In today's world, large animals are on the verge of extinction. Environmental conditions do not support the existence of big animals any longer. In the past, many large creatures inhabited the earth, but as environmental conditions changed and human beings extended their domination over the planet, giant animals became extinct. Similarly, small states are struggling to survive. People are more interested in forming larger and larger socio-economic units to ensure the welfare of all than in maintaining many small states. Narrow sentiments are gradually fading away and a universal outlook is arising in the minds of human beings. Science and technological development have exposed the blind faith and dogma that have suffocated many sections of society, and gradually humanity is advancing towards an age of discrimination and common interest. So, the present age is not the age of large animals and small states.
In accordance with this socio-economic trend, PROUT advocates the formation of self-sufficient units throughout the world. These socio-economic units will work to enhance the all- round welfare of the people in their respective areas and unite all humanity on a common ideological base. As each unit becomes strong and prosperous, it will merge with other units. With the formation of a world government, the interests of all people and all nations can be guaranteed and gain proper recognition. Through such a process PROUT can ensure the all-round welfare of humanity.
The main characteristic of PROUT-based socio-economic movements is that they aim to guarantee the comprehensive, multifarious liberation of humanity. Since the beginning of history there has been an incessant fight for freedom from natural, social, economic and political enslavement. This fight is inherent in human nature. Human beings want freedom both as individuals and as members of society, and to ensure this freedom they will fight against all types of oppression. Yet we find that when any oppressed group or class has gained some measure of freedom, it in turn has oppressed other groups and classes.
Whatever liberty we find in society today is the result of prolonged struggle by many individuals and groups. This struggle, this quest of the mind, is an innate human characteristic. At the root of all human desires is the fundamental desire for happiness, the desire to establish oneself in the supreme flow of bliss. This means that in individual life human beings have to reach the state of the Absolute and break all bondages of relativity. To liberate the mind from all bondages of time, space and person is the natural tendency of human beings, but only the attainment of the Absolute can fulfil the innate human desire for happiness.
In collective life, in social life, Absolute freedom is not possible. While society should encourage the individual search for Absolute freedom, collective freedom can only be ensured if there is comprehensive unbarred expression in the different spheres of life. Freedom in these spheres should be considered a part of the natural rights of every human being. For these natural rights to develop properly, it is our duty to create a congenial atmosphere, a suitable socio-economic environment, as such a congenial environment does not exist today.
Criteria for Groupification
There are several factors which should be considered when forming socio-economic movements. These are same economic problems, uniform economic potentiality, ethnic similarity, common sentimental legacy and similar geographical features.
Same economic problems refers to the similarity of economic problems confronting a community in a particular region. Such problems include lack of markets for locally produced goods, surplus or deficit labor problems, communication or transportation difficulties, no proper irrigation water facilities, etc. Ascertaining whether or not a similar set of economic problems exist in a region is the first thing which should be clearly analysed when forming a socio-economic group. The economic problems and the solutions should be well understood.
Secondly, there should be uniform economic potentiality in the region. While it is natural that there will be variations from place to place within one socio-economic unit, over all, the people throughout the region should enjoy similar opportunities for economic prosperity. Disparity between the "haves" and the "have nots", the rich and the poor, should be progressively reduced so that all people can prosper together collectively and society will become bountiful.
Thirdly, there should be ethnic similarity. In the past, many races and sub-races have been suppressed and exploited by other powerful or dominant races. Racism has been propagated by those with evil designs in order to divide society and establish their dominance. Society should guard against such dangerous and narrow sentiments, and this can be done only if every ethnic group has adequate scope for its expression and development. The multi-colored garland of humanity will be greatly enriched if varying human groups blend together from a position of strength and independence out of a genuine love for their brothers and sisters, and are not forced together through fear or compulsion.
Fourthly, sentimental legacy includes factors like language, historical traditions, literature, common usages, cultural expressions, etc. It is the common chord in the collective psychology of a particular group of people which gives them their unique identity and sense of affinity. Human beings are predominantly sentimental by nature, and they establish some kind of relationship with the many objects of the world through day- to-day activities. If the sentiment for a particular favourite object is adjusted with the collective sentiment, then that sentiment can be utilised for establishing unity in the human society. Sometimes the human sentiment for many objects runs counter to the collective sentiment and as such creates greater disunity. Hence, those sentiments which are conducive to human unity should be encouraged, rejecting the sentiments which create a rift in human society. This is the approach adopted by PROUT's socio-economic groups.
Finally, similar geographical features, including topography, riven systems, rainfall, irrigation water, etc. should also be considered in the formation of a socio-economic group.
Thus, PROUT-based socio-economic groups are popular movements which will fight against all forms of exploitation and for the local demands and sentiments of the people. Such movements will work for the establishment of self-sufficient socio-economic units throughout the world according to the principle, "Know the area, prepare the plan and serve the people."
Self-Sufficient Socio-Economic Units
A member of a socio-economic unit is one who speaks the local language and lives in the local area. Those who have merged their individual socio-economic interest with the socio- economic interests of the concerning socio-economic unit are the indigenous population of that unit.
Each socio-economic unit should prepare it's own developmental program and for this several factors need to be considered. These include natural resources, topography, river systems, cultural conditions, communication, industrial potential and development schemes. These factors will enable a unit to facilitate proper planning and development to become self sufficient economic units. The prosperity of a socio-economic unit cannot be increased if a significant part of its production is spent outside the unit or mis-utilized. Therefore, there should be no drainage of capital from a socio-economic unit and maximum utilisation of it's resources.
