Small is beautiful

Small is beautiful


This statement goes against the grain of popular belief. For most of us in the modern world, we like everything large. We live life king size, build huge houses, towering skyscrapers, and like to work for the largest companies. The progress of a country is measured in terms of increasing GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Does big mean better?

Sigmund Freud has famously associated human obsession with large sizes as compensation for a puny personality, or to hide our flaws and inferiority complex. British economist E.F Schumacher has penned a book titled, ‘Small is Beautiful’. The book, published in 1973, deals with economic and political conditions of the modern world. The premise of the book states that we spend unnecessary amounts of time, and waste precious resources in order to manufacture very small quantities of produce.

He says that it is very easy to create things in large scale, but only a genius can create something small, yet elegant. He argues that there is beauty in frugality, and encourages economies to produce in smaller scales, and concentrate on the important task of saving the limited natural resources. According to Schumacher, we treat natural resources (like water) as an income, which is frequently generated, and can be replaced each month. However, we ought to view them as fixed capital, which is fast depleting, is precious, and cannot be replaced easily.

He also says that in modern economy, organizations treat the human resource as merely tools involved in the working of the machine. The human element is not taken into consideration while making business decisions. Major decisions are made on the basis of profitability for the organization, and not keeping in mind the people who are part of the organization, or the people connected to the organization in different ways.

It is a shame that even after four decades of Schumacher’s book, we have not learned from it. We continue to waste precious natural resources, and create produce without careful consideration.

In all cases, it requires a lot of skill, patience, and talent to create something small. Take miniature paintings as an example. It is extremely difficult to create perfection when you have to make it in such a small size that you cannot even see it. There are very few people who can create small wonders. We all look at magnificent ships inside bottles with narrow mouths, and wonder how it is done. Similarly, miniatures of The Bible, The Gita, and The Quran are considered to be works of art. There are very few people who can create miniature books.


Let us reinvent our attitude towards things, and bring small back in style. Small is chic, and chic is cool!
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