I am with Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman of Niti Ayog. He is no stranger to our viewers. Thank you for your time. -Hi, Rajiv. Good. Thank you for having me. -We had a few discussions before and it was a very big hit. Lot of people asked lot of questions. They got to know you, got to know what you do. I think this is very good and very healthy because the worldwide audience gets more familiar with your thinking. Good to know that and good to know that some people watched it. And thanks for coming back, coming this wonderful. -Yeah. -I enjoyed it last time. -Yes. And I wanted to start on the inner journey side because we talked a lot about the outside world. -Yes. -But towards the end we touched upon the inner journey and I think people were very interested in finding out your inner journey. -Yeah. -So, what I wanted to discuss is whether you agree with this premise that a nation has to have a spiritual foundation at the individual level in order of that this manifests externally in performance, in emotional ways, in stability and ethics and all of that. Rajiv, very much so. And let me explain also, how. I mean, it’s not just assertion or rhetoric, and for my own discipline, you see. I mean, the definition of economics that we have learnt from Lionel Robbins and others, is that it’s a science of unlimited wants and limited means. Which is why it’s called a dismal science. And, If you look at this definition of economics clearly, it’s completely at odds with trying to achieve an ecological balance. You know, and it’s and as you can see more and more, that this is not going to work. Right? Because if you are going to chase material wants endlessly, then the western model, even in the western model which thinks about conquering nature, and thinks about bending nature to man’s will and ego. You know, in Marxist term, you know, the last contradiction between man and nature, contradiction between man and nature with all of that you can’t, now it’s very clear that this planet will not survive if you had that sort of a thing. How do you change this? What is the way to change this is that in the Indian tradition, philosophical tradition you have had this thing about Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam which says that man lives with nature. And when man lives with nature, it is there is necessary that man needs to have a degree of satisfaction. So, you have to have what could be called rational wants and not unlimited wants. So, how do you get to these things about rational wants? Can you see the logic that I am trying to make? -Yes, yes, yes. Very clear. -You see, yeah? -Yes. -So, and rational wants or satisfaction can only come if you have an inner framework. If you have, you have an inner sense of what is ethically, you know, important or what is ethically permissible in your and you build that set of value and try to balance your needs, not just in material terms but also in, you know, if you like, also in spiritual terms. Also, in terms of ecology, balance in social being. And, you know, giving you one or two examples. Chasing material means might well mean that you want to maximise material, you know, objectives that you don’t look after your parents. -Right. -Okay? And because you know, that’s alright. I mean, my material benefits are met if I am a nuclear family. So, that’s it. Now, that’s a value which leads to a social breakdown. -Right. -Right? Material means might well mean that look, I don’t mind, I will just go, spoil the nature. I will convert everything into urbanization and urban sprawl. And I don’t know what happens to the nature. So, that would, so, that won’t work either. Similarly, if you, if we don’t have a inner spiritual awakening, -Right. -which says that every human being is as important or as good or as use, you know, the same as yourself. -Right. -and Carries the same, if you like, reflection of God almighty within herself, then you don’t respect the other. -Right. -And you therefore create a lot of dissonance and dissension in the economy. And that then gets reflected in all that you do. -Yes. -So, therefore, a nation which is based on some enlightened principles which comes from your… which comes from every spiritual tradition. -Yes. -forget the religions from it. -Right. -Every spiritual tradition emphasizes the same. -Right. -And if you do that then you can achieve, if you like, much higher levels of happiness with much lower spoilage of nature and ecology. -So, the ability to find anand within. -Yes. -Because meditation leads to that state. -Yeah. I don’t need to consume in order to feel joy, I just have a ability to find it within. -Yes. -And there are established techniques to achieve that. So, a community of meditators is happy without too much consumption. -Yes. Now, doesn’t the whole economic theory of consumerism go against this? In the sense that they are measuring success by how much more you are consuming. Now, it could be that some people who are consuming less are actually happier. -Yes. -But they would be considered, you know, a failure. Like Gandhi would be considered, you know, he doesn’t consume a whole lot so he is a poor guy and he is backward. So, is there an issue of the inner self, spiritual self versus the whole model of economics which is material based? -There clearly is a conflict here. And I would rather have, you know, what the Bhutanese call, -Happiness index. -The index of happiness. -Yes. rather than index of material consumption. -Right. -And GDP unfortunately measures only that. -Right. -So, even as an economist, by being an economist I am acutely conscious. that evolved human beings should have a multi variable objective function than a singular objective function which is measured just in terms of how much wealth you have in your bank or, you know, material assets. Because I think