Economic Thoughts of Dattopant Thengdi

News Bharati    07-Feb-2020
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-Ravindra Mahajan

Introduction: Dattopant Thengdi was a holistic thinker and a visionary social architect. He was the prominent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue after the late M S Golwalakr alias Shri Guruji and Deendayal Upadhyay. Thengdi‘s comprehensive grasp of RSS vision helped him explain many concepts by Dr. Hedgewar, Shri Guruji and Deendayalji and with his practical approach he gave a new dimension to such enunciations like “Sangh and Samaj are Samavyapt, “progressive unfoldment of the vision of Sangh work, “Sangh will not do anything but whatever is essential will eventually happen, “Not building a new nation but rebuilding of the nation, “not a (violent) revolution but yuganukool Parivartan.

He emphasized holistic thinking and presented economic thoughts in this perspective. Beginning with the need to define the policies of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh he ultimately wrote on the global economic policies. He thoroughly studied hundreds of Bharatiya and foreign books on various subjects such as philosophy, history, political science, economics, management, revolutions, etc. in his busy schedule of an itinerant pracharak. He firmly believed that the basic Hindu darshan –philosophy and life-view - is comprehensive enough and stressed that only by retaining its root principles and a yuganukool or practical implementation of these eternal principles coupled with conducive knowledge - not just from the West but from all over the world - the task of nation- rebuilding can be carried out. He articulated this idea through his writings.

He emphasized that Ekatma Manav Darshan (Integral Humanism)1—a yuganukool approach based on the eternal principles of Sanatan Dharma must be the basic national philosophy for rebuilding the nation and our policies in various fields of national life should be formulated in its light.


Before elucidating on economic thoughts of Dattopant Thengdi, it will be appropriate to glance through some fundamental concepts emphasized by him.

1. Bharat, with Sanatana Dharma as its absolute reference, ‘All is One’ as its ultimate realization and its continuously evolving socio-economic order in the light of the unchanging, eternal, universal principles, is eminently suited to play the role of Jagadguru.

2. The destination was visualized on the Vijayadashami day of 1925:

- Our destination is the 'Param Vdibhavam', the pinnacle of glory, of the Hindu Rashtra.

- The starting-point of the journey is the commitment to certain Articles of Faith like One People (Jana), i.e. Hindu; One Culture (Sanskriti), i.e. Hindu; One Nation (Rashtra), i.e. Hindu; One Country (Desha), i.e. Akhanda Bharat; One Order (Vyavastha), i.e. Dharma-Rajya (not a theocratic state but based on values for social sustenance)

3. The integral approach is a must for durable and desirable progress and development; the compartmentalized thinking, giving rise to value-free economics, is self-defeating.

4. He emphasized the Hindu thought process. “We should keep in mind that the fundamental thought process should be our basis. Once the hypothetical philosophical and academic order is established the corresponding social reality can follow automatically –this is the western thought process. Observing and understanding the phenomenon in social reality and eventual development of conclusions and theories-- is the Hindu thought process. For this collective thinking is also essential”.

5. Regarding standing on the firm base of history but without getting trapped into it and daring to look into and create future he says ―The Hindu nationalists know for sure that history without futurology would be fruitless, while futurology without history would be rootless. Our heritage enables us to be cautious without being conservative and dynamic without being adventurist.

6. He reiterated the need for the integral order anticipated by Hindu way of life that seeks the balance and harmony between the materialistic and spiritual values of life.

7. Dattopant Thengdi did not find it advisable or practicable to think in terms of a blueprint.

8. Practical thinkers like Manavendra Nath Roy, Deendayal Upadhyay, Swatantryaveer Savarkar, Marx or Lenin refused to present any utopia because according to them, it was an exercise in futility… A blueprint may be evolved in course of actual implementation in the light of the broad guiding principles of the basic ideology, and that too by a trial and error method.


Dattopant Thengdi summarized the Hindu paradigm, in comparison to the Western one, in Quo Vadis, an introduction to the book ‘Hindu Economics’ Compartmentalized included in the expenses as manager and direct labor.

There should be a balance between the price of farm products and the cost of manufactured products in the industry (Terms of trade).

He was the founder of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) and laid down that BKS should work for the progress of the entire village as one family. He stated ―We don‘t have faith in class struggle. It is non-applicable. The government will do everything and that would lead to the progress of the country –this is not the right notion. We have faith in the power of people and that will control the political power as well.

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He was in favor of the industrialization of the country but he was insistent that instead of blindly following the West, industrialization should be carried out as per the needs of the country and in our own way. Some of the important points put forward by him are:

1. He founded Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and its motto is Industrialize the nation, Nationalize the Labour, Labourize the Industry (Rashtra ka Udyogikaran, Sharamikon ka Rashtriyakaran, Udyogon ka Shramikikaran) i.e. imbibing that national interest is ‘supreme’ brings out the elements of industrial policy.

