Jan Mar 2014

Jan Mar 2014
Economics of Happiness

Most economist still believe material growth and a globalised capitalist system is the key to human well being, even when the facts show that it has only widened the gap between the rich and the poor. We need to explore deeper to see the reality and to examine other frame works for an ecologically sane and socially equitable economics

Editorial

Ideas can be powerful. The idea of perpetual material progress has captivated human beings, especially during the last two centuries. Yet, the notion that it is natural for human beings to seek constant progress or growth – material or otherwise - is a relatively new one. For many millions of years, humankind has evolved without being enchanted by the idea of outer progress. Many thousands of communities, even today, do not care for it.

Say ‘protected areas’ and the first thing that will likely cross the minds of readers is Yellowstone, or Kruger, or Kanha, or Great Barrier Reef, or whatever other iconic government designated site you may be familiar with in your region. Chances are, you won’t think of Coron Island, or Khonoma, or Mandingalbay Yidinji. What, you might say, are these?

We’re accustomed to think of biodiversity only in connection with wild species in places like the rain forest, but the species that humans have selected and bred since the invention of agriculture are no less important. They represent a priceless worldwide store of genetic and cultural information, the heritage of some 10,000 years of co-evolution between humans and their crop plants.

While addressing a joint session of Parliament, President Pranab Mukherjee said “in due course the direct benefits transfer system will also cover wages and subsidies on food.” The enthusiasm for routing the food subsidy in the form of cash transfers has great political advantages but at the same time has serious fallouts in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.

In a Culture of 'more, more and more', even the idea of happiness has turned into an endless quest for more of it, says Tim Stobbs, as he reviews the book Enough by John Naish

 

Gross National Happiness measures the quality of a country in a more holistic way and believes that the beneficial development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occurs side by side to complement and reinforce each other.

It has always amazed me how our culture seems to have immense difficulty in accepting one very simple fact: that the Earth is a finite sphere which cannot suffer our depredations without limit.