Altruistic Capitalism or State Financing — The Way to Finance Sustainable Development Goals

The recent announcement by Reliance Industries Limited for building the world’s largest Zoo in Gujarat, Jamnagar, which will be housing 300 different species from across the world, can be considered a bright spot where private enterprises are working towards conserving the environment. However, it is not the first time when something like this has come to light. In 1985, the Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Foundation was set up to formalize the efforts of Godrej towards the conservation of the mangrove ecosystem of Vikhroli along the West bank of the Thane creek. Considering the rich biodiversity of mangrove forests, Godrej took all efforts for protection right from the beginning. And decades later we witness a rich bio-diversity of species, which is not only helping in fundamental research but also in maintaining temperature and humidity.

For ages, capitalism or privatization is co-related with profit-making units. Yet, the very definition of capitalism never stated that. In the recent past, we have seen many examples; where private enterprises or individuals have done successful ventures in societal development and environmental preservation. So, Is this time for the State to take a back seat? Are private companies or individuals going to work altruistically? What if there is a change of heart? What if some distorting elements came in?

In the wake of a global pandemic, after being locked up for so many months people have grown more conscious about their surroundings. The data recently released by Google about “The Most Googled Questions of 2020” gives us a glimpse of how much this pandemic has affected their attitude towards their surroundings, “How to stop climate change?” is one of the most searched questions along with “How not to be racist” “How to stop structural racism?” & “How to be a good teacher” also made it to the list of top 10 questions.

The pandemic not only brought this change of attitude but also the spirit of humanity amongst people. As it affected all the people equally, people started to show care for those whom they once thought were inferior to them. People opening up “free ration” houses for the needy, to the ones who donated money for the needy, all united to work for a common cause that led to the survival of many. It can be argued that this change of heart is short-lived. However, if given a proper direction it may sustain in the society and bring in immense change for the betterment.

State Financing is a good source of getting funds and more importantly a “permanent” source. However, the intervention of the political parties, the leakages in the system, and the management inefficiencies lead to delay inaction by the authorities at the right moment and its implementation. The infiltrators in the bureaucratic system discourage the industrialist at the same time. The other obstacle is the minimum to no representation of women, environmentalists, experts, and industrialists in the governing system. Furthermore, the big numbers are assigned in the budget-making to headlines, but in reality, at times it takes years for authorities to get those funds. Besides strict laws on paper for equality, it is hard to change the mindset of the people and give social justice to all.

So, Is Altruistic Capitalism a solution to the above-stated arguments? Certainly to a great extent, in recent times where many YouTubers, Social Workers, and Industrialists, made a huge amount of contribution to help the needy. Not only from their own pockets, but from the mass collection also. Through online platforms, running enumerate drives to help people. This also showcased how people can organize themselves if headed in the right direction. Are people going to continue to contribute? To what extent they will? These questions can be answered by the simple word “results” if people get to see their money is making a difference it gives them self-satisfaction of making difference in society. Many researchers have also found that people feel happier by contributing to someone else’s welfare and sensing it they feel more encouraged to get indulge in such causes.

Though it’s not an easy task to encourage people for altruistic funding, it is seen those small initiatives like sending them a thanking message and making them feel that their contribution made a difference, also give them delightfulness and change their outlook towards things. The talk of altruistic capitalism is moreover the result of awareness spread amongst the people through the lamp of knowledge and development of connections across the world, which is bringing in the role of people in the society as a whole, and not of State alone.

Going back to, Is this time for the State to take a back seat? Rather the answer is “No” as it still got the role of organizing and regulating people, avoiding disruptions, and providing a platform for these groups to come forward. Not only that, but at places, authority intervention is necessary as people may question the authority of others and especially in the case of social justice and law and order. But it can be said that a window should be opened up for the public to participate in such activities.

Coming to, Are private companies or individuals going to work altruistically? What if there is a change of heart? To this only time can tell but risking a chance will be worth it. Alongside, the encouragement and incentives provided by the State can play a vital role. The lessening of paperwork, the co-operation by bureaucrats and some aid by State can bring in betterment in society and the will of people.

To conclude, the role of the State in the financing of SDGs can’t be completely excluded, but can be lessened and space can be created for people and enterprises to come forward and participate in the functioning of the State, with State working backstage instigating wherever and whenever required for the achievement of Goals and Social Welfare for economic development.

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Experimenting every Thursday with a new article. Here you will find topics from all walks of life.