Retaining BALANCE

  • September 9 2021
  • @MRVChennai


As a fervent believer in the India story and as a newsman, I have observed from close quarters, the shift in the arc of the Indian economy from the onset of liberalisation to the push towards Atma Nirbhar Bharat. And in the middle of it all, I have witnessed firsthand, the squeamishness to own the India story with the confidence it deserves.


The true potential of the Indian economy cannot be actualised by ignoring its rich culture and glorious civilisation, the beliefs that bind us over several millennia which forms the foundation of all our societal norms. M. R. Venkatesh in this book has carried out an empirical exercise to visualise that ‘Bhartiya’ culture is where the future of the Indian economy lies. 


A macro-economic understanding of the Indian economy cannot come from subtracting civilisational dimensions of critical importance.


M. R. Venkatesh has by writing “Retaining Balance” provided a contemporary yet civilisational perspective on current day economics and has seamlessly communicated how ‘culture is symbiotically linked to the world of economics.’ In the process he has raised a profound question of what constitutes the discipline of economics. If human beings are central to economics, it is obvious that the rich corpus of what constitutes human evolution too has to be integral to the study of economics. 


Political economy or economics cannot confine itself to a study to truncate the discipline and treat humans as a bundle of demands of for that matter rights, which the all-powerful state or markets can bestow or bludgeon. The more economics drifted away from its alter-ego – culture and civilization, it became more recondite and abstruse. 


It is time that experts revisited the discipline of economics as a product of culture, as an emanation of its intricacy and as the summum bonum of its quest. This is what “Retaining Balance” all about. 


M. R. Venkatesh’s work is solution-oriented -- not only does he successfully bring to light as to how the current international order modeled on the west is ridden with serious flaws but goes on to unravel a truly native solution to it. He has succinctly traversed through the need for the ‘institution of monogamous marriage’ as the basis for a strong economy and how family is the ‘the First Building Block in an Economy’. He has copiously drawn from the Bhagavad Gita, for example, as he elucidates on the idea of ‘placing duty above everything’ that is lost in western philosophy. Simultaneously, he has adduced and juxtaposed concepts like entropy in Thermodynamics and Homeostasis in biology to give a scientific explanation for how ‘exclusion of the missing middle’ i.e., the middle ground between markets and governments is proving fatal to the management of economics.


The book analyses theories of the west, provides well-researched contrasts of the Orient, and makes a case for balance between overarching governance, markets, social institutions, individual duties and civilisational restraints. M.R. Venkatesh has studied, broken down, condensed, analysed and questioned the ideas of those like Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Francis Fukuyama, William Tucker, Samuel Huntington, Paul Kengor and Yuval Noah Harari. He makes a novel case to not only realise the pitfall in Nehruvian economics but actively break away from it. This makes the book a compelling read for those in power who seek to break out of those decrepit ideas.


Throughout the book, M. R. Venkatesh has raised pressing questions that often get overlooked - how did British colonisation and its corrosive taxation regime impact Indian civilisation? Whether the questions posed in any macro-economic modeling are obnoxiously simplified? Whether there is an appropriate weightage provided to families and their decision-making process? And importantly, is the antidote to cyclical economic boom and doom available with us in the form of cultural and civilisational values rooted to individual restraints?


Retaining Balance makes a fascinating case to break free from the conventional rigmarole of western thinking. Rooted in Bhartiyata thoughts, idea and civilization the book makes a persuasive case for rethinking the economic narrative from a critical lens by relying on ‘eternal ideas’. One such eternal idea that he has constantly referenced is the idea of individual duty. He identifies and notes how ‘eternal ideas flow from ancient texts like the Ramayana or the Mahabharath where at every twist and turn the virtues of adhering to one’s duty is repeatedly emphasised’’ The logical endgame in this argument of Venkatesh is that the Constitution of India needs to factor individual duties along with rights and make such duties justiciable. 


M. R. Venkatesh has been unafraid to venture into a more theological perspective. He urges us to move away from the Christian idea of the “broken self,” and “a corresponding reliance on an external divinity to provide salvation” towards a more inclusive and perhaps efficient concept of Rama Rajya. He highlights how ‘the life-message of Lord Rama explained through Ramayana only re-emphasises the prerequisite for building the national economy through individual restraint.’ 


In a New India, where the nation is charting the course to be a superpower, this book is a timely reminder that the solution may just lie in our cultural and civilization roots. It advocates a fundamentally Indian perspective to economics, that is not based on isolation, excessive regulation, or western dominance. At a time when India is making its place felt in the new world order, the current ideas handed down by the west and the Left must be reconsidered in governance, policy[1]making, and individual choices. ‘Retaining Balance- The Eternal Way’ is anessential first step for all those looking to understand how our economic system can level-up.


My friend M. R. Venkatesh is both a practicing lawyer and a qualified Chartered Accountant. He thinks critically, is deeply well-read, and remains acutely precise in problems he identifies and solutions he provides. As someone who has known him for years now, interacted with him on-air, and has been friends off-air, agreed with him, and debated against him - one thing I can say with certainty is that his book is a highly relevant and thought-provoking read. It made me, and I am sure it will make any reader, see the Indian economy and the global economy from a whole new lens.


Arnob Goswami, MD and Editor-in-chief of Republic Media Network, New Delhi. 10.08.2021.


To read PREFACE click on PDF   Excerpts from comments below.


Ashwin Sanghi, Author wrote, “M R Venkatesh’s book Retaining Balance is a work that can be loved or hated but cannot be ignored. He passionately argues for placing families at the centre of all programs and succeeds in getting one to question policies that we take for granted as common sense. There is something in this book that will rankle almost all groups—leftist, rightist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Brahmin, Dalit, liberal, conservative, capitalist, socialist—and Venkatesh seems happy to cock a snook at everything that policymakers have considered inalienable. Voltaire famously said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Read this with a bookmark of Voltaire’s words nestled within the pages.”


Savio Rodrigues, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Goa Chronicl, “To understand economics is to understanding the nature of balances. The author MR Venkatesh in ‘Retaining Balance - The Eternal Way’ opens your mind to understanding economics by understanding the nature of balances. Understanding the nature of balances comes from understanding nature itself. Economy moves with society; and society moves ahead with different push and pulls driven by economic activities. The book is well-written and interesting in its analysis of retaining balance in the world today which is bordering on chaos and anarchy. Retaining Balance notes that national economics works on the four fundamental principles of production, consumption, Retaining balance argues that these cycles are an inevitable by-product of individual excesses and points out that the most natural and effective way of addressing this imbalance is through the institution of family. Therefore, it argues that it is imperative that economic policies world over must revert to placing family at the centre of policy frameworks globally.”


Anand Ranganathan, Author and Scientist, “ A remarkable book that traces the quest for balance any individual strives for, having to juggle civilizational proprieties, cultural checks, and constitutional curbs on his liberty, both economic as well as social. MRV has done quite the impossible here: chart out a journey that ends with elucidating principles that not so much liberate one to maintain balance as they do to retain it. A must read for laymen and professionals alike.”


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