The following points highlight the top seven economic ideas of Thiruvalluvar. the economic ideas are: 1. Factors of Production 2. Agriculture 3. Public Finance 4. Poverty and Begging 5. Wealth 6. Ethics 7. Welfare State.
Economic Idea # 1. Factors of Production:
Thiruvalluvar has made many passing references about the factors of production viz., Land, Labour, Capital, Organisation, Time, Technology etc. He says, “Unfailing harvest, competent body of men, group of men whose wealth knows no diminution, are the components of an economy”, (Kural 61). Further he says, “Executing the work at the proper time is sure to deliver goods (wealth)”, “Nothing is impossible if done with the help of time and technology”.
Finally, he says, “anyone who executes at the appropriate time with appropriate technology, he can conquer the world.” From this we can understand the importance given to factors of production by Thiruvalluvar. He has also emphasised the importance of capital formation. He has insisted on the need for savings. He says, “Profit cannot be had without capital”.
Economic Idea # 2. Agriculture:
According to Thiruvalluvar, agriculture is the most fundamental economic activity. They are the axle-pin of the world, for on their prosperity revolves the prosperity of the other sectors of the economy, “The ploughmen alone”, he says, “live as the freemen of the soil; the rest are mere slaves that follow on their toil.”
Valluvar believed that agriculture is superior to all other occupations. “Husbandmen are the lynch -pin of society, for they support all those that take to other work, not having the strength to plough.” He goes on to say,” who ploughing eat their food, they truly live. The rest to others bend subservient, eating what they give. “Valluvar considered the agriculturists”, “the intellectuals” and ‘the capitalists’ are the important ingredients of an economy.
Here we can see certain similarities between Thiruvalluvar’s views and Physiocrats of France un agriculture. As the French Physiocrats glorified agriculture as the only productive occupation and other occupations as ‘sterile’, so also Thiruvalluvar highlighted the importance of agriculture. Like Physiocrats, Thiruvalluvar also had the belief that agriculture was superior to all other occupations.
Economic Idea # 3. Public Finance:
Thiruvalluvar elaborately explained Public Finance under the headings Public Revenue, Financial Administration and Public expenditure.
He has stated these as:
(1) Creation of revenue
(2) Collection of revenue
(3) Management of revenue, and
(4) Public expenditure.
Valluvar was against the method of collecting tax compulsorily. He compared a king who collected taxes by force to a highway robber.
The three main sources of revenue are:
(1) Wealth that comes by itself;
(2) Customs duties;
(3) Tributes paid by the defeated kings, i.e., ‘reparation’.
It should be noted that Valluvar did not mention land revenue which was the main source of revenue in those days.
Valluvar recommended a balanced budget. “It is not a great misfortune for a state if its revenues are limited, provided the expenditure is kept within bounds.” He gave certain guidelines for a budgetary policy. “Budget for a surplus, if possible, balances the budget at other times, but never budget for a deficit.”
Valluvar advocated the following main-items of public expenditure:
(2) Public Works and
(3) Social Services.
Valluvar was against seeking external assistance. According to Kural 739, countries seeking external assistance are not to be considered as countries at all. In other words, he advocated a self- sufficient economy.
Economic Idea # 4. Poverty and Begging:
Valluvar considered freedom from hunger as one of the fundamental freedoms that should be enjoyed by every citizen. According to him ‘poverty’ is the root cause of all other evils which would lead to ever-lasting sufferings.
Valluvar considered it foolish to redress the ills of poverty by begging. He condemned poverty and begging as the greatest curses of a society. It is wrong to say that some were made to beg by fate. If people were to live by begging, he said, “May the creator of the universe who has decreed so, go begging and perish.”
Economic Idea # 5. Wealth:
Valluvar regarded wealth as only a means and not an end. He said, “Acquire a great fortune by noble and honorable means.” He condemned hoarding and described hoarded wealth as profitless richness. To him industry is real wealth and labour is the greatest resource.
Economic Idea # 6. Ethics:
The entire teaching of Thiruvalluvar was based on ethics. He was against unlawful and illegal methods of realising the objectives. There should be ethics not only in objectives, but also in realising those objectives. He considered drinking, gambling and prostitution as evils that did harm to the socio-economic life of a society.
Economic Idea # 7. Welfare State:
Thiruvalluvar was for a welfare state. In a welfare state there will be no poverty, illiteracy, disease and industry.
The important beautifying elements of a state are:
(1) Perfect health of the people without disease
(2) Abundant wealth
(3) Good crop
(4) Prosperity and happiness and
(5) Full security for the people.
Finally, one of his kurals shows the main characteristic features of a peaceful state. “It is that country which can be called a good country wherein there are no several parties, where there are no internal dissensions; where there are no internal enemies.”