Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Of Wastage and Accumulation

I just noticed a couple of days back that humanity has two peculiar, and contradicting tendencies. This idea struck me when I got up early in the morning and made my way into the bathroom. One of the taps was open and water was flowing out, no one to care.

On one side, we are big wasters. We waste every possible resource available to us. I have seen a million times how water simply runs out of a tap. Carelessness is the reason. Worse, if water runs out right in front of our eyes, and we do nothing about it. Just see for yourself next time you wash your face. Odds are that your tap runs continously while you actually collect water from it only intermittently. We do this again and again, while brushing or shaving. Is there any figure we can give to the amount of water wasted? Not just water, but electricity. I too am guilty of leaving the fan running when I am not in my room. Food is another commodity.

On the other hand, we accumulate wealth. There is no end to our pursuit to gather more and more wealth. No one is satisfied. A rich man wants to get richer, save more and more money in Swiss Bank.

What I find funny here is that we miss an important point...that every resource is money in a different form. Isn't it really funny that we indulge in two contradicting activities, without realising it?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Money for Others

When the coast of south India was struck by the devastating tsunamis, and left millions homeless, there was one kind heart that stood out - that of actor Vivek Oberoi. His gesture to adopt Thevanampattinam, a hamlet of fishermen is more than just commendable. Whether he did it as publicity stunt, or of a genuine interest to rehabilitate the victims, is a topic for his critics to discuss about. But what remains as a fact is that he helped, and he helped generously in a way where the help reached the needy directly, without passing through many hands that would have, needless to say, slyly stole a few bucks here and there.

I am not here to praise Vivek Oberoi, but he displayed a certain value, and that is why I am making this post in this blog. He showed a few things that is worth emulating specially by the rich of this country. It is quite possible that many other celebrities in India have contributed more in cash than all the money that Vivek has spent in rebuilding this village. However, what stands out is, Vivek's contribution has shown results at an extraordinary pace, while no one knows where the contributions made by the rest went. He showed that he was not just wanting to help, which most people in country wanted to, but that he was ready to do it himself. Just imagine what would have happened if all the rich men in India just followed Vivek's example. Needless to say, the lives of millions would have been put back on track, or nearly so, in about a fortnight. All that would be left will be to provide them boats, which the Government can easily take on. No need to build temporary relief shelters.

No one can say that India does not have as many rich men as the number of affected villages. Just hink of the number of actors in Bollywood, Kollywood, the cricketers, the politicians, and the industrailists. India is not a poor country, it is just that wealth is concentrated in a few hands. A complete uneven distribution of wealth. While there are families where children fight for the food their parents give, there are also families where the children fight for the property their parents leave. No doubt the Ambanis have provided many a means of livelihood. Yet the amount of wealth they have can feed a few generations of children in their lineage. The question arises - what does man do with so much wealth? Of what use is wealth if it cannot help someone?

A man should first earn for himself, then for his family. If his family has surplus, he may invest it on some venture that can provide jobs. At some point, one should begin to give out the rest for charity, to help the needy. There is no use saving that extra which in any case we cannot enjoy in our lives. There is a limit to the amount of wealth one should accumulate.

Finally I have to sum up. The money that we earn must be of benefit to others. All surplus after saving for oneself must go for charity. The money that goes for charity must reach the people who need them, and if it is possible to ensure this by some means, one should undertake efforts for that.