2. Maximum decentralization of large and medium industry in household units making a home, the center of production.

3. Use of appropriate technology and ensuring environmental protection.

4. The ownership of the industry should be decided on practical considerations. As per the needs of the industry and in the interests of the country the ownership can be with government, cooperative, local government, private or joint ownership by government and private)

5. He demanded integrated (ekatmik) economic policy including production policy, income policy, price policy and wages policy in October 1968.

6. Observing the maladministration of the banking sector that provides the capital to industries, he suggested establishing Swayatta Vittiya Nigam (Autonomous Financial Corporation) way back in April 1971. Banks Board Bureau, an autonomous government organization has now been established in February 2016 to improve the management of government-owned banks.


The success of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) itself demonstrates that a nationalist labor movement without foreign ideology can flourish in India. Dattopant Thengdi proclaimed some basic ideological points19 in the very inaugural meeting of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh on July 23, 1955.

1. The interests of the country come first, and then the interests of industry and labor and in that order.

2. BMS will be a non-political labor organization, an organization of the workers, for the workers and by the workers that will be far away from party politics.

3. It will be based on the Bharatiya economic thought and culture

4. Structure of society that is free from exploitation and abuse and based on justice and harmony.

5. Honest work for the upliftment of Dalits, oppressed, neglected and downtrodden persons in society.

While talking on labor policy and advising workers he did not limit his thinking about issues directly concerning workers alone but contemplated the economic life of the entire country and total national life. Some examples:

1. ‘Industrialize the nation, Nationalize the labor, Labourize the industry’ these slogans by Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh gave an apt answer to the slogan ‘Nationalization of all industries’ by the Communists. BMS’ idea of ‘Labourisation‘ of Industries promoted an idea where workers would collectively own and manage industrial units.

2. BMS’ slogan “We will work in the interest of the country and take full wage for the work done” (Desh ki hit me karenge kaam, kaam ke lenge poore daam ) was an answer to the slogan by Communists “chahe jo majburi ho, hamari mange poori ho” whatever may be the difficulties, our demands must be fulfilled.

3. Instead of ‘capital-oriented economic structure’ he demanded ‘labor-oriented economic structure’ to eradicate poverty and unemployment. This expression brings out major aspects of BMS goals.

4. Efficiency and productivity are important but it is essential to take measures to retain employment.

5. Considering labor as capital and with a proper valuation of work of workers, workers should be given a share in profit, participation in management and some ownership.

6. The nation should have right over the surplus value created in the production process. The owner and workers should not grab it exclusively for themselves.


While writing an introduction to Dr. Daya Krishna‘s book “Swadeshi View of Globalization” (pp.viii-ix), Dattopant wrote “Genuine ‘Globalization’ is a part of Hindu heritage. In ancient times we always considered ourselves as part and parcel of the entire humanity. We never cared to carve out for ourselves a separate identity. We identified ourselves with the entire mankind. ‘The whole earth is our family’ वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम (Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam) - has been our motto. That is why the term ‘Hindu’ has no antiquity; it is not to be found in ancient literature… But now the roles are reversed. ‘Globalization’ is being preached to us by those who are known to history for their imperialistic exploitation and even genocide. Satans are quoting Bible. Hegemonism parading itself as globalization!

As a matter of fact, the measure that could have substantially helped the process of genuine globalization was the reconstitution of the United Nations with additional representatives of religious groups, ethnic groups, transnational trade unions, environmental movements, human rights associations, welfare organizations, and other appropriate agencies from civil societies.”

But globalization today has become a symbol and means of capitalist greed, looting and exploitation. Constant attempts are on for selfish gains and to obtain a monopoly in the market by hook or crook.

According to Dattopant Thengdi, the thought of Swadeshi and mutual cooperation among the countries in the southern hemisphere would guide us to march ahead. Strengthening the system of UNO would perhaps enable to counter unjust systems. At the same time, it should be ensured that the interests of the country are not ruined bowing under any pressure.


He opposed the World Trade Organization because it became a means of exploitation of developing and under-developed countries. Rules and regulations are essential for world trade but they should be fair and equal to all countries. They should not be unreasonably arduous. Since the rules are not such, he opposed WTO at the formative stage itself.


Dattopant Thengdi defined Swadeshi as the practical manifestation of patriotism. This is a very appealing definition of Swadeshi agreeable to all and brings out the national spirit and the intent of the action. However, he explained that patriotism does not mean turning your back to other countries but, following the principle of Ekatma Manav Darshan (only one consciousness residing among all humanity. We are always ready for international cooperation based on equality and mutual respect.

He wrote “It is wrong to presume that ‘Swadeshi’ concerns itself only with the goods or services. That is more an incidental aspect. Essentially, it concerns the spirit determined to achieve national self-reliance, preservation of national sovereignty and independence, and international co-operation on equal footing.... 'Swadeshi' was not merely an economic affair confined to material goods but a broad-based ideology embracing all departments of national life.

