Things changed after industrial revolution. Thinkers like Marx (nothing to do with our own Indian leftist parties who represent very distorted leftist ideals) made people think in the direction of sharing of resources. Things started changing, albeit slowly, and there came few people who led by example. Some had inherited wealth, like Raja Rammohan Roy, and some who had earned it by their own work, like Bill Gates. The common thing was that they used their wealth, not for themselves but for others. Raja Roy spent it on upliftment of Indian society. Bill Gates is still spending it on various philanthropic activities. I can make the list of such greats but that is not central to the idea of this blog. I am pained to see the current situation in India.
The rich industrialists and even otherwise well to do in our society are born hoarders. The money-for-myself-and-my-family ideal flies at the face of the religion they follow. Irrespective of divergence on host of issues, all the religions agree on the point of helping fellow humans. And Indian rich and ruling class, as history goes, doesn't believe in helping others. The callousness with which they ignore the surrounding poverty is unbelievable. Just two days ago, Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh talked about the responsibility of rich CEOs towards the society and suggested that the salaries of CEOs should be reconsidered. The CII (confederation of Indian Industries) vehemently denied the proposal, all the while agreeing to PMs point that the disparity should be brought down. PM had also hinted few days ago that profit making corporate sector should share their goods with fellow citizens in order to include them in the mainstream. Again there were some empty talks by CII and such chambers and nothing concrete came out. The PM is a world renowned Economist and when he is bothered about this disparity, it is not for nothing. The rich and ruling, immersed in their rat race to make and hoard more money and profits, have become blind to the impeding danger. The kind of disparity seen in India will certainly lead to an Indian revolution on the lines of Russian Revolution and the rich and ruling class can be sure of meeting their fate. One can't fool people for long.
It works this way. Psychologically. A man will or won't do illegal act (like looting the rich) based on risk to reward ratio. Before liberalization (say 1990), the risk involved in looting the rich was high, the rewards were moderate (as there were not many rich) and hence the ratio of risk to reward was poor. Currently, due to increase of income of upper middle class and the rich, the risk remains the same but the reward has considerably gone up. The risk to reward ratio is attractive but still not beyond a point that would trigger mass looting or anarchy. There will be a tipping point. The moment the risk to reward ratio touches that point, one can expect the poor millions from all sides to pounce upon the rich and carry away whatever they lay their hands on. Any police or army can't stop this. The number of looters will be very high. And it's quite possible that the lower ranks among the police would side with looters. I am not giving any cock and bull story. It has happened quite a number of times in history. Shall I count them? The time bomb is now ticking in India. And here we have, our own CII and their stooges who don't want to have anything to do with building the society. They don't want to share their riches. They don't want to shoulder the burden of carrying fellow citizens along. And they want the government of protect them and their interests. They want this protection from the same government, which actually represents the millions of poor, and not the miniscule percentage the rich and ruling form. And when the head of that government suggests them to do something, they pooh pooh the idea. This is why I hate Indian rich. They stink. I am yet to see one Indian businessman who can donate at the magnitude of a Bill Gates, a Warren Buffet or for that matter Raja Rammohan Roy. Yes, there are Tatas, Infosys foundation and the likes. But what's the percentage of their charity to profit. It is nothing if one compares it to someone like Buffet who gave off two thirds of his wealth earned over lifetime in charity. Can any rich in India do that? It is not for me to ask them as it is they who possess the wealth and so the decision to give it to others should be taken by them alone. All I can do is, looking at the situation, suggest them to do it at the earliest to save their faces before it's too late. And yes, count me on the looters side.
(Cartoon from 'The Hindu' dated 28th May 2007)