Friday, September 12, 2014

Adam Smith vs Mahatma Gandhi

In "The wealth of nations", Adam Smith promotes the concept of invisible hand. He pursues the path of reasoning that the more good to society is done, if we let the invisible hand of market to function. The division of labour is the core tenet which is important for the invisible hand of market to function properly. The natural extension of this theory is the extreme globalization of the world, where division of labour works all the way up and down.
The theory of extreme globalization, however on the face sits just opposite to the concept of self sufficiency promoted by Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji basic unit of self sufficiency is a village, which
is able to generate all its resources and is not dependent on the outside world for its day to day needs.
Though the concept looks to be going against each other, but if we look them closely they are not counter arguments. The argument line taken by Adam Smith is economic in nature. There are no aspects of human nature involved in it. It's about a machine and how we can make it more efficient. On the other hand, the tenets on which Gandhiji proclamation rests on is more rested on the human nature. It deals with the basic question of how much a human needs for his or her consumption.
And we need both. We need Adam Smith's theory so that we can make best use of scarce resources of nature. We need Gandhiji's theory which is nicely summed up in the statement that "There is enough for man's need but not for his greed." The right balance should be striked between what is absolutely needed for the society to live and what is pure materialistic consumption.
In retrospect, if we look closely than humans as a race has constantly increased the envelope of its needs. In prehistoric period, a person in a day would need just a two square meal. The whole aim of a day was to hunt an animal or gather enough so that the need of the meal for the day would be satisfied. Adam Smith division of labour would help in dividing the work between different individuals as per the skill set that each one develops. The faster one leading the hunting teams and the smarter once providing the right strategies. The need of fire would not have been discovered yet.
We have come a far distance from the point of basic minimum needs.

The good of human as a society lies in putting both the concept together. Our materialistic needs are less and we solve those needs in an efficient way.

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