While speaking on Swadeshi economic policies he emphasized the following points:

1. Value-based competition and cooperation

2. Economic equality and opportunity

3. No exploitation of nature but milking of nature

4. Self- employment and not just salaried employment.

Apart from these he frequently talked about the following points too:

5. Our paradigm of progress and economic policy to be in keeping with our

culture and social life. i.e. family system, ethics, restrained consumption,

environment friendliness, care of non-active members of society (children, aged

and handicapped), stress on savings, and balance between decentralization and


6. Appropriate technology

7. National self- reliance (not self-sufficiency)

8. Fulfillment of basic needs-food, clothing, shelter, education, and health

9. Importance of not just economic stimulus but other non-economic incentives

10.Antyoday (uplifting of the weakest section of the society)


1. Dattopant Thengdi stressed that the consumer interest is closest to the national interest.

2. Proper consideration should be given to consumer interest in all the economic affairs and representatives of consumers should be accorded a place in all economic deliberative and decision-making bodies and fora.

3. The selling price should be printed on every product and also the cost of production of that product. He put forward this demand through Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch. He believed that this will ensure a proper check on profiteering by manufacturers and retailers in the country. The same rule should be applied to foreign goods as well.

4. He also called for publishing cost audit reports of the companies and making available copies of the reports of Bureau of Industrial Costs and Prices.


In the background of the withering away of Communism and the probable collapse of Capitalism sooner than later, the search for a “THIRD WAY” is already on the radar of Western countries including the United States. Peter Drucker and Paul Samuelson and other thinkers had foreseen the inevitability of the collapse of capitalism, though their public expressions were sufficiently guarded.

Thengdi says, “We must conceive our own model of progress and development in the light of our culture, our past traditions, present requirements and aspirations for the future. The tradition of ever-changing socio-economic order in the light of the unchanging, eternal, Universal Laws of Dharma, is the foundation of the process envisaged by the Hindu vision of life. That is why the need to create integral national consciousness mentioned earlier to focus on traditional Hindu ethos. Any alternative to development that is not in keeping with the cultural core of society would not be beneficial to society.

“Clamour of mankind for Third Way - After the pathetic failure of Western ideologies, the destiny is prompting Bharat to provide the new leadership to the world groping in darkness. Mankind is eager for the new order that is called ‘THIRD WAY’. The moral and god-entrusted responsibility to usher in this Third Way, which in fact is the only way, rests on Bharat. Only, the group of patriots dedicated to the goal of national reconstruction is eligible for this work. They will play a pivotal role in creating a new comprehensive world view (Weltanschauung)”.

He opined that Ekatma Manav Darshan (Integral Humanism) is the third and the only way.


Dattopant Thengdi has written extensively on various economic aspects and has also provided guidance in numerous abhyasvargas (training sessions). This article includes some of his important thoughts. Swami Vivekananda explained Vedanta in the West in the practical form (Practical Vedant). Dattopant Thengdi used the words science (shastra) and applied science (upayojit shastra). He explained everything in the light of Sanatan Dharma, Ekatma Manav Darshan or holistic thought perspective.

His reflections are echoes, extension and elucidation of the thoughts of Shri Guruji and Deendayal Upadhyay. However, his innovative guidance proved useful for the new scenario as well (globalization, liberalization, etc.). He initiated many organizations and his thoughts were very practical based on the direct experiences in those fields. That is why he holds a distinct position of an ideologue of first rank as well as a social architect who managed a perfect harmony between principles and practice.


1. Dattopant Thengdi Jeevan Darshan Volume 3, Editor: Amar Nath Dogra, Suruchi

Prakashan, New Delhi, 2015, (Hindi) p.19

2. Tisarya Paryayakade Anusarjan-Rupabandh of Dattopant Thengdi‘s book THIRD

WAY. Anusarjak: Dr Bapu Kendurkar, Moraya Prakashan, Dombivli,1998 (Marathi) p.297

3. THIRD WAY by Dattopant Thengdi, Second Edition by Sahitya Sindhu Prakashan,

Bengaluru. e-Book p.36

4. Ibid p.67

5. Ref.2, p.280

6. Ibid p.293

7. Ibid p.289

8. Ibid p.6 from Introduction by Bhanupratap Shukla

9. Ref.3, p.79

10. Future of Parliamentary System in India by D. B.Thengdi, Akhil Bhartiya Adhivakta Parishad, 1997, p.46-48

11. Ref.2, p.23

12. Ibid p.25

13. Ref.3, p.86

14. Ref.1, Vol.8, p.18

15. Ibid p.19

16. Ibid p.56

17. Ibid vol2, p.6

18. Ibid vol4, p.62

19. Ibid vol1, p.

20. Ref.3, p.176

21. Ibid p.60

22. Ibid p60

23. Ref.2 p.46

24. Ibid p.279

(Ravindra Mahajan is former Akhil Bharatiya Sahasamyojak of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch. Contact 9969069492 Email:- Translated from original Marathi by Sharmila Bhagwat. Contact 9967186859, Email:-