The moral basis of market capitalism has been revisited due to the 2008 recession: author Jaithirth Rao

Author and entrepreneur Jaithirth Rao |

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New Delhi: The 2008 economic recession was not only a slowdown, but it also made us revisit much of the moral basis of modern market capitalism, said entrepreneur and author Jaithirth “Jerry” Rao.

In a conversation with ThePrint editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta and author Gurcharan Das on ‘Off The Cuff’ on Friday, Rao added that the doctrine of trusteeship (the rich holding their wealth as trustees) compared to Mahatma Gandhi’s economic ideology has become more relevant. today in light of the recession.

“Words like predatory and greedy have become the way to describe many behaviors [post-2008] and the very foundations of market capitalism have been called into question, and there has to be a new opening about it, ”Rao said, adding that many responses to modern capitalism have been too“ technocratic ”.

Rao’s new book Economist Gandhi: The Roots and Relevance of the Mahatma’s Political Economy, examines Gandhi’s ideas on economics and their relevance today.

The author argued that Gandhi was not anti-capitalist and was strongly influenced by the biblical gospels, among others.

Gurcharan Das also agreed with Rao on the importance of Gandhi’s economic ideology in contemporary discourse.

“After 2008 and the phenomena of inequalities [as stated by French economist Thomas Piketty], market capitalism is on the defensive and in a way rightly so, because the needle had gone too far and now we are backing down. I hope we don’t go too far into the licensing review, ”Das added.

Read also : World Class Gandhi vs. Frugal Saint – The Battle at the Heart of Sabarmati Ashram Metamorphosis

Gandhi and the tutelage

Much of the “Off the Cuff” conversation revolved around Gandhi’s views on guardianship. Rao noted that Gandhi was not advocating guardianship from a societal point of view but from that of a wealthy person and it was a great criticism to leave large amounts of money as an inheritance for the children.

“[Gandhi] has a way of trying to say that building wealth, building wealth is good, but how you spend it matters because wealth is instrumental. It has to be spent wisely and giving a lot of it to your children, according to Gandhi, is not very wise, ”said Rao.

Rao also said Gandhi had a close relationship with the Quakers, a collection of Protestant Christian denominations in Britain, who also had “extremely negative connotations associated with inherited wealth.”

“When [Gandhi] went to the roundtable in London, his first public speech was at a Quaker friend’s house, ”Rao added.

On Gandhi and the Gospels

In response to a question from a viewer about Mahatma Gandhi’s Allahabad speech in 1916 and its role as a “distillation of the Gospels,” Rao cited the work of another Gandhi historian, Anthony Parel, and mentioned stated that Gandhi had quoted extensively AR Wallace, William Shakespeare and the Gospels in the speech.

“The basic creed that economists adopted was that religion and economics were separate things. “If you want to be successful in business, you shouldn’t worry about religious matters.” Gandhi attacks that [creed] head on, ”Rao said.

He added that Gandhi methodically debunked every aspect of this creed, from the “morally degrading” nature of “crushing populism” to Gandhi’s view of Jesus Christ as “the greatest economist of his time”.

Read also : Mahatma Gandhi’s glasses found in British auctioneer’s letterbox could fetch more than Rs 14 lakh

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