in GDP has raised Poland the top twenty countries in the world, yet I cannot see it translated into people’s happiness. However, more and more people begin to see the nonsense of the rat race towards the economic growth. The media together with politicians advocate the minimum of 5 per cent growth per year, while masses of economic university graduates, instead of creating the growth from the perspective of a well-educated man, sell their lives to large companies for a rarely acceptable minimum wage and choose to live on the breadline. Those who are more canny are lucky enough to get to top corporate positions, yet with the earning hey get they still need to sign a binding agreement to purchase their own, cramped dwelling in a trendy (or not) district in the capital. But hey! It’s the Capital – the centre of economic transformations and the kernel of being programmed onto that mythical capitalistic success. After all, outside the capital and a few other cities, there are no successes, are there? Unless, of course, you are satisfied with a few exceptions to the rule. The inhabitants of the countryside and small towns were the first to leave Poland the moment the boarders were opened. Most of them headed for the UK and it seems that as long as occur economy’s success continues to follow this model, we might become the largest minority in GB, way outnumbering the Hindu people.
Speaking of Hindu people, let me tell you my story – a short report on economic initiatives, which constitute a strong pillar of the Indian idea of growth. Coming back to the concept of happiness and its deeper meaning. According to the oldest spiritual movements, including Hinduism and many of its variations, we are the only ones responsible for our happiness; or, in fact, it is our own consciousness, an element of a multi-facet human design, that decides about happiness. Naturally, materiality is also important, as to function in this reality we need to eat, get clothed or hide from the unfavourable environment conditions (especially when yet another ‘winter of the century’ is drawing near). Nevertheless, is this palpable reality is what we really are? Can satisfying only the need of our bodies make us really happy in the long run? According to a contemporary model of growth, I guess it can… We need to eat well, wear trendy clothes, live in technology-infested cubbyholes, where we spend most of our free time, right after we leave the open space, where we give everything away in the name of all sorts activities rarely render any service to humanity. It is OK when the company we work for does not operate in a destructive way, for example by promoting useless gadgets manufactured on assembly line in China; or by dumbing-down like advertising companies or, God forbid, not too independent media groups. So we are born, go to school, get a job (worse and worse paid), we purchase products (more and more expensive, of lower and lower quality), for which we take out long-life credits, to reach the retirement age in sheer happiness and set out on holiday in a nursing home. This is how we can describe the reality in Poland, less than half-jokingly in fact. We have led to a situation in which we have no deeper feelings or needs; we are robots and ‘growth generators’ in a system for which we are no longer human. We are a part of matrix. Which direction is this whole growth heading for? Let’s admit that the natural environment and the conditions for a healthy life are improving. When are we going to realise that it is enough of the propaganda of growth, enough of the propaganda of pseudo-success?
We live in the times go global economy, where the supply pf products far exceeds the demand. The problem does not lie in the scarcity, but in the inefficiency of the system connected with the distribution of goods. In such a case, we do not need any growth, but politics accountable in terms of creating conditions for fair economics in global relations, in which we are to function.
Indian Peninsula is one of those unique places for mankind, where we can find traces of the oldest state organisations. Before the appearance of any country in Europe, ancient inhabitants of the Indus Valley created one of the vastest civilizations, the foundation of a most populated and most varied cultures of the modern world. Thousands of years before, which had shaped long the world before it was conquered by Europeans led by shallow motives of total domination, had witnessed the Hindu civilization create such living conditions in which human spirituality received with due attention. And I mean real spirituality, not just a religious doctrine, the difference between being fundamental. The development of humankind was equivalent with a balance between the physical and the spiritual. Not without a reason, the spiritual knowledge of the ancestors constitutes the core of everyday life for an average inhabitant of that region. If we were to compare Hinduism with Christianity, or to its stat-of-the-art, highly institutionalized form, namely the Roman-Catholic Church, we would have to start with the basics.
