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Issue No.: 550 | April 2013

The Art of Giving

Firoze Hirjikaka
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.






Other Articles in this Issue


Water Thievery - Cause of Droughts in Maharashtra

Sharad Joshi

Main Feature

Budget 2013 – An Elaborate Exercise in Denial

M. R. Venkatesh

Twelfth Plan and the 2013-14 Budget - 3

Sunil S. Bhandare

Reflections: The Gang Rape and After

The New Delhi Protest

Nitin G. Raut

Justice Verma Committee Report

Suresh Sharma

Death of a Rapist

Ashok Karnik

Reflections: A Flawed Democracy

Are We Really Free?

Firoze Hirjikaka

A Travesty of Justice!

H. R. Bapu Satyanarayana

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

Professor Christie Davies

Reflections: In the midst of Blasts, Turf wars continue

National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC)

Ashok Karnik

Foreign Relations

Terrorism Strikes Again, and Again, and Yet Again

B. Ramesh Babu


Preamble to a Farce

Firoze Hirjikaka

The Art of Giving

Firoze Hirjikaka

Point Counterpoint

Terror Strikes Again!

Ashok Karnik

Phone Tapping and CDRS

Ashok Karnik

The Helicopter Deal

Ashok Karnik


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)

Suresh Sharma

Children First Party of India Debut

Dilip Thakore

My Mother Pramila

R. C. Saxena

Anandi Gopal Joshi

B. M. N. Murthy

Maha Kumbh: Time to Come Clean

Sunita Narain


Freedom First, this month in April 1956


In Memoriam

Professor P. V. Indiresan, R.I.P


Viren J. Shah, R.I.P


Remembering Hari Shankar Singhania


From Our Readers

Perpetuating the Status-Quo

Kaiser Ansary

Yet another Strike!

Kaiser Ansary

India’s Growing Leadership ‘deficit’

Saratchandra Panda, Bhubaneshwar

In case you have not heard this one

The Hijacking of Wharton

Rajiv Malhotra


an African child
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