Sathya Sai Baba and development of India
Serguei Badaev September 2003   

According to press release No.263 of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) (originally found at and but since removed in both cases) India and China, two countries with the largest population in the world, are to play a key role in achieving a global aim set by the world community: to halve the number of people on our planet who live in conditions of extreme poverty, i.e. less than $1 a day. According to the recently published UNDP Report for 2003, India with its population more than 1 billion people will reach this goal if its economic growth is stable and keeps up the same pace as for the period 1990-2000, i.e. 4% a year. As the Report states, Human Development Index (HDI) has increased from 0.577 (in 2002) to 0.590 (in 2003). Among 175 countries mentioned in the Report, India takes 127th place. The Report mentions also that such social problems as the mother's mortality, infant mortality and HIV/AIDS spread are not under control yet and that this affects negatively India's HDI.

         Sathya Sai Baba says: 

Many people invite me often to visit other countries. I do not like to go abroad before setting right this country and transforming its citizens. . (18.07.1997. Sanathana Sarathi, v.40, August 1997, р. 220).It is unclear what does, from the SSB's point of view, setting right mean for India and  transforming mean for its citizens? Will it induce any changes in the Human Development Index (HDI) and the place India takes among other countries? And when can one expect SSB to visit other countries?

         Another quotation of SSB is noteworthy in this respect:

In Mahabharatha, you have the Pandava brothers of whom Dharmaja is the eldest. Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva are the other brothers in order of their age. Now you have America and Russia leading in the world in technological skill and destructive power. But Bharath (India) is like Dharmaja. Even though Bheema and Arjuna were endowed with more strength and valour than Dharmaja, they always bowed to him. Now Bharath is the nation upholding Dharma. When once you develop Dharma there is no need to attack or harm any one: hence no need to have destructive weaponry. (18.07.1997. Sanathana Sarathi, v.40, August 1997, р. 218)

However, it seems that India has not been going to follow this piece of advice. As well known, Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is a key figure of the Indian nuclear programme which resulted in creation of a nuclear bomb in India [1]. Increase of military expenditure in India shows that the government of Vajpayee does not rely very much on Dharma to provide India's safety [2].

It is rather strange that Sathya Sai Baba calls India (Bharat) the nation which is now upholding Dharma. If we take a narrow meaning of Dharma as a religion, one can probably agree that Indian people are very religious in general and India has ancient spiritual traditions. But the whole picture is far from harmony if we take into account the bloody fighting between Hindus and Muslims with regard to the mosque in Ayodhya, the murders of Christian missionaries and the growth of Hindu nationalism in the country. If we take a broad meaning of Dharma as a universal law and ethics, we can't help but remember an extremely high level of corruption in the Indian society [3]. Despite the fact that India is the biggest democracy in the world, the rights of women and religious minorities are constantly undermined there. Until now the problem of so called untouchables has not been solved as well. So India seems to have nothing be proud of here.


[1] A.B. Vajpayee has long been a devotee of SSB and even defended him publicly in writing:

[2] JOHN F. BURNS, "Military Budget in India Is Increased by 14 Percent," New York Times, June 2, 1998

 NEW DELHI, India -- Declaring that there can be "no compromise on defense preparedness" in the wake of the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan, the government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced Monday that it has approved large budget increases for the country's armed forces, as well as for nuclear research and missile programs.

In their first budget, the Hindu nationalist leaders who head the country's coalition government revealed that military outlays will go up by 14 percent, part of which will pay wage increases for India's 1.6 million troops. The budget increase is among the largest ever made by India in peacetime, and will push total military outlays to the equivalent of $12.4 billion, about 19 percent of total government outlays of $64.3 billion. Indian economists estimate the total annual output of the Indian economy at about $265 billion.

The military increases were dwarfed by increases of 68 percent for the Atomic Energy Commission, in charge of civilian and military nuclear programs, and 62 percent for the Department of Space, which helps develop rockets that India has used to launch space satellites as well as military variants the Vajpayee government has said will be equipped with nuclear warheads. Together, the outlays on nuclear and missile research will amount to $665 million, up $262 million from last year.

[3] One of the remarkable examples - former Prime Minister of India, Narasimha Rao, (also a follower of Sathya Sai Baba) was convicted of corruption (buying votes in parliament prior to a 1993 no-confidence vote) and was sentenced to three years in prison in September 2000.


Note: When P.V. Narasimhan Rao was, after long investigations and political manipulations, finally granted exemption from this conviction, he announced famously that it was the grace of Sathya Sai Baba which had saved him and "flew directly to the feet of Swami" in Puttaparthi to thank him.

1) Print this Page       2)  Use right click here - then 'Open page in new window' to translate

Return to index menu