Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S- 'Swadeshi' comes a full circle

 S- 'Swadeshi' comes a full circle   
Mobile musings - the theme for this A to Z
challenge features a blog with pictures
clicked by me on my mobile phone

An ad promoting Local banking on a Tube station in London says thus : 

Five questions you should ask your bank :

Does your bank operate right across Britain and nowhere else ? 
Does your bank serve only local people and local businessmen and not big corporations ?
Does your Bank refuse to gamble your money in overseas speculations?
Does your bank say not to using its customers money to fund investment banking ? 
Does your bank use every penny of customer deposit to serve other customers ? 
Go Local
Picture shot on Panasonic DMZ
London, March 2014.
 If the answer to all this is YES thank you for banking with TSB 

If not maybe it is a time for change.   

A hundred years after  Gandhi  may have stood on this station, here appears an ad that propogates what he would in the course of history become famous for. But then we do not learn from History's lessons. Do we? 

Swadeshi – the Indian term used to denote locally produced things was initially adopted during the Independence struggle to boycott British goods and adopt locally made Indian homespun. It gained momentum during the freedom struggle in the early 1930's and was popularized by Gandhi. 

Millions of Indians heeded to his call and burnt down clothes that came from the mills in Manchester and Liverpool. An entire nation took to the charkha ( spinning wheel)  as a symbol that would denote self-reliance and to encourage the local industry rather than fall prey to imported goods.
After India gained independence and Gandhi fell to Godse’s bullets his ideals got dumped or atleast became unfashionable.  Swadeshi  in India had became synonymous to all goods and services that were inefficient and of poor quality.  A highly consumerist social culture combined with regressive economic policies by a highly regulated socialist government that was way behind schedule with its policies was to be partially blamed. 
Few people in the post independent India lived by Swadeshi ideals.

A little less than a hundred years on, the world economy went through turbulence.
In the 1980 and 1990’s the bankrupt nations of the world opened up to world trade to pay up their debts. Free trade across economies promised to liberate impoverished countries from stifling policies that hindered prosperity. The floodgates of unregulated capitalism governed solely by free market economy became the buzz word and many nations were now trading freely with each other.

In India, by the beginning of the new millennium  Pepsi replaced Parle,  Ambassador and Maruti retired to make way for Hyundai, Ford, Honda and BMW.   HMT got relegated to nostalgia and a trivia question in business quizzes.
Elsewhere in the western world jobs shifted towards cheaper economies and so did the manufacturing industries. By the time we entered the new millennium the money started flowing eastwards. India and China became the back office and the manufacturer of the world respectively.
The service sector, the manufacturing sector and all other local jobs in the Anglo Saxon – capitalist economies slowly started eroding away. Jobs in the services sector were getting 'Bangalored' and the Industrial sector were getting  'Hangzhoued'. 

The information technology revolution closed in the barriers even further.  Money, the currency that determines the strength of a nation's economy also started moving freely across borders.
Soon it was a connected world.  A highly connected complex world.  The enormity of its complexity was difficult to fathom. 

As I copy this using a simple keystroke that was probably programmed by an Indian software programmer  employed by Microsoft an American product company whose patented  Microsoft product I am using ( MS WORD), on a laptop whose brand is American but is manufactured in China  and published over a blog of a multinational that is probably headquartered in Ireland or Cayman Islands.

Anyway, when global  capitalism was on a roll through the early start of the millennium, two old boys in downtown Manhattan brushed against each other. Boys they were.  Old enough but not wise enough.  Let’s call them Henry and Dick. No... that is too close to reality .

Humpty Dumpty
Picture shot on Nokia 520
April 2014  
Let us call them Humpty and Dumpty.
Because they played Humpty Dumpty in front of the entire world.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the kings’ horses and all the king’s men
Could not put Humpty Dumpty together again.

That is how the old nursery rhyme goes.  
However in capitalist world Humpty had the last laugh.
He pushed Dumpty down. Dumpty cried.
Dumpty cannot fail. The world cried. 
If he fails, he takes the entire global economy down.  We are all connected. Cried Dumpty and his petrified friends.
But Humpty had worked out his plans. Eventually only Dumpty fell fatally. All the others were rescued over safety nets and were put on artificial respiration. But Dumpty met his fatal end.   
The world economy collapsed. Capitalism failed. 
 All the kings’ horses and all the king’s men
Have  been trying to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Wisdom came at a cost.  
Nations went bankrupt. 
Corporations closed down and millions went homeless.  
But we all learnt a lesson.  The world over.

The consumer consciousness grew.  Capitalism or rather unabashed capitalism was now looked down upon.  The Common man questioned his government , his bankers, his farmers and his supermarket from where he bought home the bacon. 
Investing locally, being accountable locally, doing small scale business and reaping responsible profits became the mantra. This time around, this was not in India. But in Britain.

Swadeshi has come a full circle.
And thus when on a tube station in London, TSB bank, a local British bank advertised this, it came after consumer activism in what was the citadel of capitalism and a country that propogated free trade. 

Mahatma Gandhi, the man who who popularized ‘Swadeshi’ would have been proud. He probably lived near this tube station about 125 years ago when he was training to be a Barrister at law.

Who would have thought that in less than a couple of centuries  ‘Swadeshi’ would indeed come a full circle?

But then again ... who knows History has a tendency to repeat itself again and again.  



  1. To be honest with you, the first question would scare me away. I do not want my bank to operate only in one country (not to mention that Britain is not even the whole country at that).
    Great post though, very thought-provoking and I'm glad you shared it!

  2. Excellent post and makes one think.


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