Hinduism is a spiritual practice rooted in culture, which is opposite to modern Christianity, transformed into a doctrine imposed on virtually the whole mediaeval world. Adopted as an indisputable dogma, it has become very much different from it used to be before the Church was formed in the Vatican City. The doctrine was a great banner under which the politics was controlling human minds, ignoring the roots of the faith, its spiritual leaders and precursors. A perfect example of a modern social engineering in this matter in the motto of the United States – ‘In God we Trust’, which motivates the advocated of the most aggressive policy of global economic terror. It’s just the tip of the iceberg and there seems to no point in going further into the statistics of other conflicts, in which ‘God’ was the banner and bestowed blessings on the nations following the only right values. Catholics spread in Europe, both Americas, and of course other continents conquered by colonialists. They even reached as far as India, although slightly later than assumed by the Vatican and Spain supporting the voyage of Christopher Columbus in search of gold and spices. However, indoctrinating the peninsula wasn’t successful and came to an end in a truly peaceful (just as Jesus would do) way, through the leadership of Gandhi – a symbol of a spiritual fight for freedom. Although the Portuguese, Frenchmen and Englishmen managed to leave an impact on India, they did not infect the people of the Peninsula with a disease, which unfortunately came upon a breeding ground in North America, namely materialism and obsessive consumption. Let’s not lie to ourselves and reject historical facts. The Vatican is not a philanthropic organisation and it was always present in the times of creating post- colonial nations. It is evident not only in the privileged religion, but also in other areas of in which a national system is functioning, including the most important one – financial. The slogan ‘In God We Trust’ is printed on banknotes of the most important global currency – the American dollar, accompanied by the allies’ currency – Euro. The only different between them is that you can buy petroleum only with American dollar. A coincidence? I don’t think so.
There are many sections of Hinduism, differing both in beliefs and practices. Cultural intricacies of the Peninsula and the lack of institutions regulating the doctrine makes forming one general definition of Hinduism representative for all, virtually impossible. Generally, Hinduism assumes that any faith, which leads to God is good and there is no monopoly on salvation, not even any earthly ‘representative’, whatever we call him or whatever clothes he wears. Faith is an individual bond between a human being and God – in Hindu tradition conceptualized totally differently form the one advocated by Catholics, namely an elderly, wise man knowing everything better than we do, knows what is best for us and treats every instance of insubordination with severe penalty. Referring to the Bible, Catholic God is revengeful, able to exterminate the whole mankind and, apart from the Deluge, brought punishment to whole nations (naturally the ‘un-chosen’ ones). Until today, the Bible has been a part of the mechanism for brainwashing, although we should be aware that after Jesus’ death faith was passed on to generations orally and only after several centuries it was written down in the form of ‘Words of God’ – the Bible. The knowledge passed down orally was later modified to suit the regulations of a fundamentally political organisation, without any room for objection, prosecuting and penalizing the opponents with yet another ‘holy’ organisation – the Holy Inquisition. But we know it all, don’t we? The inquisition might be long gone, but the Church continues its ideological crusade, although finally it is not devoid of break-down and spiritual debates.
Hinduism came to life naturally and has as many shades as there are nations inhabiting Southern Asia. It sparked off many spiritual movements, including the well-known Buddhism – more of a peaceful philosophy and the way to know oneself better than a classic religion based on mighty beings. In Hindu beliefs all men are equal, whatever their faith, race, country of residence, age or gender. I do not intend to whiten the reality and it has to be mentioned that in India there are many discrepancies between what people say and what they believe in, an example being a caste system, which could be a topic of a completely different historical and sociological analysis of the region. The Hindu have no Pope or the whole structure built throughout the years by the Vatican. I am inclined to believe that the Vatican popularised unhealthy excess and material pursuits, totally against its ideas. There is no need to comment on this as Church’s fortune would allow to actually put into practice all the ideas of love and help for fellow human beings. In the meantime, the doctrine violates its own laws stated in the Bible, stages a show of splendor and, unfortunately, accepts the usurious feast among its followers. It has changed, because the Vatican used to punish usury with excommunication, it conformed to the politics and followed the influences of the secular world and did something that, to my mind, seals an explicit treason of ideas and values. Islam did not buckle and in the countries with such a religious diversity (including India) tries to protect people against financial conquest and enslavement. We, the Christians, are continuously fed by the media with fear of and hate towards ungodly believers, the followers of Islam in particular. We are given a set of properly entangled information, which is like a pill depriving us of freedom and spirit. Most of us succumb to this, the system of mutual connections turns the truth into lies, good into evil. It’s inconvenient to stand out, so few people have the courage to go against the doctrine and most stick to the dream of consumption, believing to be on the right path. Where are the sciences which survived until the last version of the Bible (still probably devoid of all inconvenient fragments)? Where if the love for a fellow human being? Where is forgiveness and wisdom? Definitely not in the banknotes with the slogan ‘In God we Trust’ and not in the power of consumption.