its… everybody will accept the fact that you will get quality of happiness, the quality of joy, the quality of satisfaction that you get from pursuing many different objectives in life is far better than having pursue only a single objective in life. And what you mentioned earlier, you see, that it’s an absolute fact and I know this from my own practice of meditation for last 30 or 30 odd years is that, if you get connected and if you feel a sense of, if you like, you know, the only word, sounds very big, but pardon my saying it but if you can get a taste of bliss while you are fully aware, then you very often you think of others as much, you know, quite meaningless in life and that gives you a great ability to do whatever you are doing but in a manner that you are sort of in some sense distance from it. -Yes. You know, so, you get, you know, what the Hindi very good word that to, one is that you would become tatasth and you become a witness. So that you can do what you like but recognizing that whatever you are doing is a bit your duty or dharma but not necessarily for giving you the sort of giving you experience of happiness or joy; Anand is the only word actually. -Right, right. -That you can get that anand. Then the rest in some sense becomes, you know, not materially relevant to you. -Right. -And yet you do it to the best of your ability. And actually, studies show that performance goes up, – Performance goes up. -for athletes because they are not so stressed. -No, absolutely. -And they are not so vested in their selfish personal pursuit and they are doing it spontaneously. -No, absolutely. And, you see, I think also, even Einstein and others said this that some of the best thoughts, some of the path breaking thoughts do not come out of pursuing a linear objective. -Right. -They in some sense drop to you, you know, while you are sitting there and if you are, you know, in meditation and if you are connected, then you can think horizontally much more -Yes. -than what you can think just sort of awakened, you know, rational and falling yourself in logic etc. I suppose some of the best path breaking thoughts in this, in world, in human history have come from, you know, meditation, contemplation, silence, you know, than has come from being hyperactive and probably have never come from people who are pursuing a material goal and exclusively that. -Now, If a nation pursues the happiness index idea of Bhutan, we live in a world, a realistic world, we have to look at is a kind of modern Kurukshetra with lot of warring going on, lot of competition for resources, lot of border disputes, people after each other. Do you think such a nation becomes vulnerable because it is too good and therefore others are not? Now, if the whole world were Bhutan like, and spiritual and if the whole world adopted Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, then, you know, we would be perfect. But if some people do, and others say, you know, I am hungry and I want to expand and take his territory and get his resources which has been much of history, you know, then, Is a unilateral approach to total spirituality at the cost of the external a kind of a bringing our guard down and become vulnerable and in that case is it better to be sort of balanced and do both? No, absolutely. Absolutely! Because you must safeguard, -Yes. -your own interest if you like. I mean, if you are trying to, if you are developing a new paradigm of, you know, of satisfaction or of enjoyment or happiness or what you know, then it is your bounden duty to make sure that external factors don’t come and devastate us. I mean don’t come and sort of take you away. -Right. -So that I think… and we must learn from our own history that we were perhaps somewhere there, you know, in our past, but succumbed to external pressures from people who didn’t think in our ways. So, I think it is a… you should say that we want a, you know, you should be Saksham along with being swasth and, you know, and spiritually, you know, awakened. And this… -Yeah, I think we became too introverted at the cost of not being vigilant, perhaps. Absolutely and also, we assume quite wrongly and I think and maybe a little bit of our own like yeah, just this complacency that everybody else must necessarily think like us. -Yes. -And, but, you know, there is a, there is disbalance as you said and in life everything has to be balanced. So, you must not let your guard down and yet you must make sure that everybody knows that you are a country which has never invaded anybody else. -Yes. -Because you have been in some sense quite satisfied with what you have because you have (1) you have enough and (2) you have had this whole philosophy of saying that look, I don’t need, not all of us need palaces to live in. -Yes. -Because our happiness accrues from somewhere else. -We should optimize what we have. -If you optimize what you have, -for ourselves rather than going out for grabbing. -But also guard it. -Yes. -In a sense that not, nobody should come and be able to, you know, take this away from that. -Yes. -And then moreover, should never come a situation when we are told that because we think we are the way we do that we are backward. And then marginal… and that utilitarian doctrine… -Yes. -Of John Stuart Mill is the superior one and what you have done so far is, you know, only leaving you into backwardness. Sure. -I mean that is sheer nonsense. -Sure. -You know, so, and I… you know, we did give to rest of the world a lot. -A lot of and still are. -We still are, you know. So, I… But you are absolutely right that we need to make sure that we are strong, we are not vulnerable, and we give enough signals to the rest of the world that we cannot be taken for granted. And I in that’s the … too. And, you know, this strength, your inner strength gives you this ability to be able to do this.