Is it not possible that every person is set free from the pains of poverty?
(Preface of the first book written by Alama Iqbal, ‘Ilm-ul-Iqtisad’)
Translated from Urdu by Abbas Ali
Economics discusses the routine business of human life and aims at investigating how people earn and use their income. So, on the one hand, it deliberates on wealth, and on the other hand, it is a branch of that vast knowledge the topic of which is man.
It is an accepted fact that a man’s ordinary business immensely affects his behaviour and his lifestyle. Even his mental capabilities, too, cannot remain entirely unaffected. Undoubtedly, in human history, religious principles have proven effective to a great extent. However, daily experiments and observations have confirmed that the practice of earning one’s livelihood accompanies a man all the time and secretly moulds his external and internal capabilities.
Just ponder to what extent human behaviour is affected by poverty or the scarcity of resources to satisfy the necessities of life. Poverty affects human capabilities immensely; even at times it makes the mirror of the human soul so dusty that morally and culturally, it becomes non-existent. The First Teacher – Aristotle, believed slavery to be the critical element for establishing human culture. However, religion and modern education emphasised man’s natural freedom, and the civilised nations gradually recognised that this inhuman difference among the categories was not an essential element for the establishment of culture. Instead, it destroyed it and cast a nasty effect on every aspect of human life.
In this way, the question is if poverty is an essential element in the world order? Is it not possible that every person is set free from the pains of poverty? Could it not so happen that the heart-wrenching cries of those who moan secretly in the streets stop permanently, and the tragic scene of poverty which torments the people with a compassionate heart, is erased from the page of life like a typo? To answer this question squarely is not the task of economics. Because to some extent the answer to this question depends upon the moral qualities of human nature. The experts of this knowledge do not have any particular source in their hands to explore these qualities. Because the answer depends mainly upon those facts and results encompassed in economics, this knowledge is fascinating to man, and its study is almost among the necessities of life.
The complaint against poverty is rampant over here; we are not educated thoroughly due to our weaknesses. We are unaware of those cultural factors considered the elixir for development and social welfare; studying economics and pondering its results is critical, particularly for Indians. Human history is witness to what occurred in those nations ignorant of their cultural and economic conditions. In his valuable speech, Maharaja of Baroda recently expressed that improving our current economic condition was the final medicine to all ailments. If they failed to use that prescription, they were likely to get destroyed. So, suppose Indians want to keep their name alive in the league of nations; in that case, they must study the principles of this knowledge and inquire into the causes becoming a hurdle in the way of national glory.
Writing these pages aims at explaining the fundamental principles of this knowledge in a commonly understood way. Moreover, it intends to deliberate how these common principles are relevant to the current Indian scenario. If a single person gets inspired to think over these issues, I would consider that my mental hardship has not gone to waste.
Here, in this preface, it seems pertinent to clarify that this book is not a translation of a particular English book (on economics). However, I have deduced its topics from different famous and authentic texts. I have expressed my opinion at certain places but only where I was confident about my opinion. So far as the language and the diction is concerned, it would be sufficient to say that I am not an inborn speaker of the language and terminology. As far as possible, I have tried to explain the real meaning of the economic principles and have been attempting in the Urdu language to follow the diction standard in academic English books. The difficulty of devising new literary terms is well known to all knowledgeable persons. I have designed some new words and have taken others from the Egyptian newspapers, which are in vogue in the modern Arabic language. Wherever I have provided a new meaning to an Urdu word, I have explained it too. At some places in this book, while following the English idiom, I have used personal pronouns in the meaning of the subjective adjective, e.g., in the sense of capitalists or labour in the definition of labourers. Although the readers of Urdu are unfamiliar with this idiom, it is easy to use that knowledgeable person can feel it. Various Persian phrases are used verbatim in Urdu; if I use translation of a nuanced English idiom, I do not think this would be objectionable.
Regarding terminology, I would like to submit that I have used Maang and Talab (Demand), Dastakari and Mehnat (Labor), Dastakari and Mehantii (laborer), Nafa and Munafa (Profit), Sahokar and Sarmayadar (Moneylender and Capitalist), Malik and Karkhanasar (Landlord) as synonyms. There is a subtle difference between Paydayish (produce) and Paydarwar (production); Produce implies the action, and production means the result. Similarly, I have used the word Tabadala (Exchange) at such a place where people exchange a good for other good. In the Arabic language, the word Makayefa conveys the meaning of such give and take, but this word is not commonly understood; therefore, I have avoided it.
Before concluding this preface, I would like to thank the esteemed teacher Arnold Sir, Professor Government College Lahore, who inspired me to write this book; these pages resulted from his blessings. I am also thankful to Lala Jayaram, (M.A) (Professor, Lahore College), and my friend, classmate, and colleague, Master Fazal Hussain, (B.A Cantab, Barrister at Law). They provided me with valuable books from their libraries and provided precious advice on some issues. In addition, respected Shibli Nomani also deserves my thanks for helpful language corrections in certain parts of this book.
—Abbas Ali is Lecturer in Economics at Dewan Bagh Baramulla. [email protected]