Looking at the world through the prism of the duality of our nature, we can see an evident polarization of societies. They gather around two distinct poles of particular values. The more those societies are rooted in old and stable relation with the surrounding world, the more inclined biased towards subtle values, away from earthly, palpable or primitive they are. No deeper analysis is required to notice the differences between the values dominant in indigenous societies and those in the well-educated ones, so popular in the last few decades of globalization.
Systems of individual values are intervened with systems of common administration, finances, laws and other elements of social fabric. Although globalization has spread to monopolize the functioning of any structures on this planet, it will not manage to uproot the values cultivated by the oldest the strongest spiritually societies. We are now talking about the East, especially India, although the West (particularly southern) is trying to fight go keeping the fundamental DNA – an indestructible helix of unmaterialistic values, just as important as other instances of social life.
Coming back to India, where I spent a few winter months at the beginning of this year. Let me tell you a story of my fellowship in Gujarata – the homeland of modern India, Mahatma Gandhi.
After coming back from Peru, I decided to send my application for a ITEC programme – studies sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in India. ITEC is a programme of international cooperation, both financial and technical, which for the last fifty years has given an opportunity to the inhabitants of India’s partner countries to learn more about this wonderful land. Ranging from one-week courses to several-year-long studies, we have a number of department to choose from, including communication, IT and modern technologies, engineering and many more. I chose an intensive course in SME (small/medium enterprise), under an enigmatic name , Sustainable livelihoods and mainstreaming with market.’ In short, my course dealt with micro-economics of family businesses set in a difficult situation of developing countries. It was not a solitary example of looking at economics and other social sciences among all the subjects I could choose from. The very choice of topic speaks volumes of particular activities devoted to important socio-economic issues. I was the only representative of Europe and, to be honest, the only person not coming from the so-called third-world country. Yet, come to think of it, our government is trying hard to change this. What I saw during my stay in India fills me with faith in global, positive change. I can tell you that the world has to change, because India is changing and so are other prominent countries in the south. They are changing rapidly and dynamically, if we realise in which conditions they were left by the fleeing Englishmen. The country was plundered and deprived of any sovereignty, including the nutritional one. Nowadays, India is independent in this (and many other) respect and it is exporting more and more agricultural goods. People’s willingness to work hard and introduce a positive change to their own environment creates an enormous force, which translates onto a huge budget. It seems that the Indian government following different values from the Polish government can, wisely and with dignity, use the force of people living in the breadline.
I believe that the spiritual element is evidently the basis for what seems to be a steady growth of India. I had a pleasure to observe this during the programme I took part in. A steady growth is not only studying and theories researched by economists interested in more than just maximizing profits and optimizing costs. The studies were extremely practical and the practice basically boiled down to working in the field, observing the living organism, so to say. We visited a number of projects, which I found groundbreaking and unique on a global scale – especially when we look at things from the perspective of neoliberalism, which prevails in the countries of global, free market, including Poland. Completely freed capitals, circulating with no limits around the whole globe are to me nothing else but invisible shackles, which take away the dignity from the less privileged economies. Induced by financial structures of the south created after the Second World War are incapable of financing essential living conditions. This is where the ‘merciful’ prominent countries come with help for poor brothers; countries and financial institutions which arose after the fall of colonialism. ‘We will give you the money if you allow us to exploit you natural resources’, which they believe include the inhabitants, too. This is how the old colonial power transformed into economic power and what is more, the poverty, against the promises, does not diminish, but is increasing faster and faster (in many countries the middle class ceases to exist). Until recently, most countries had no choice and with the help of corrupted countries would agree to exploitation, in which an average person had no rights. Many of those places are still governed by the corrupted investors. If the capital produces brings any benefits, it goes back to the so-called ‘elite’. Let’s not be afraid to say it out loud. Most countries supporting a total domination and the sellout of the capital for the cash from financial cartels are not countries governed by those ‘elites’ (for me the word denote a group of the best and the most honest representatives), but by the mafia.
