Should Indian Billionaires follow the Guru’s way?
By Chris Emmanuel Dsouza
The former Indian President and arguably the brightest nuclear brains our country ever produced, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, penned down his dream nation, in the book titled ‘India 2020’. In his writings, Kalam prophesizes, India’s pinnacle global status in the lines of economy and Technology, perhaps at the closing end of this decade. But, somehow the veteran Space-techie oversees the widening gap between the glittering- prosperous-elite rich and the subdued-sidelined-disgraced poor. At one of his lectures, India’s Nobel prize winning economists, Dr. Amartya Sen, stated that India has in its wallet, the worlds wealthiest billionaires, but at same time in its bag, the worlds poorest of poor, who haven’t had the privilege to be listed in the ‘Forbes Top 500 List of poor’!
It is indeed a disturbing fact that sharply about 95% of India’s wealth is owned by 5% of the folks (The Forbes 500 Billionaires), and the rest 5% of the left over pie, is neatly packed, ceiled and dispatched to the billions of empty hands. Switching to brighter side, The historic visits to India this year, by the Legendary American investor, industrialist and philanthropist, Warren Buffet and Microsoft Founder, chairman, the worlds richest individual, Bill Gates, may have opened the eyes and knocked the doors of a few drenched and unworthy billionaires, existing in this country. Warren Buffet, widely regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world, Often called the "legendary investor” and ‘Investment Guru”, in his half a century old reign in the investment business, is a trend setter, in the act of Philanthropy, donated nearly fifty percent of his financial worth to systematic causes worldwide. Bill Gates along with his wife Melinda Gates, have nurtured millions of young underprivileged world wide, through their ‘Gates Foundation” a non-profit organization. Both Gates and Buffett have helped persuade 59 super-wealthy American families to sign what they call the “giving pledge” to return at least fifty percent of their fortunes to society.
Warren Buffet on his brief visit strongly urged the Indian billionaires to donate a reasonable amount of their earnings to the society, which has served its needs over the years. It is indeed an infamous character among the business magnates and the Tycoons in our country, overwhelmingly popular for their showmanship rather than socialmanship, the fact that they find little or zero time reserved for their bread-earners, for their tireless strive in return for peanuts. Ironically, the idea of ‘giving back to the society’ is unheard and unknown among the elected political feudalist and the highly overrated and undeservingly hailed B- Town stars (B-Town=Bollywood Stars). These alligators inhabited in the Silver Screen, grab every opportunity of fame, respect and admiration from the nations million workless-Nomads who queue up for their silly-dreadful-forgettable weekend shows (some of them, find hard to wave at their deluded fans).
For over several decades, Management Guru, Peter Drucker, taught that the management was not an end in itself but as a means to create organizations for building and supporting a civil society. India’s second-richest man, Mukesh Ambani — known better for building a 27-story home than for his social vision — started a foundation in 2009, and his Reliance Industries pledged to double the foundation’s initial $110 million endowment. Mukesh Ambani, as most left-leaning economist bitterly label as an ‘Business Lizard’, rather than ‘Wizard’, seems to justify his critics, particularly in terms of his negative economy-rate on ‘social empathy’, throughout his undefeated successful career. Surely, an off-colored ‘Buffet way’ missile taunt strike at the Indian rich, would not have gone down well with the ‘Ahmedabad Czar’. However, before pulling the trigger, Mukesh Ambani is not the lone vicious leach here; there are quite of few media moghals, who fancy every opportunity of balancing on common mans weak shoulders. Interestingly, this subject intensified a huge debate on CNN IBN, while Infosys HR head Mohandas Pai, was hooked and tussled by the host Rajdeep Sardasai and Public Intellect Sushil Seth. Mr. Pai, regretfully hit back saying that Buffet and Gates, and other American giants, had amassed excessive wealth, to the extent that it couldn’t be possibly reinvested, lest do these philanthropic activities. Now, to assert this dishonest statement as ‘cheap’ excuse would be a gesture of ‘Compliment’ to the pioneer infosian.
Devastatingly, these verbal fluids emanate out, from an colossal in the Indian corporate world, live on television. Had the occasion to think of, Instead of being so unapologetic and utterly self piteous on their inability to lend back and share, what the Ambani’s, the Premji’s, Wadia’s, the Birla’s, the Mopatalals, the Mittals and the Biyanis should ponder in these days of suicidal competition and breathtaking technology is the ‘joy of giving’. Again, the phrase has no relation to any kind of ‘spiritual’ context’, absolutely no. Oh, bye the way, it is also true that those in the ‘Roof tops’ of India inc. share a unique bond, with the previously highlighted term! (This shouldn’t be misunderstood for the un--sinful intimacy between UB Group – Chief & the Spiritual Racket ‘Art of Living’). Well now returning back, what does the newly coined term ‘joy of giving’ truly mean? It means that ‘Business’ would reap its benefits in the future. Apart from building a strong credibility, it would construct and capitalize an entity cementing its place in the hearts and minds of the common people. The family-run succession powerhouses, that no less depict the style of a middle century Indian kingdoms, often bristle, at the point of ‘generosity’. Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t look good either, distressfully in recent times we had to bear the drench of vulgar scams, frauds, scandals, manipulation, fund misuses and a recent viral phenomena imported from the United States-State department called ‘Corporate Lobbyism’. At the stretch of a second, this commends us to the one piercing question, whether we need to glorify the fake concept called ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’? (This, apart from scribbled papers, doesn’t seem to exist).
At the present context, if at all the global community views India as a ‘Third world Nation’, with countless miseries and rampant poverty, contributing towards a large economic disparity, the blame or the credit must be loomed at the vulgar- crooked -selfish billionaire business families, blessed with the corrupt-discreditable government’s piety, which have eased them to hog unaccountable sums of wealth, by looting small scale entrepreneurs and plundering the modest savings from the working-class for centuries together, with least concern to their up-lift-ment. The consequence of their rude, marauding and selfish cruelty has ruined the bridge of economic equality, which still remains a dream. These tycoons and magnates, in their crazy greed for an entry into the list of Forbes & Fortunes ratings and their bullish irrational temptation to buy an IPL franchisee (an open stage demonstration of the height of Indian corruption, Fraud & Mass delusion), should also take a leaf out of the mannerisms and reasonable deeds of American Business heavyweights like Buffet, Gates, Carnegie, Branson, Ellison and the long list of social donors in the west. It should be emphasized in B-Schools all over the country, that young guns should not loose foothold on earth while sweeping the skies.
As most, traditional businessmen in India have sole criteria of profit making and family feeding, which is itself a disgusting ritual in the eyes of a yearning nation, wouldn’t possibly be a healthy companion of founding principal of democratic socialism. We could ponder at this hour, without being able to clear the smug, reminiscing seven decades past the Second World War, that, whether capitalism or socialism, would serve the needs of common man. Modern India’s serious seduction with global market economy, liberalization, Foreign Investment is visibly evident. Therefore, it possibly wouldn’t be a sin to confer India’s attitude as the one that is apparently leaning towards American Capitalism, (or some would say imperialism). Nevertheless, it does not in any case, compensate or compromise for the noble thought of giving back. Every economics student, in his first brush on the subject, learns that ‘A business or an entity exist in a society, among the people, and as so, it is through these means, that it builds into an empire, therefore, it is the duty of every business to give back to its people, not as a compulsion but as a moral obligation’.
By Chris Emmanuel Dsouza
‘The Society of Thinkers’