Growth in nature is always balanced and multi-faceted; while ecosystems, grow, others decline. At the same time, everything is reused and transformed into new species and environments. This biological concept of development is an unfolding of species and organisms till they reach their potential; very different from our modern definition of growth that prioritises profit over everything else. A large part of the 20th century management philosophy around capitalism is based on what Milton Friedman propagated – the business of business is business i.e. profit maximization at the cost of everything else.
At one level, this is counter to everything we are taught at school, do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. The belief is that if everyone looks after himself then some ‘invisible hand’ will ensure that everyone will be better off. This hasn’t really happened anywhere in the world as inequality has reached new highs. Non-financial criteria, such as environment and biodiversity, are considered ‘externalities’ and not included in their assessments – and that is exactly what the problem is today. The things we have forgotten to measure, or considered as externalities are fighting back. While wealth metrics have increased over the years, the damage to other things has been immense.5838
The world was running on shaky foundations, a constant frenzy of production, consumption and chaos. It’s all quiet now.
Almost like a lull before another storm which will hit. Job losses, recession and business closures are just around the corner. While governments are hard at work to cushion the shock, the frenzy of activity that we saw a few months back may not emerge. Business leaders are speaking of social distancing, staggered opening of businesses, tapering demand from consumers and a reimagination of what a new economy would look like.
Migrant workforce and daily wagers who have been hard hit by the absence of money and a complete loss of dignity are worried too. They don’t want to stay in a cruel city anymore, they long for their villages, family and homes they have left behind.
All in all, we are in the middle of a massive mess which is further being exacerbated by the things we ignored for the last 20 years – inequality and climate change. Inequality to a great degree means that people need to work even when they are sick, and they can then spread the disease to others. Lack of ecological management means that there are large masses of land in our cities and villages that have been degraded due to overuse, waste and poor management. These impact quality of water and air leading to worsening of health conditions.5807