Fortunatelly, the situation in many countries is changing and they can free themselves from the global corporate mob. What is more, such countries are now so powerful that the dice is loading to their favour. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, which loathe human dignity are considerably disturbed with this situation. With the population of more than 1,2 billion people, India can ally with other powerful countries and create a concept of growth. BRICS, that is Brasil, Russia, India, China and the Republic of South Africa are this year forming are initiative which is going to help then become independent of the ‘merciful credits’ from the World Bank. Doesn’t is bring to mind a similar idea? Namely, isn’t the unrest of the Middle East, reaching the eastern boundaries of Europe, a military provocation, which could jeopardise a developing organisation?
This organisation is now responsible for what happens with the old establishment and the old divisions of power, suitable for the privileged, who used to draw profits at the expense of billions of human lives, sacrificed in the name of the so-called growth, both directly and indirectly.
I know I’m not the only one noticing the global picture of economic and political relationships and the groundbreaking moment in history we live in. I am happy to have been able to witness first-hand how India is changing the course of history, not by sending troops to foreign territories, but by using the enormous capital they have generated on their own, with the hand of ordinary people.
India has not driven out corporation, they are creating their own ones, which are naturally supported by the government, unlike in Poland or other neocolonial countries. Indian corporations, which generate large capitals, are not the only economic power. The government knows that every citizen should have the necessary condition for running a business – that’s why there is a lot of support for enterprises; for example, micro entrepreneurship among the poorest receives as much support as other small and minor enterprises. These seem to be the biggest part of the economy in Poland, both as an employer and GDP generator. We are beginning to realise how many of international companies do not register their profits in Poland, resort to creative accounting in an offshore bank or a tax heaven. The biggest companies, read business cartels, spend fortunes on lobbying and favourable relations with the authorities, which in turn create special conditions, such as development zones, or simply allow for business activities which blatantly destroy local enterprises. Unfortunately, small and minor enterprises seem to finance all this, because someone has to support an army of administrative workers. Junk employment agreements, low salaries and whole shebang is now treated as standard.
Right after small and minor enterprises, micro business activities is India’s priority in economic policy. Private initiative is surrounded by w favorable atmosphere, beginning with taxation through numerous support projects, such as clusters.
Economic activity at the micro and average level is a top priority of economic policy in India. Private initiative is surrounded by a good atmosphere for example taxation, many projects, including clustery and others. During me fellowship I visited a many projects focused on providing the know-how and technology to craftsmen, for example fabric producers. The places looked like modern manufacturers in Łodź form the time of its heyday, with one difference – it was managed by an international-level board (aware of the shop floor workers’ value), dealing with the marketing and sales of the products all over the world. The manufacturing plant was one of many belonging to Pochampalla – an Indian state. The government organises all sorts of clusters across the country; but apart from the state initiatives there are advanced private initiatives in the form of cooperatives. A dairy enterprise Amul is the biggest in the world cooperative uniting 3 million farmers, who co-own the company. When the cooperative started its venture after India regained freedom, the condition of agriculture was awful, but due to proprietary policy of the company, people were soon motivated and the independence was soon regained. Thanks to the latest technology of its numerous plants, Amul produces not only milk, but also many dairy products, such as cheese and yoghurt, which are of one of the best, not only in the Indian market. Since the beginning, the structure of the company has been based on a classic cooperative formula, and its essential democratic values have been respected until now. Naturally, Amul is not the only enterprise of this type and I had pleasure to talk to people engaged in various smaller but equally effective projects. I have already mentioned it, but let me say it again – I am convinced that the success of India’s project can be out down to a spiritual element, which allowed people to resist total colonialization and adopting foreign values, far from the fundamental beliefs of Hinduism. Without it, there would be no room for such huge informal associations and communities of mutual help. One such association is Deccan Development Society, a perfect example of a business initiative based on agriculture. The founder of the organisation is a very unique person – Mr. V. Satheesh, who received us warmly in his house (and his office at the same time), telling an inspiring story of DDS. It was not a story based on calculations and cruse statistical analysis typical for many modern non-governmental organisations. A growth Company for Decan Peninsula (author’s translation) was formed by establishing a special relation between man and the surrounding earth, nature and the environment. The independence of the community is the most important element, which decides about its being. A standard attitude in this matter is a well-known