Make the economy transparent for social audit

By: Shreepal Singh

Humans are forced to indulge in economic activities by their needs. They by their make-up have an inbuilt basic instinct of always working to ensure their survival. This instinct of always working to ensure survival has a very wide spectrum. At the one-end lies, the base instinct of physical survival and at the other the instinct of dominance aimed at propagating of oneself by multiplication.

Between these two ends, there are all sorts of things like hatred, love, dominance, jealousy etc. by which ordinary humans are moved in their day-to-day behavior.

Not all persons are equal in respect of many matters. For example, they are not equals in respects of their physical or mental capacities or their educational and mental development. Likewise, they may be unequal in the matters of their economic and financial circumstances; owning resources and wealth; or, in their psychological make-up and personal traits. It is a concrete reality that humans are at variance with each other in such vital things for life. These differences in qualities and circumstances of individuals may be inborn or acquired by one’s efforts or, even, the result of the quirk of chance and circumstances.

The miniscule number of persons in any given society at any time is found to possess better education, mental and other personal initiative qualities/capabilities, better economic circumstances, more wealth. A very large number of persons in any given society at any time are found to possess lessor education, mental and other personal initiative qualities/capabilities, worse economic and circumstantial conditions, less or even no wealth.

In the self-governing political instrument of democracy, the uneducated and ignorant vast majority of ordinary persons, suffering under adverse economic and circumstantial conditions cannot and do not vote wisely in the matter of democratic self-governance. However, the miniscule numbers of persons possessing better education, personal qualities, economic means, and circumstantial conditions wisely use/misuse the votes of ignorant/uneducated majority in the matter of democratic self-governance and perpetuate their privileges/advantageous conditions.

It is vicious circle: the better-placed ones enhance their betterment and the worse placed ones, move from worse to worst. This vicious circle cannot be broken by the ordinary democratic means/process. History has seen, this vicious circle was broken by force/violence; but history has also seen, the persons who lead this breaking-up of this vicious circle by force/violence were themselves educated, mentally more endowed and capable. They broke the capitalist democratic vicious circle and replaced it with a system that perpetuated their privileges/ better conditions. In the bargain, though the vast majority of persons moved from worse to good economic conditions, they were coerced to work under violence and turned into mentally slaved.

Yesterday it was not possible to break this vicious circle except by the use of force but today it is possible to break this circle by the use of information technology.

This vicious circle can be broken by the use of information technology in two ways: Firstly, the people have a right to information in the matter of the cost of production of commodities / services incurred by the capital-investor and the price at which they are selling these commodities / services to the consumers/people at large.

The information technology can be used to inform the public in this regard under the pains of law. There cannot be any excuse or justification on the part of the manufacturers to deny this information to the public because the production is not a private affair of the manufacturer. The production of commodities / provision of services are a public affair because in these activities the nation’s resources, citizens’ work, government’s efforts are invested.

It could be made mandatory by law for the manufacturer of products to put on the company’s website the particulars of the cost incurred on such production under different heads (like salary paid to each of his workmen, rate at which raw material is purchased etc.) for the audit of the society.
Such information provided to the public will not only put the manufacturer under the public gaze and social scrutiny, it will also safeguard the interests of all the stake-holders of the manufacturing process, like government’s tax collection, employees’ welfare measures, availability of commodities at the reasonable rates to the public etc.

Secondly, the information technology can be used in the matter of the democratic self-governance. Such a measure will obviate the need, justification or reason on the part of the adversely effected humanity to resort to force or violence, which has plagued the human history hitherto.

In the matter of democratic self-governance, let us use this alternative to the violence resorted today by vast multitude of the disaffected and discontented humanity. Let the discontented humanity use the now-available technological means to break this vicious circle of greedy unlimited profit earning in the name of providing incentive. Let the technology replace the money-driven democracy of today with the people’s direct democracy. Let all public movements, like Occupy Wall Street etc., make this demand of transparency in economic activities their battle cry.

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