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Gandhism: Cure to global slowdown

June 24, 2009 13:26 IST

Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi's policy of self-reliance through job creation at all levels will be the solution to fight the current global economic slowdown, says a former diplomat.

"Worsening poverty for millions of the world's poor is being recognised as an important impediment to the recovery of the world economy," said Professor Veena Sikri, former Indian high commissioner to Malaysia and Bangladesh.

"Is there anything that we can do, as individual citizens of our respective countries, to ameliorate and overcome these daunting challenges?

"The need of the hour is to go back to the man-centred economics, the village-centred approach that forms the core of the Gandhian philosophy," she said.

"This means following the Gandhian ethic based on simplicity, self-sufficiency and self-reliance to be achieved through gram rajya, sarvodaya and satyagraha, which has ahimsa as its core," Sikri said in a lecture organised by the Mahatma Gandhi Centre in Colombo.

In this regard, she recalled that the Self Employed Women's Association based in Ahmedabad and Lucknow had brought together and empowered tens of thousands of women by providing training, marketing and branded product outlets for their crafts and embroidery skills.

"These village women are today entrepreneurs in their own right, as co-owners of the SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre in Ahmedabad," Sikri said.

She said the purpose of economic activity is to create material conditions for a good life, which is one that is firmly rooted in moral considerations.

"Unending greed for profit-making by the world's largest financial institutions and multinational corporations led to the global financial meltdown that we find ourselves in the midst of," she told the gathering in Colombo on Tuesday.

Meeting the basic needs of the common man remains the unfulfilled endeavour in developing countries, where most of the world's poor live, she said while delivering the lecture titled 'The Global Financial Meltdown and Gandhian Philosophy.'

"These are two opposing ends of the economic spectrum. Reconciling them presents among the most serious challenges facing governments, societies and individuals," Sikri added.

She said the ongoing global financial crisis has led to much introspection and discussion about what is the best way forward in order to rebuild trust and bring growth back into the system.

"There seems to be unanimity on the need for regulatory reforms in the international banking and financial systems so as to prevent risky financial practices and place strong restraints on the build up of excessive risk," she said during the lecture.

T V Sriram in Colombo
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