Economics & Poetry Part 2


“There is enough for everybody's need and not for everybody's greed"
-Mahatma Gandhi

“duniya mei.n huu.n duniya ka talabgaar nahi.n huu.n
bazaar se guzra huu.n ḳharidaar nahi.n huu.n”
(I am in this world, but I don’t covet the world; I am just passing through a market
place, without meaning to buy anything.)

-Akbar Allahabadi

In our last exploration we saw how economics is, essentially, a science of choices made in the face of scarce resources and unlimited human wants. The economist, very carefully and cleverly, distinguishes human wants from human needs. Needs are basic human requirements for survival (e.g. food, shelter and safety). They are finite and remain unaltered by the flashy billboards of marketing. Wants, however, arise from desire. They are shaped by our individual tastes as well as the world around us (e.g. smartphones, muffins, the internet). However, as much as I may want to shop at the Burberry store, I cannot, for I don’t have that kind of money. This is where 'buying power' pirouettes onto the stage, transforming wants into demands. Demand is not just about wanting something; it's about having the means to acquire it. But honestly, half the time I don’t know what I want. Have the economists deciphered the true nature of human desire when many of us are still figuring it out for ourselves?

Read Economics and Poetry Part 1

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