If a particular unit is a federal system cannot get economic justice, it may agitate for a separate allocation of funds within the federal budget. If, after launching such an agitation, it still fails to secure proper justice, it may demand the formation of a separate state. However, PROUT does not favour the formation of many small states, each with its separate budget and administration. Numerous state divisions will only compound socio-economic problems, causing unnecessary duplication, and are costly and wasteful. Rather small states should be expanded into larger socio-economic units.
Criteria for Merger of Socio-Economic Units
Two or more adjoining units can merge to form a single larger unit if certain conditions are fulfilled--economic similarity, communication facilities and administrative efficiency. Where these conditions occur two or more units will have attained a high degree of socio-economic parity, so it will be easy and natural for them to co-operate together in a co- coordinated way. Socio-economic units fulfilling these conditions may merge together for the welfare of their respective citizens and to further their socio-economic interests.
Let us take the example of India. The eastern state of Orissa is very rich in mineral resources such as coal, bauxite, manganese etc. but the present Indian leaders export these mineral resources to overseas countries. If those raw materials were utilised for indigenous industrial production, then four big steel plants could easily have been put into operation. This would have substantially raised per capita income. But the leaders, instead of paying attention to those things, have been framing five-year plans whimsically. Ultimately, these plans neither remove the economic disparities nor increase the collective wealth. To achieve these twin ends the present economic system is to be thoroughly overhauled. At the very outset, to facilitate socio-economic development, the country should be divided into socio-economic units. If state boundaries are demarcated on the basis of political and linguistic consideration, then socio-economic plans can never be properly drafted and various economic problems will not be given due attention. So self-sufficient units are indispensable for expediting the countries economic progress.
At the moment, there are various economic units with different economic problems within the same political division. For instance, in the Chotanagpur Hills of Bihar, there is an acute problem of irrigation, whereas in the plains of north Bihar, there is a problem of drainage of water. In the same way, Royal-Simla, Shrii Kakulam and Telangana areas have been annexed to the same political province--Andhra--although their economic problems are different. Considering these diverse economic problems, in the interests of those people different socio- economic units should be created. Converting these different political divisions into a single economic unit right now, if implemented for administrative purposes, may lead to complications.
So one economic unit may be divided into two political divisions (even one is necessary). There can be more than one economic unit in a political division.
This approach will enable different socio-economic groups to develop to a level which fulfils their potentiality. When two groups reach nearly the same level of development they should merge together to form a larger unit. This process of unification will gradually result in the formation of one socio- economic unit for all India. In the next phase, through continued growth and development, the whole of South East Asia will become one socio-economic unit. Eventually, the whole world will function as one integrated socio-economic unit. At this stage, universal fraternity will become a reality. After reaching this stage of development the popular movements of PROUT will have attained a state of balance and equipoise.
Universal in Spirit, Regional in Approach
The concept of a socio-economic unit is bound to gain great momentum all over the world within a short span of time. However, while there are many diversities in the cultural expressions and difference should not be allowed to divide humanity. If the common sentiments of human beings are given prominence and the points of unity are made the basis of collective development, diversity will enrich humanity rather than tear it asunder. And if each socio-economic unit is inspired by a comprehensive ideology and a universal outlook, human society will move ahead with accelerating speed towards a sublime ideal.
PROUT recognises that a sound ideological base is also a pre-requisite for any socio-economic movement. The socio- economic movements advocated by PROUT are founded on the ideological base of Neo-humanism. Neo-humanism can unite all humanity and establish society in universalism. It is true that universalism will not be established on the hard crust of earth overnight. It will come to fruition gradually, stage by stage, and will include each and every person in the world, as well as animals, plants and inanimate objects. If a single person remains outside the sphere of influence of universalism and becomes a victim of exploitation, then the foundation of Neo- humanism will be undermined. Thus PROUT's approach can be characterised as universal in spirit but regional in approach.
Protection From Exploitation
Even after socio-economic units are established throughout the world, how will exploitation in the future be avoided? PROUT contends that society will enjoy lasting protection from all types of exploitation only if the following four factors are well-developed in social life. These factors are an integrated socio economic base, . . . an empirical spiritual ?Practice. . .cadres and proper institutions.
An integrated ideology should have several aspects. It must be the basis for the rational analysis of socio-economic problems and the formulation of comprehensive, appropriate and logical (line missing) psychic expansion and spiritual emancipation. And thirdly, it should be imbibed with inherent dynamism and vitality so that it can carry humanity forward in its quest for all-round progress.
An empirical spiritual base to society will protect it from all fissiparous tendencies and group or clan philosophies which create shackles of narrow-mindedness. Spirituality does not recognise any unnatural distinctions between human beings. It stands for evolution and elevation and not for superstition or pessimism.
Spiritually-orientated cadres will provide a moral check against all forms of exploitation and will propagate moral and spiritual ideas throughout society according to the motto, "Self- realisation and service to humanity."
Finally, proper institutions are necessary to reflect the needs and aspirations of the people and work for the cause of human welfare. The need for a world government is already apparent to many people, and in the future, once it is established, its powers should be progressively strengthened. Each socio-economic unit should get ample scope for its integrated development within the framework of the world government.
Thus, PROUT's system of socio-economic units is a comprehensive approach to society's socio-economic problems. If people adopt such an approach, society will move along the proper path of advancement with accelerating speed, overcoming all bondages and hindrances. Human society will enjoy a bright and glorious future.
(c) 1995 Ananda Marga Publications, all rights reserved