Economic Survey invokes scriptures against loan defaults

It cites Hindu ‘doctrine of pious obligation,’ the Prophet’s sayings and a Psalm on the need to repay debts

Published - July 04, 2019 11:38 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Chief Economic Adviser K.V. Subramanian releasing the Economic Survey in New Delhi .

Chief Economic Adviser K.V. Subramanian releasing the Economic Survey in New Delhi .

The Economic Survey 2019 delves into religion and mythology to provide a theological basis against loan defaults and for the uplift of women.

“In India, where social and religious norms play such a dominant role in influencing behaviour, behavioural economics can provide a valuable instrument for change,” the Survey said.

On the Hindu “doctrine of pious obligation”, it said the scriptures ordain that if a person’s debts are not paid and he dies in a state of indebtedness, his soul may have to face “evil consequences”. Therefore, it is the duty of the indebted person’s children to “save him from such evil consequences”.

The Survey quoted Prophet Muhammed as having said: “O Allah, I seek refuge with You from sin and heavy debt.”

“A person cannot enter Paradise until his debt is paid off,” it explained. “All of his wealth could be used to pay the debt and if it is insufficient, then one or more heirs of the deceased could voluntarily pay for him.”

Seeking further theological grounding to curb loan defaults, the Survey then quoted Psalm 37:21 from the Christian scripture: “The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives.” “Thus, the repayment of debt in one’s own life is prescribed as necessary by scriptures across religions,” it said.

However, the Chief Economic Adviser’s use of Hindu scriptures didn’t just stop at an attempt to reduce wilful default, co-opting India’s religious texts to focus on the status of women.

“Indian women have enjoyed a position of respect and reverence in ancient Indian society,” the Survey said. “Ardhanarishwar — a half male-half female representation of Lord Shiva — captures the equality between men and women.”

The Rig Veda saw many women sages as “treasures of knowledge and foresight” such as prophetess Gargi, who questioned the origin of all existence in her Vedic hymns, and Maitreyi, who rejected half her husband’s wealth in favour of spiritual knowledge.

“The long philosophical conversations between sage Agastya and his highly educated wife Lopamudra are legendary,” the Survey added.

The survey concludes the topic by saying that since such positive mythological insights about gender equality are readily available in Indian society, these can be used as part of the ‘Beti Aapki Dhan Lakshmi Aur Vijay Lakshmi’ (BADLAV) message that should be spread.

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