Hindu Economics – Is There Any Better Economic Theory Than This?

ecTen years ago, I was travelling from Mumbai to Frankfurt by Lufthansa. My fellow passenger, a young Briton – Rohan Stanley – talked to me.

Rohan Stanley’s ancestors were South Indians who settled in UK long ago. He is doing honors in fine arts.

I said I am a finance journalist and working for a US-based newswire. Our talk touched economics when he said: “India has never focused on economics from the time immemorial…Hence it remains as poor, underdeveloped and intolerant country…Even great economic theories like communism and socialism failed in India.”

“I know my country has lot of shortcomings. I also don’t see any great progress in the next couple of decades. But don’t say India never knew anything about economy…As a matter of fact, the only humane and sustainable economic theory – the best ever in the world – was developed and practiced by our ancestors.”

“Mr. Uday, over-patriotism is a sickness! What economic theory India has apart from some non-practical spiritual idiotism? Your theories never address poor working class and downtrodden. Your ancestors were big zero in finance. They didn’t even have a currency or coin. Even dessert dwelling Middle East Arabs had Dinar as currency…”

“You are wrong here. Early punched coins were minted and used for many centuries in India. These coins were made of gold, silver, or copper. 12 Dhanakas = 1 Suvarna, 3 Suvarnas=1 Dinara. An equivalent of Indian Dinara was Greek coin denarius. So even the word dinar comes from India. Modem currency codes Dinar, Rupee, Rupiah, Taka etc. all have equivalent terms in Sanskrit (Dinara, Rupyaka, Tankaka etc). Incidentally, the ‘Dinar’ was introduced in Kuwait in 1960 as a replacement for the Rupee!” I told him: “Our ancestors had an economic theory that was the best in the word… And India was never a spiritual country – it’s a misconception.”Please continue reading at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N9PAGLT

Udaylal Pai
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1 Response

  1. Aashna says:

    I am extremely surprised that this article does not mention The Arthashastra at all. Not only does that book talk about statecraft and strategy, its exploration of economic policies, tax regulation, setting up of an overall fiscal structure etc. is par excellence. Nice try with the whole fictional conversation with dummyboy Rohan mentioned above though. However, if it is indeed a true incident, then your co-passenger sounds obnoxious and rather poorly educated despite all his boasts because frankly, I have met plenty of NRIs and foreigners who are quite well versed with things beyond India’s Islamic past. I don’t disagree that many Indians are ignorant of ancient Indian history but I doubt anyone is seriously that stupid to believe that history began with the Mughals. I don’t know what third rate schools Rohan has known but I have studied in plenty of different cities in different corners of India, and nowhere was the ancient Hindu history ignored. Old missionary convents, army schools, KVs, DAV schools – they all teach everything from the Harappan civilisation until Emperor Harshavardhan, with some Vijaynagara Empire and the Cholas thrown in towards high school, and all this *before* the syllabus moves on to the Delhi Sultanate, Mughal, and British periods followed by rudimentary basic world history. Moreover, who on earth is THAT mentally deficient to believe that Indians had no currency before the Muslims arrived? Little kids as young as 10 do projects on monetary history as I have seen my nephew do recently (with coins images going as far back as the Satrap period). I appreciate that you are trying to spread awareness about old Indian concepts but please don’t make every Indian sound like a bumbling fool who learnt nothing in school except for being force fed propaganda by some imaginary enemies. Any regular, educated person in India knows at least a little about the ancient Hindu kingdoms (not much in detail though because we Indians have somehow decided that history is a “boring” subject only worthy of derision). In fact, what a lot of us don’t know much about are important events of world history like Nazism and the Holocaust. I have seen plenty of moronic Indians embarrass themselves by going up to a random bewildered German and bleating, “Oh we love Hitler! We think he had the right idea.”

    And as far as LSE (London School of Economics) is concerned – studied there. Just because our universities don’t really study much about ancient Greek/Egyptian/Babylonian/Roman schools of thought, that does not mean the rest of the world is also ignoring India. This is not 1955 and India is not some starving basketcase. It’s a matter of curiosity and admiration and there is plenty of interest in its ancient culture. And to come back to the LSE, they do have lessons in the History of Economic Thought, both as full fledged courses (there’s a whole special department of Economic History) and as minor classes, and ancient India features prominently in those along with ancient China.

    Also, just out of pure intellectual curiosity, where did you come up with the idea of “7000 years ago” for the Rig Vedic Period? Since there is no archaeological evidence, all that we can use are deductions based on astronomy or on Shulbasutras which inspired the Egyptians and hence that dates the Vedic period somewhere around 3100 BCE at the earliest. 3100 + 2000 odd years = around 5100 years ago. So why the magic figure of 7000?

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