Cultural Planning
TerraGreen|November 2020
Suggested Framework for Achieving Holistic Economic Progress
Ram Ramprasad

In this article, Ram Ramprasad says if India and the world need to transform, we must embrace a more holistic cultural framework. We need cultural planning as he suggests a framework for attaining a holistic economic advancement.

I am disenchanted—as most progressive people are—with economic progress worldwide, given its linear, mechanistic, and reductionist approach to development. This approach has created tragedies of ill health, climate change, and high costs in every sphere of life—ironically measured as GDP. If India and the world need to transform, we must embrace a more holistic cultural framework. Centuries ago, India emphasized ‘culture’ as the defining template for overall progress. This ‘archaic’ template is worth revisiting in the modern world.

In my view, there are two broad aspects that define culture. The first aspect is where we as individuals actively seek out and create harmony within ourselves; we call it spiritual (or self ) awareness. The second is where we seek to establish harmony outside of ourselves. These two broad aspects go together like two oxen pulling a cart. The former enables purity in thought and action.

There are several spiritual organizations within and outside of India that enable and foster inner transformation. As for harmony with the external world, there are three broad categories of development— ecological, political, and social. Emphasis on ecological culture means focusing on innovations that truly preserve and respect the five essential elements of nature, that is, air, water, fire, soil, and space. Our goal should be to create a circular economy. Most innovations to date have harmed all the five elements. Any harm to one element disrupts the others. For example, high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have made our oceans more acidic. We need to focus on those innovations, models, and processes that preserve, protect, foster, or do least harm to the five elements. I offer below examples of how we can accomplish this.

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