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Issue No.: 550 | April 2013
 

The Art of Giving

Firoze Hirjikaka
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Is there something in the Indian psyche that prevents us from acknowledging that there is a limit to everything, including wealth?

The recent India visit of Warren Buffet, the world’s second richest man has highlighted the differing philosophies relating to philanthropy between Indian billionaires and those in other countries. The art of unconditional giving demonstrated by Buffet and Bill Gates, among others, seems to be lacking in their Indian counterparts. True, Aziz Premji recently donated 2 billion dollars of his personal wealth to charity, but he is the exception rather than the rule. In general, when India’s rich do give to charity, it is more for publicity or to avail of tax concessions. Sometimes the motive is even crasser. During the recent centenary felicitations for the Bohri spiritual head, one businessman used the occasion to blatantly publicize his company and added insult to injury by including his grinning portrait.

Is there something in the Indian psyche that prevents us from acknowledging that there is a limit to everything, including wealth? Our politicians, of course, have demonstrated this gene deficiency in a spectacular fashion. There has been speculation that the infamous A. Raja has amassed almost Rs. 3000 crores from the 2G scam. Even accounting for making more than adequate provision for the extensive family and hangers-on, there is no way these ministers would need, or even spend, the money they seem to acquire. But the greed is so in-built that he would readily acquire even more if he could.

As Buffet succinctly explained, giving to charity does not require the rich to deprive themselves of luxuries. As he candidly admits, he continues to live the good life, with his private jets and maybe with a villa in the South of France or even a private island. And yet, he has discovered that he still has a lot left over that he cannot possibly spend. So he gives it away to those whose need is far greater. In the same vein, no one grudges Mukesh Ambani his 2 billion dollar home – except that it is an architectural monstrosity inflicted on Mumbai’s skyline.

FIROZE HIRJIKAKA 
leonardo8_99@yahoo.com
 
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Other Articles in this Issue

Editorial

Water Thievery - Cause of Droughts in Maharashtra

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Main Feature

Budget 2013 – An Elaborate Exercise in Denial

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Twelfth Plan and the 2013-14 Budget - 3

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Reflections: The Gang Rape and After

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Justice Verma Committee Report

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Death of a Rapist

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Reflections: A Flawed Democracy

Are We Really Free?

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A Travesty of Justice!

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'Trousering’ a Brown Envelope in Myanmar and Communal Politics in Britain

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Reflections: In the midst of Blasts, Turf wars continue

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Foreign Relations

Terrorism Strikes Again, and Again, and Yet Again

B. Ramesh Babu
 

Cornucopia

Preamble to a Farce

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The Art of Giving

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Point Counterpoint

Terror Strikes Again!

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Phone Tapping and CDRS

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The Helicopter Deal

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Books

Disenchanting India: Organised Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India By Johannes Quack

Reviewed by Prabhakar Nanawaty
 

Educating Adults

The Right to Education Act (10)

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Children First Party of India Debut

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My Mother Pramila

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Anandi Gopal Joshi

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Maha Kumbh: Time to Come Clean

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In Memoriam

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Viren J. Shah, R.I.P

 

Remembering Hari Shankar Singhania

 

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In case you have not heard this one

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