Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Gandhi's humility led him to believe, "I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and non-violence are as old as the hills." Yes, truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills; but organized nonviolent resistence to an unjust law was new when Gandhi led the march to Dandi opposing the Salt Act. Satyagraha was Gandhiji's great social invention. Dr. King used this invention to liberate Afro-americans from the unjust laws of segregation. Social inventions improve the relational landscape among humans, whereas industrial inventions improve the material landscape. Satyagraha is a "trimtab" social invention. A trimtab is a small control device that influences a larger control device, such as a small boat rudder used to move a large boat rudder. Satyagraha in India was the small rudder that eventually moved the larger rudder of the British Empire, causing the Empire to change direction. A trimtab social invention may at first appear too simple to work. A good example of this is another social invention - the talking stick used by many of Americas indigenous people before the European invasion. It is an amazing tool for resolving conflict. I have never seen it fail, and have used it dozens of times to resolve intractable conflicts. Yet. on the surface, it appears so simple that people often fail to use it because of the belief that it is "too simple to work." The Hindu Saint, Shree Maa of Kamakhya, has put forth another social invention that holds great promise. The outline of this invention is called "Family Wealth Presentation", and can be found at This Presentation is brief, only 21 slides. Yet, it contains within it many seeds that will bear wonderful fruit for any family that plants and cultivates well. The seeds of this social invention, when planted in a family unit, empowers the family unit to preserve and increase family wealth through the generations - ending "born into poverty" as the usual human beginning. Shree Maa's social invention was the inspiration for Cloversweet Trust (attached), my own attempt to realize this dream. Satyagraha, the talking stick, Family Trusts & Perpetual Family Banks - these are all social inventions. I am curious. What other social inventions have Gandhitopia members found helpful?

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Trimtabs are an example of an industrial invention. Talking sticks are a social invention, designed to improve communication. A trust is a financial invention. Other financial inventions include business entities like corporations, cooperatives, and credit unions. Arcane "derivative" investment products like credit default swaps are financial inventions. Last winters global financial collapse was the direct result of the world being flooded with derivative products that were easy to sell because they had AAA ratings from either Moody's, Standard & Poor, or Fitch - the major Wall Street commercial credit rating agencies. These derivative products were "derived" from packages of mortgage debt that lost their value when the USA housing bubble burst. The housing bubble was fueled by easy money that poured in from the sale of derivatives based on the receivable debt from earlier mortgages. It was a vicious cycle of greed - a circular Ponzi scheme. And why were these derivatives so easy to sell? Because they had AAA ratings. And why did they have AAA ratings? Because a talented math wizard (David X. Li), invented a formula called the Gaussian copula function - a financial invention that gave credit rating agencies a "mathematical basis" for assigning high credit ratings to packaged debt. Satyagraha was the social invention that freed India from British rule. Dr. King was able to put Gandhi's invention to use in the winning struggle against racial segregation. There is a sad mystery that I don't understand. Why is a great social invention like Satyagraha used so sparingly by people; while inventions like financial derivative products are greedily embraced by so many?


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