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Coronavirus crisis gives us a unique opportunity to evaluate the path between Socialism and Capitalism – The Third Way

The third way considers society as an integral part of nature as reflected in our ancient wisdom and culture and still reflected in some indigenous tribes although conversions have brought a hiatus between the indigenous tribes and nature.

What is The Third Way? However, I call it The Original- Way and the article uses both phrases interchangeably. Shri Dattopant Thengdi, a giant among the economists, intellectuals and thinkers of his time propounded the concept of The Third Way in contradistinction to the two then existing ways – Capitalism and Communism and hence the nomenclature.

As predicted by Thengdi Ji in 1970s Communism expired in 1990s and its central point USSR disintegrated although China is ruled by a Communist Party but is no more a communist country. China today is a totalitarian dictatorship having the worst of both Capitalism and Communism. Thengdi further opined that the demise of Capitalism is only delayed and it has to happen eventually. The failure of the two systems led to the search for an alternative wholistic way where an individual is not an atomistic isolated cog for reckless and relentless maximisation of profits at any cost overlooking the human element who is the first brick in a building block called family which in turn form societies which in turn form great nation-states. Thus behavioural aspects of human beings cannot be ignored as was being done in the two systems but adopting different strategies. 

Capitalism focuses on extreme individual values and rights as opposed to forced collectivism. Greed and domination are the underlying premises of the system based on relentless & reckless exploitation of both human and material resources adversely impacting the planet and the social behaviour. This gives rise to another principle, as I see it, inherent in the Third Way is “The need and not the greed ” should be the underlying basis of our policies and behaviour at all levels. The lack of this principle is leading to the collapse of existing systems. For example, the concept of L-1 status in awarding contracts to the lowest bidder is based on distrust and greed to somehow capture the contract whatever may be the impact on quality or timely execution. Another example of trust and need infused together is Govt. Of India allowing self-attestation of documents for govt. purposes. Thus trust on its own people is also inherent in The Third Way but that does not mean caution and vigilance has to be thrown to the wind.

The present Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted certain global responses to the crisis viz-a-viz India’s response where in other countries the system totally depended on the govt to mitigate the miseries of the people whereas in India apart from timely and praiseworthy efforts of the Government of the day the entire society collectively including RSS Swayamsevaks and other associated organisations like Sewa Bharati rose to meet the challenge. Even internationally Hindu Sewa Sangh and Sikh communities are in the forefront in many countries. Hence The Third Way focuses on the role of society and its behavioural aspects. Thus the society has to take the leading role in the crisis and even in normal times including in national restructuring and rebuilding with GOVT. being the facilitator. The Third Way focuses on the interconnectedness of individual to the family, family to the society and society to the nation highlighting the psychological and material backward and forward linkages.

The third way considers society as an integral part of nature as reflected in our ancient wisdom and culture and still reflected in some indigenous tribes although conversions have brought a hiatus between the indigenous tribes and nature.

A prime requirement of a successful nation is a healthy nation both physically and spiritually and for that to happen one requires behavioural changes in the basic conduct and values of human beings and their families. In this regard, ancient Indian wisdom of Ayurved, Yog, Pranayam, exercises and meditation comes in and are slowly leading to the behavioural changes universally. International Yoga Day is a prime illustration.

There are no instant quick-fix solutions and patience and self-confidence in Self become an important virtue to achieve the Objectives of the Original/Third Way. This path has to be led by men of virtue without expectation of any award or reward through the collective and cooperative effort of the society.

One of the important inherent and intrinsic foundations of the third way is the realisation of the sense of duty and responsibility in every citizen towards your nation first, family, society and nature.

Self Reliance is one of the core principles of the Third Way from basic village level to the national level keeping the highest standards of excellence and quality in goods and services. Keeping India in mind it espouses and focuses on employment generation, skill-based self-employment and SMSEs industries which do not adversely impact the environment and seeks to promote the same. In order to promote self-reliance, society has to promote indigenously manufactured goods restricting imports to the bare essentials. The feeling of self-reliance has to be reflected in our day to behaviour and conduct and needs to be promoted.

Education is an important tool to bring about behavioural changes. The existing Western-centric education system focussing only on material needs has failed the nation and the need of the hour is to have an education system utilising modern science and environment-friendly technologies infusing with the traditional system and ancient knowledge and wisdom to bring about the espoused behavioural changes in the society. A modified Gurukul system and research-based institutions linked to the industry has to be promoted.

