Abundant vs Adequate vs Appropriate

Recently I happened to read an Article titled “Liquidity Conundrum: Abundant vs Adequate vs Appropriate” written by Tamal Bandyopadhyay, the Consulting Editor of the financial daily “Business Standard” which talked about the dilemma being faced by the Reserve Bank of India and the Monetary Policy Committee in trying to balance the level of liquidaty in the system against the seemingly contradictory considerations of ensuring economic growth and at the same time ensuring that inflationary pressures, with their consequential adversarial effects on the lives of common man, do not go out of control. While, personally I do not claim to be much of an Economist what could be gathered from the Article was the Central Bank’s dilemma between maintaining abundant and appropriate liquidity or in starting the normalisation process so that the goal of appropriate liquidity and an optimal balance between the seemingly contradictory considerations can be reached by a suitable and timely recalibration of interest rates.

I may hasten to clarify that this blog is, not in the least, meant to be an academic discourse on economic, monetary and fiscal policies (which in any case I am scarcely equipped or qualified to do) but attempts to extend the distinction between the appearingly different, yet similar concepts of abundant, adequate and appropriate and to apply the same in various facets of our daily lives. By extrapolating the distinction between these different stages to our thought process, mental dispositions or physical states one could broadly and very generally relate them to feelings of sheer greed and unbridled desire reflecting abundance to a stage of sufficiency which can be equated with being adequate to the ultimate, blissful yet seemingly utopian balance of appropriateness.

Abundance of wealth with a more than adequate satiation of desires while definitely exhilarating and motivating, yet has a definite undercurrent of greed attached thereto, if not directly but collaterally, leading to an underlying mutation of thought processes. As a result unbeknown and willy-nilly, resort to nefarious means with scarce regard for ethics becomes commonplace and spanning of the link between ends and means becomes a defining casualty leading to basic moral values and rules of conduct being sacrificed at the altar of expediency and short-sightedness. Thereby the abundance of wealth leads to people and institutions becoming prisoners to unwholesome practices and ethics ultimately drowning in a cesspool of a desire for abundance (corresponding to greed) with the whirlpool sucking you closer and closer into the vortex.

While the need for an augmented economic status together with an improved standard of living reflected in feelings of genuine desire (corresponding to may be some kind of adequacy) is not just understandable or unquestionable but also necessary (according to some economic theories, increased consumption expenditure does fuel economic growth), it is necessary to ensure that such desires do not peter into greed something which is a most undesirable personality attribute.

Of course, the ultimate goal should be to reach a state of contentment ( loosely but most definitely corresponding to appropriate) whereby while the day to day necessities and reasonable level of comforts (may be even luxuries) are duly provided for yet the mind frame does not go haywire and loose its way in the labyrinthine pathways of materiality and greed.

The above discussion can be equally applied to another seemingly unrelated yet an integral part of our lives which is our eating and dietary habits reflected in our appetite. For starters I am reminded of something which our family elders (in particular, my Mother(ostensibly illiterate but otherwise an intensely practical human being with an infinite supply of earthly wisdom) would invariably tell us while teaching us what to eat and in particular, how much to eat. While, naturally and justifiably, they always emphasized on wholesome and balanced nutritional food, what was also innately focussed on was the need to consume just about the “adequate” quantity whereby there is no residual hunger but somewhat of a desire for more. In their own words (in this case the distinction between adequate and appropriate might and does get somewhat obliterated) an overfilled stomach is a natural and even the most plausible gateway to the body exerting more than normal force to absorb the excess which, if not immediately, but most probably in the medium, but definitely in the long term would lead to severely, debilitating and deleterious consequences. Adequate food with the appropriate mix (here I could nuance the subtle gradation and difference) will most likely (of course not definitely) result in emotional stability, physical longevity and a balanced mental quotient.

Here again talking about appropriate, the so called junk and fast foods ( such as of the processed variety which are unreasonably high in sugar, salt or unhealthy fat content) because of their sheer chemical composition lead to the graded distinction between abundant (craving) adequate (desire) and appropriate (contentment) being obliterated. Being music to the palette and activating the pleasurable senses but physically most damaging, if indulged in beyond the most appropriate or desirable quantities, such foods trigger a chemical reaction and an emotional high which, almost always leads to such items being consumed in unreasonable qualities. It is here that our elders’ insistence (much hated by us in our formative years) on appropriate foods becomes prominent.

The other area of our daily lives where this distinction can be applied is in our speech, both tenor and how much to speak. Of course, the need for an appropriate calibration of the tongue between firm, soft, loud, murmur, whisper etc. is in fact well documented and discussed, the issue of how much to speak and when to speak also requires due care and attention. Here again the need to be a good listener if you are to be heard, understood and appreciated is well-known. A garrulous, overtly expressive, bordering on aggressive approach has concomitant negativities which more than far outweigh the benefits that might be derived therefrom. The effort and endeavour should be to balance the need to convey your feelings, thoughts and expressions in the most effective manner with a subtle, delicate, demeanour, adequately expressed with an appropriate choice of words.

While I have tried to extrapolate the distinction between abundant, adequate and appropriate, so effectively and succinctly brought out, albeit in a different context by the Consulting Editor of Business Standard, I am sure there must be other areas of our behavioural framework, mind sets and societal approaches where it can be suitably applied.

In this context and talking about being satiated, contented and satisfied I am reminded of a Doha (an independent verse, akin to a couplet) by the 16th century mystic poet and saint Sant Kabir:

“Sayeen Itna Deejiye, Ja Mein Kutumb Samaye;
Main Bhi Bhookha Na Rahun, Sadhu Na Bhookha Jaye”

In this Doha, Sant Kabir conveys in a simple language, the powerful message of the need for human beings to entreat God to give them not too much, but enough to take care of their family and feed the guests who come to or meet them. This Doha deals with the concept of contentment, compassion and seeks to relate them to a very clear attitude of service. While dealing with contentment and self-sufficiency and not a craving for abundance being the ultimate desire, it also adds another dimension by seeking enough to serve the Sadhu (literally meaning a monk or a sanyasi who has renounced the world but implied to mean any Athiti or guest) thereby embodying the compassion and an attitude of service to others. In the result, it also reflects — “Athithi Devo Bhava” — a teaching from ancient Hindu scripture “Taittriya Upanishad” which equates a guest as equivalent to God. This Doha which very amazingly yet rudimentarily encapsulates the distinction between abundant, adequate and appropriate should invariably become indelibly and unrecognisably absorbed in our psyche for long lasting mental balance and in our pursuit of a society devoid of strife and bereft of violence.

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