The enlightened call a person wise when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about results.

— Krishna in The Gita

The mind is everything. What you think you become.
— Buddha

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Art of giving

40 American businessmen, led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, have pledged to give away half of their fortune to charity. Who says the rich are spoilt, self-centered and want to grow only richer?

And we may dislike many things that stand for America, but when it comes to philanthropy I feel they win hands down. From the time of Benjamin Franklin, Americans have always displayed a philanthropic trait. It has been pointed out that American “voluntary associations” have their roots in the colonial era when people got together to solve their own problems or raise funds rather than rely on a government based in far-off England.

In comparison, India glaringly lacks such a tradition. Whatever charity work the rich undertake is slapdash and whimsical. Correct me if I am wrong, Mukesh Ambani is building the world’s most expensive private residence in Mumbai, where the mushrooming slums stick out like an ugly reminder of the rich and poor divide, but I haven’t heard his name being associated with charity and philanthropy, in a way the names of Bill Gates’ is. India’s charity contributions apparently account for only 0.6 per cent of the GDP, as compared to 2.2 per cent in the US.

The reason, I feel, is that we Indians not only want to secure our future and our children’s, but also the next few generations’! Compare this attitude with Warren Buffet’s saying, “I want to give my kids enough so that they could feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.”


  1. Our attitude is --Every one for himself and God for everybody.
    We are a selfish lot of people.

  2. We do have some good people too. Azim Premji , the Tatas. Some who do such charitable work annonymously. And some do it for the exemption of tax. But we need more of them.
    I think a lot of times, people do not give to charity, because we do not know whether the money reaches the people it is supposed to. And there are plenty of bogus Trusts too.

  3. Neena
    I agree with you, there is a great divide between the rich and poor. When millions go with out a meal a day many live lavishly.

  4. You are right about Americans. Leave rich people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Even ordinary folks in USA opt for deduction from paycheck towards charitable contributions. The amout may vary from $1.00 a month to their favorite organization.

  5. Thats so true!!!
    Attitude matter...most in making us a good human being...
    Thats a very powerful post!!

  6. nice post and nice topic. some exceptions also
    wishing you a nice day

  7. To give, you need to have a big heart, apart from just a big pocket. There are a lot of people in India who might not be millionnaires or billionnaires but give whatever they have, money, time and efforts to work for the greater good of the society.

    And yes those 40 prominent american businessmen also deserve a standing ovation for what they have chosen to do.

  8. the problem we have is we talk and never walk the talk.. and then the firt thing that comes to our mind is if we set scuh charities and all how can I MAKE MONEY out of it .. MY CUT is always a priority and thats why all this happens.

    We are a selfish lot SIMPLE TRUTH...

  9. indian duffers donate to religious institutions

  10. You are right. Good blog

  11. Apparently Buffet has pledged to donate
    99% of his wealth while Bil and Melinda Gates have already donated half of theirs to charity.
    Compare that with what the richest man in India has done: He has pledged almost Rs. 2 crores not to charity, but to help cover the Tirupati temple gopuram with gold!

  12. I really think they are doing some kind of charity because these day we hear about a famous name followed by foundation. It is another question that are these Foundations effective?

    Moreover, our charity is predominantly towards "God"!

  13. Our priorities are to increase the material wealth and less on charities. Also owing to so much corruption, one may never know, whether the money is well spent!!

  14. Hello Neena:)

    There is a lot of truth contained in your post. Yet we have houses like Tata's who do great charitable work without much advertisement.

    I agree the Americans are exemplary in philanthropy.

    Best wishes:)

  15. Very interesting post!
    Thank YOU !

  16. truth is our very philosophy goes against charity ( very convienient)..its the poors lot to be poor..the suffering is there due to karma...any help that u give will tie u anothers karma..who r u to interfer with gods will?

    so its divine common sense to pile up ur wealth..

    but seriously, i think helping each other is existent among all races...we have so few of the kind of billionaires that other countries theres a chance that we mite not know abt it...but a 5 rs given away by a guy who earns perhaps 8 rs, carries more than the millions from a guy who have billions..question is how much shud one give away? how much can one give away to resolve this?...

  17. charities is a way of giving back to the society...but one should be donating through right channels...

  18. True... but I am not sure if you can generalize! There are a lot of people who are big time into charity, but would prefer to stay away from publicity!

  19. I know many people who donate liberally in India too, though they do not make a show of it, I too feel one cannot generalize.