The socio-economic policies have to address the basics. The focus has to be on low energy input non-polluting industries both at rural and urban level achieving its goals through collective effort and the cooperative movement. Incentives to areas where we lack a particular industry must be given and at the same time not fall in the trap of disruptive forces as in the case of Copper industry where we became a importing country from being an exporting one. One must remember if farmers and village economy suffers the nation suffers the most. In times of Pandemic rural economy is proving the backbone of the country. Capacity creation with a view to substituting imports promotes self-reliance.

The healing of nature during the lockdown has reinforced the holistic approach of the third way which restoring the damage done to the planet. Water and forest conservation, plastic-free world, cleanliness, traditional practices like Organic farming, cow protection, conservation and promotion etc are subsets of The Third Way.

An out of the box suggestion based on the environmental impact of lockdown is to have our economic policies, manufacturing and production, supply and distribution networks, stocks and so on so designed and adjusted so as to have a yearly lockdown of one month on a regular basis. This would not only heal the planet but its inhabitants also.

The discipline of every citizen both in public and private life is a sine qua non of every successful country or aspiring to be one. Cleanliness and following the laws of the land and rules and regulations framed therein is an important feature. A leading example is the regions in the country that followed COVID-19 pandemic guidelines and maintained public discipline in their behaviour have been more successful in containing the spread of Coronavirus. 

The concept of a Third Way can only succeed if there is self-confidence in the society in its past, present and future. That confidence not only comes from the present but equally from the past. Hence our Eurocentric colonial history written by British trained leftist historians has to be trashed and the same has to be restored and written again.

Why the third way? The existing systems of the world have led to increasing inequities, dissatisfied and discontented population and societies, overpopulation, destruction of nature both immediate and unseen has both created and accelerated the problems. The belief that my religion is the best and is the only path to salvation to the exclusion of other belief systems and modes of worship is a major cause of terrorism in the world apart from other conflicts arising from trying to have exclusive control over scarce resources and to have global domination. The excessive weaponisation by some countries has led to the fear in others leading to a never-ending arms race. The more polluting developed countries are shifting the blame on less polluting countries forcing them to agree to unachievable goals. But one must remember the whole planet is intrinsically connected and the action of chosen few can destroy the entire world. Therefore, the concept of Vasudhaiv Kutumbukam is not in a vacuum. The holistic approach of the Third Way of inclusiveness, interconnectedness and mutual trust can effectively address such issues.

The steps were taken by govt of India such as Mudra loans to encourage self-employment, SMSEs, skill development, promoting organic farming, land pooling in farming etc through cooperative and collective effort, DBT, digitisation of trading processes to eliminate middlemen etc are the steps reflecting the espoused approach.

The Third or The Original way approach expects that our govt brings in new education policy, restoring history, controlling the population, focussing on the family as a building block and unit of overall development of society and the nation, enforcing public discipline, promoting self-reliance and infusing traditional wisdom with modern science and research. A wholistic policy is required where economic factors are not sole parameters of development but integrating self and the society and shifting focus from individual to the society with the ingrained realisation of fundamental duties in our Constitution. On the other hand society and its components have to develop a deep sense of duties and responsibilities to the nation, inclusiveness, non-discrimination, equity, equality, justice and overall sense of collective happiness and that requires psychological and behavioural change at every level where rights don’t take precedence over one’s own duties. And Bharat has to chart its own path.

And to those who heard Sarsanghchalak of RSS, Shri Mohan Bhagwat’s online Udbodhan on Baudhik warg on 26th April 2020, the present article will have some, although not complete, resonance. Bhagwat appropriately explained the concept of The third way and its application in the context of the present crisis without naming it.

Another pertinent fact of history is that two great travellers one Megasthanese in the 3rd BCE and Huen Tsang in the  7th CE having a time gap of one thousand years between them have both written that one common quality of Bhartiya people is that they are simple, honest and trustworthy to the core and the Third Way has deep faith in Indian people and its inherent qualities to steer the nation towards being a Vishwaguru.

The Third Way or the Original way concept is not a difficult goal and is achievable in a decade or so with patience, small sacrifices from everyone and a self-confident nation and that is, is in our DNA as proven by thousands of years of history.

The present Coronavirus pandemic and the resultant crisis has given us a unique opportunity to review and reassess the existing system which is difficult to do in normal times and develop a  new unique socio-economic India specific new system having universal values based on The Third and the Original Way.

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