I never thought I would mention “Dow Jones” in this yoga blog. After all, that name is usually associated with business-speak. But just this once, I have to.
In step with its reputation for product innovation, Dow Jones created dharma indexes — a “family of faith-based equity market indexes that screen companies for compliance with Dharmic religious traditions.” This was done in cooperation with Dharma Investments, launched only last January 2008, to provide Hindu and Buddhist faith-based investing.
Dharma is a spiritual concept central to many religions originating in South Asia, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. About.com states that “Hinduism describes dharma as the natural universal laws whose observance enables humans to be contented and happy, and to save himself from degradation and suffering. Dharma is the moral law combined with spiritual discipline that guides one’s life. Hindus consider dharma the very foundation of life.
The Dow Jones site further describes dharma:
“Dharma has a range of meanings that include ‘duty’, ‘law’, ‘ethics’, and ‘fundamental principle’ in Hindu traditions, and ‘teaching’ or ‘reality’ or ‘truth’ in Buddhism.
Two ethical principles relevant to the context of Dharma and crucial to the formation of the indexes include:
- Ahimsa/Karuna or non-violence
- Loka-samgraha/Metta or the concept of stewardship”
The Dow Jones Dharma Indexes then are the world’s very first indexes that aim to track the financial performance of companies all over the world that conform to dharmic principles. Aside from a global index, there will eventually be indexes for U.S., UK, Japan, India and China.
Over 3,000 companies worldwide will be tracked and screened for compliance. An advisory committee composed of religious leaders and scholars will observe these companies’ core values and mission, corporate governance, human rights, labor relations, socio-economic involvement and many other standards that conform to dharma. I guess on the top of the criteria list would be companies that encourage protection of the environment as well as non-violence towards animals. Sectors that would be considered “unacceptable” would be those engaged in tobacco, alcohol, gaming, casinos, defense, adult entertainment, and even pharmaceutical companies that use animals for their tests. Even mining and logging industries may be taboo since they affect the environment.
Yoga purists probably would never think of delving into investments. Would my yoga teacher/s make such investments?
But with such strict screening for dharma-compliance, one now gets a chance to invest in companies which are in accordance with one’s personal and religious beliefs.
I wonder how long it would be before we see a Philippine dharma index. Just looking at the unacceptables in the list above, you can almost imagine how many locally listed companies will be eliminated from the dharma list straight off!
Ever since quitting work years ago, I stayed away from playing the stock market (which I did quite actively and heavily when I was earning relatively well). Instead, I played safe with the family’s savings, knowing that resources would be limited and the kids were growing up with growing needs.
But if ever the time will come and a dharma list of Philippine companies gets drawn up, I will seriously look into investing once again.