Edited by Léo-Paul Dana
Chapter 1: Religious Merchants?
1. Religious merchants? Edwina Pio INTRODUCTION Religion is carved into the lives of Indians and finds expression in multifarious ways in day-to-day practices such as morning prayers, offerings to deities and religious observances. Religion is also a driving force for entrepreneurship among certain sections of Indian society, based on caste affiliation. India is a secular democratic republic where 80.5 per cent of Indians are Hindus, 13.4 per cent are Muslim, 2.3 per cent are Christian, 1.9 per cent are Sikh, 0.8 per cent are Buddhist, 0.4 per cent are Jain, 0.6 are other religious persuasions (e.g. Jews and Parsis/Zoroastrians), and 0.1 per cent are those who have not stated a religion (Census India, 2001). Through interaction, research and observation in India, as well as through extant scholarship, it can be argued that there is a strong nexus between the temple and the bazaar for India’s entrepreneurs. In this chapter, religion and spirituality will be intertwined, for religion is seen as the outward expression of value systems that are deemed spiritual which emanate from charity (dana), devotion (bhakti), destiny (karma), duty (dharma), nonviolence (ahimsa), the meritless deed (nishkamakarma) and service (seva). Noble Prize winner Amartya Sen’s (2005; 2006) arguments concerning the portrayal of India by the West indicate that the creation of the image of India changed as the British consolidated their power in colonial times. Thus from an early image of Indian’s having tremendous knowledge with an ancient civilization rich with philosophy, advances in medicine, astronomy and mathematics, it changed...
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