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The Social Value of Commerce

By Karmayogi

Sri Aurobindo says that the earliest preoccupation of man is the search for God, Freedom, Light and Immortality. That is man's spiritual quest. This is reflected in his social life as the quest for equality in Knowledge, Power, Status and Capacity. The first visible sign was Martin Luther's break with the Church by which he proclaimed to the world that every man born is equal in the eyes of God. The priest's special right to represent God to others was denied. Man, the Individual, was thus emancipated from the thraldom of Church, the organisation. Kings ruled the nations.

The divine right theory sanctioned their right to rule. Democracy was ushered in and every citizen was accorded the right to choose the ruler as well as become the ruler if he is chosen. The granting of the right is great, but the right becomes meaningful only when it carries the commensurate Power, Knowledge and Capacity. Universal education disseminates knowledge, while Power remains the close preserve of the throne as well as the elite. As science advances, technology develops, resulting in various modern products that make life elegant and enjoyable. Equality as a right is intangible and nebulous. Palatial buildings, status symbols like car, capacity to contact VIPs, etc. are symptoms of power, even symbols of power. These were the exclusive possession of the elite and the royalty. Advancing technology enables the common man to possess and enjoy what only the elite and royalty possessed so far. In that sense, technology brings the exclusive power of the elite to be distributed among all. Technology alone cannot do it. Someone has to convert that technology into a product such as a car so that it reaches all. Thus, commerce is the economic equivalent of democracy in politics. Commerce is the social ideal of equality.

We in India crave for education of quality to all. The government is unable to provide it. We rely on a few charitable persons. It does not reach all. Recently people found out that education is commercially viable as well as profitable. Quality education is spreading far and wide. It is not nice to see people coming to education to make profits. We see man is not ideal. Idealistic people are incapable of giving themselves a strong foundation of money, which is essential for service. Man is selfish, will work only for a profit. In today's human climate, unless some good service becomes commercially viable, it cannot reach the entire population. This is the social value of commerce. All great values were developed in England by commerce.
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