Skip to main content

Divine Economics

Hello, all. I know I've been AWOL again and I'm awfully sorry and all that sort of thing. My latest absence may be blamed on the board exams, those destroyers of lives and happiness. It is my considered opinion that the cities of the plains may have yet thrived if it had not been for the introduction of the board exams. While the exams are not yet over - they don't even start until the end of this month - I've been allowed to escape the tomes for the time it takes me to write this post.

Today's topic is, as the title would suggest, divine economics - or rather, the economics of temples. Temples, in my opinion, ought to be considered businesses, at least in the sense that they provide a service in return for a fee. Now, if a temple is treated as a business (something I propose to do for the rest of this post), it would be a very strange business indeed. It breaks several of the most fundamental laws of economics, among them:

1. The Law of Demand. The law of demand states that all other things being equal, the demand for a given product or service falls as its price rises. For those of you unversed in the jargon of economists, it's saying that if something costs more, you're probably not going to buy as much of it. Say, for the sake of argument, that we consider each ritual that a temple performs as a product. From my (admittedly limited) knowledge of these, the ones available to the public may cost anywhere from 25 to 350 rupees. Now here's the rub: There are probably nearly as many people buying the 350 rupee one as there are buying the 25 rupee one! What do you say to that, Mr. Adam Smith?

2. The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. This law states, in essence, that for each additional unit of a product you buy, the less you're going to enjoy using the product. Say, for instance, that you buy ten chocolates. You're probably going to enjoy the first couple immensely. By the time you get to the fourth or fifth, you'll be enjoying them slightly less, but will still consider your money well spent. By the time you get to the tenth one, though, you'll be  (if you aren't suffering from diabetes by this point) seriously mad. You'll be going to the store and yelling at the chaps behind the counter that what they're doing is daylight robbery, that they simply cannot charge that large an amount for chocolate. The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility is basically the fancy name which economists have for this phenomenon. The way temples are exceptions to this rule is that people go to them year after year, paying for the same rituals, sometimes even more expensive rituals. The reason this works is because there is no real physical (i.e. non-circumstantial) evidence of the product ever having changed hands. There is no want which is satisfied, and unsatisfied wants are pretty much the driving force behind most of economics.

3. Inflation. In economics, there's nothing better for companies who charge for a service than inflation. Especially in the case of a temple, most of the tools you'll be using will have already been purchased. See what I'm getting at here? The amount of money you're getting is increasing at a tremendous rate, but the amount you're spending is not. The type of inflation that temples face is what is called, "Demand Pull Inflation". Basically, what this means is that although a producer is already working at full capacity, they are unable to satisfy the wants of all their consumers. In other words, their only choice to keep ahead of the demand is to raise the prices. Now, in temples, the consumers are willing to pay practically any price for the services they're receiving. Temples certainly have far more demand than they can cope with (as is borne out by the fact that some temples have rituals booked in 2026). So, naturally, they have demand pull inflation. What more can you want than rapidly rising incomes and slowly rising costs?

4. The Law of Diminishing Productivity. This law says that while increasing inputs up to a point will increase productivity, increasing it beyond that point will cause a decrease in productivity. Which is basically how economists say, "Too many cook spoil the broth." In most businesses, there would also be a fear of producing too much - reaching a point where the consumers are simply no longer able to buy your product. In the case of temples, though, there is really no such fear. Firstly, having more people performing the rituals and having more buildings to perform them in would definitely drive up the productivity in a temple, because the law only works if there is a certain saturation point at which people just don't want any more of whatever input you're increasing to be increased. Considering the amount of output that temples are producing and the amount that consumers could absorb - indeed, seem to be eagerly waiting to absorb - I doubt that this is really a problem.
I don't intend, here, to say that temples are bad. I, personally, don't believe in temples. However, as the man said, to each his own. I don't intend to say that temples are a bad investment, either. To be frank, I really don't know, and in all likelihood, nor does anyone else. Also, it's your money. I might have spent it differently, and doubtless I might have achieved poorer results as well. My intention in this post was just to point out that temples don't really fit in with the laws of economics. If you somehow find that offensive, then by all means, say so in the comments. If you don't find it offensive, say that in the comments as well. If you don't have an opinion on the matter, then once again, say so in the comments. Actually, just scroll down and write a comment. It doesn't take much time and it really helps to know that someone has read and enjoyed/not enjoyed my post. Thanks.

Comments

  1. Doing the same thing again and expecting a different result (Insanity) - and that's what drives people to the temples. Throwing good money after bad...

    - Saibal

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ritvik, Wonderful Article. This is not just in temples, its across all places of worship. Its just that God and places of worship tend to be a placebo and placebo defies all logic, and no price is too great to pay for.. Great thoughts..

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank god you posted. I thought you were dead.

    ReplyDelete
  4. coolcoolcool
    nice article
    Goodluck for boards

    -Kinshuk

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Weighing In

Today, I'm writing about something I'm actually rather proud of. Today, I'm writing about my weight loss. Over the past ten months, I've lost 12 kilos.

My parents have been begging me to start exercising since eighth grade. When I was 13, they'd boot me out of the house every day at 5:00PM and make me go running. I hated it. I barely even bothered to run, let alone push myself or stick to a diet. I ate like a trash can, sat in front of the computer all day and did nothing at all about my rapidly swelling pot belly. By the time I'd turned 15, even Dad had given up any dreams of seeing me with a flat stomach. I'd trained myself to stop looking in the mirror, and I stayed out of pictures as much as possible.

Fast-forward to the present day: I weigh 69 kilos. My stomach has all but vanished. Looking in the mirror is a satisfying experience, and I even have some muscle on my arms. I can now fit in medium-size t-shirts, and whenever I wear my old jeans, I look li…

5K:) - 2017

If you've been following my blog for a while - since the end of 2015-beginning of 2016 - you'll probably remember a post I did last year about the Thousand Smiling Faces project (I also wrote another post about it immediately after). For those of you who are too lazy to click through those links, the Thousand Smiling Faces project was a bunch of us teenagers getting McDonald's Happy Meals for 1000 kids in orphanages.

I was planning to this again on New Year's Day 2017, but couldn't get it to work out. However, Independence Day is coming up, and we're going to do it again, but this time, we've gone a little crazy - instead of working with 1000 kids, we're aiming to deliver 5000 meals! That's roughly  ₹5,00,000's worth of Happy Meals, a lot of burgers by anyone's standards.

We've also got another twist to the thing this year. Seeing as we're doing it on the 15th of August, which is India's Independence Day, and seeing as how McDon…

Talking Trouble

I want to begin this post by saying that I don't volunteer to speak. I'm not one of those guys who's always MCing this or giving a speech about that. I speak in public only if I have no other choice, and those situations come by rarely enough that I've had very little experience actually being on stage and talking.

Last week, though, I was at an NCC camp, and the PI (Permanent Instructor, for you non-NCC folk) staff decided that I should host an event on account of I spoke decent English. Normally, I would refuse, but in the NCC, if they ask you to jump over a cliff, you need to have been over that cliff five minutes ago. You don't get to ask why you're jumping off of a cliff, you just jump. So it was that three days into the camp, I found myself on stage with a co-MC I didn't really know, in a uniform that I had lost the knack of wearing and holding a mic that caught, oh, about 50% of the words you spoke into it.

At first, I was incredibly nervous. The pr…