all over the world technology of capital-absorbing intensive agriculture. This is in fact the dogma of our growth – intensive cultivation, mechanization, non-ecological melioration systems, fertilizers, chemical substances and many more. This is juxtaposed with everything else, considered inefficient and incapable of creating proper conditions for large populations. In the meantime, this is what DDs set out to do, but in an orthodox way, treating the Mother earth with palpable respect. The process began with fertilizing devastated soil, with the use of simple, natural methods. People started to produce their own biohumus and they have done so ever since. Nowadays, there are more than 5,000 families involved in the process. When the potential of the soils was renewed, without the use of any artificial fertilizing chemicals, people went on to renew the endemic crops of the region. The previous policy devastated the land and introduced crops from other regions of the world, which could not ensure the biological balance necessary for a harmonious co-existence of man and nature. Yet it is only with the symbiosis of material and spiritual elements or organisms that is able to create favourable conditions. These days DDS runs several seed banks, which provide nutrition safety to its communities. The agricultural success gave vent to yet another effective project, namely social canteens, which differ from others, because they are stockes with local products, healthy, uncontaminated and grown with obvious care of common wellbeing. That’s not all, as apart from ecological, independent farming (also known as permaculture), DDS give young people opportunitites through its own system of education. It even owns a TV station and other media and form what I’ve heard it’s just the beginning of a path to a complete economic independence. My heart rejoiced when I saw all of this. For sure, Mr. Satheesh’s leading role in the endeavour was crucial, but I need to go back to the value of the spiritual capital, which barely exists in the so-called well-developed economies. This venture is full of such spiritual capital and even without any support from outside, communities can gain economic independence in a fairly short time. I was told about 80 per cent of independence, although to my mind it was more of 90, if we add to this model ecological attitude towards infrastructure and architecture and a group manufacturers of fabrics or other necessities.
Apart from large-scale projects we could see small-scale government initiatives. What raised my curiosity in particular was the concept SHG Self Help Goups, which is based on family self-organisation and self-help for women. In one street or borough, women choose a committee, which handles all sorts of help. For example, they create a social micro-fund, which allows to cover some expenses. It is not only the financial aspect that matters, but a prevailing dimension of help and support the women can count on.
India is a country of steady growth, cooperatives and social projects, where progress means a lot more than GDP, inflation and other financial coefficients determining the way of life. It is a country as big as half of Europe, but able to spiritually unite its people, whose spiritual consciousness is fundamental up until now. Throughout the centuries of conquests, not only European, India’s people attitude to life has helped them keep sovereignty. After years of military colonialism, as well as its new from – financial-economic, India is rising and demonstrating its power. The country is not operating alone under the banned of artificial relations, but together with the representative of the biggest nations in the world, which were assigned to a lesser category.
We can be grateful to Indian people, and not only Poles, because these countries are the gate to freedom for an average human being. These countries say not to the establishment, which after colonial times transformed and undercover of various free market organisations condemns the world to poverty, divisions, wars and unhappiness.
P.S. New Development Bank created by the BRICS countries has invited Greece to join them. Greece has recently struggled with payng high interest on credits granted by institution from the region’s ‘friendly’ countries. There is a great challenge ahead of us. The Fourth estate has let us down and has become colonilised like other element of our country. ‘Free media’ is an outdated term; in fact, they are just as manipulated as they used to be before the downfall of communism. Television, radio and press are in the hands of media corporations, financially connected with groups of interest, which are happy with the way things are and don’t want any change. It’s not in the media’s best interest to inform us about alternatives, about banks of growth and other institutions created by other than politically-correct initiatives. However, it is no longer so important, as more and more often, they unravel the real face of politics by reporting on affairs, secret agreements and other criminal procedures, which used to driven to the margin for so many years. Fortunately, we are evolving and in the whole information-driven machine there appeared a new group of media, outside the corporate control. It is the internet, a self-regulating, conscious community of usually anonymous whistleblowers. From the famous Wikileaks, to independent information providers, there is a new web of connections, which can stifle the media pulp our brains have been washed with foe years. What is now happening in to a coincidence, but evolution, a force that cannot be stopped. Although I sometimes find the situation difficult to grasp, I believe that everything seems to be going in the right direction, to a happy end and that the universe can still surprise us. In the meantime, I’m sending best regards to those who feel a part of this major, multidimensional evolution.