Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Purpose of Wealth

These days one of the biggest talks in the town is the new mansion that the CMD of Reliance Industries is building. Magnificent, palatial, ostentatious and flamboyant are some of the words that I can actually associate with the structure. Named appropriately as “Antilla”, this building has all sorts of comforts that you can only dream about in a developing country like India. Some of the things that the building has even many other buildings in the world don’t have this kind of facilities. I am talking about the proud buildings that are built in the western world. On one side I feel proud to reside in a country that is resided by such a wealthy person, who by his might of wealth, is ready to take on any kind of completion that may come from the western world, but on the other side I am really confused as to why I am really feeling the pride for this structure and actually admiring it when it is not creating any kind of value to me as a citizen of this country.

To introspect myself I refer to an interview of Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal, which was recently aired on CNBC 18 channel. In a very candid and honest conversation the telecom baron said “Wealth should have its own purpose and should keep you alive even when you are gone”. The words and his comparisons with purposeful millionaires like Carnegie and Rockefeller actually moved me a great deal. I was very much in synch with what he was hinting towards in his interview and that was the obscene display of wealth. Wealth is not might, it is not ethically speaking a source for powerful display, and rather it is a very powerful tool, given by God to only few lucky persons, to change something in the world for better.

I recall the story of Andrew Carnegie, who told, “It is a pleasure to live like a millionaire, but a disgrace to die being one.” In today’s world that would be a bit of an overstatement but the work that the steel magnate was able to do in his life-time, was a stupendous example of philanthropy till date. The Carnegie foundation today is actually one of the most renowned foundations in the world. It has been able to create wonders for the American society in general and has played an immense role in the development of the life of the common American people. Sunil Mittal’s initiative of the Bharti Foundation, similarly Narayan Murthy’s Infosys foundation and the innumerable social point of influence opened by the Tatas are the examples of wealth being shown its own purpose.

A hundred years later when I am not there and they are also not there, I see people remembering these noble philanthropists for their contribution to the society, rather than actually harping about their luxurious residences. Honestly speaking, we should not assess a rich man by the mere show of wealth that is being done, however the assessment should be based on the way the wealth is being spent for the betterment of the world. After all the word “Rich” should suffice for being rich in values, content, obligations and responsibilities rather that just being rich in money, power and influence.

Think about it.

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