30 October 2010

Money Matters

Sathya & I always have this one argument. About money, about helping the poor, about donating some amount every month to a worthy cause. He says, in complete seriousness, “Why don’t you to donate it to me? I am the poorest of them all!!” As for his money, “Why should I donate money to XYZ? I have slogged my ass off for it in the 1st place”. His reasoning is, if he has struck gold, the loot is for him to enjoy. I, on the other hand, feel that, if I am rich, I am going to be richer by sharing at least a part of it with someone else, someone other than my immediate family, someone needy, someone unknown or, unrelated to me, whose life can be touched by a small gesture of kindness.

In all good marriages, the wise wife chooses her battles well. This is one battle I am not too eager to win. That is because, neither of us is rich, nor have ancestral wealth to throw away. Hence, even if I would like to contribute generously to a cause, I am held back by my constantly shrinking purse. And even if he wants to hoard cash, his wallet is stressed by the sheer load of his never ending list of wants. So, what’s the point of arguing endlessly with him? We have agreed to disagree & maintain status quo. I continue to do my thing, my little bit, because I know, that every drop counts.

I really believe that, whoever earns, say beyond 15,000, in a city like Bangalore, can afford to part with at least 300 a month to some cause. Is that too hard? I don’t think so. Accounting for all our expenses, living costs, utilities, and entertainment costs & even if we stashed away another big wad of currency under the category “miscellaneous”, there’s still, always, a wee bit left at the end of it all. What is lacking is not the money but the heart to part with it. What we need is an upbringing that nurtures an attitude of sharing & giving. I remember reading Suzan’s blog, where she wrote about Ramadan, & how they are encouraged to actively help the less fortunate during the month, because that act itself is a form of prayer.

Just think of the Whirlpool add “Ek Jodi Kapda’. A simple & beautiful thought that can easily be done by anybody. No excuse can justify not being a part of such a humane campaign. There was also one by Pantaloons, I think, if I am not wrong, where you could give away your old toys & they would distribute it among the poor. How many of us have clothes/toys/utensils/furniture & so on that we haven’t used in a really long time & we know we will never use it? But it lies in the house. We keep clinging on to it. We don’t mind letting an old wooden cot/chair/table rot in the rain. We simply can’t bear the thought of giving it away.
Wealth creation is not bad. Wealth accumulation is. By that I mean, hoarding money or things; being a miser; not wanting to share it with anyone; sometimes not spending on one’s own family; not giving that teensy weensy excess away to a needy person. We should salute the likes of the Birlas, the Ambanis, the Tatas & the numerous others who have created great wealth for themselves, their stakeholders & the common man, who invests his life’s savings in their companies.

I read a quote once that said, “To be born poor is not our fault but to die poor is”. One of the purposes of human life is to better one’s own conditions; to constantly move from one strength to the next; to continuously strive to improve ourselves, not only in personal growth as in our talents & abilities but also in our standards of living. Of course, money matters! Because only if you have it, can you give it. So, do go out there, & make money, all you can, loads of it; mint it, multiply it. But just don’t be blinded by it. After all, not everything in life that counts can be counted.


  1. Mam,

    All these thoughts are good, but not practical in this modern world.

    Even Mr.Warren buffet gave away his $31 billion money to charity only after he reached the position of second most richest man on this earth.

    Each individual has to earn his or her own bread and butter on their own. Its not our headache to do that for strangers. First we should look for our survival & then comes others.

    About Money? It matters everywhere. And its endless for me to give the list here.

    So chill mam, instead of spending that Rs.300/- on unproductive things, just save it in the bank. At the end of the year it will be Rs.3600/- plus additional bank interest, this amount will help you to maintain the shrinking purse or may be on your emergency.
    manjunath Kalichaveedu

  2. hi manju, gr8 response.

    read d piece again, though. Esp d title. Yes money "matters". A lot. Dat's y d particular title. And while u r @ it, pls also read d below lines:

    1. "if I am rich, I am going to be richer by sharing" (your example of warrren buffet.)

    2. "a small gesture of kindness" (out of the 3600 u got by puttin 300 in d bank, isnt it possible 2 give away 100, at least, in a year? not dat anybody can force u or even wants u to. its a personal choice)

    3. "every drop counts" (even if its 100 rupees in ONE WHOLE year)

    4. "Wealth creation is not bad"

    5. "One of the purposes of human life is ...
    strive to improve ...our standards of living" (ur line: First v shud look 4 our survival & then comes others.)

    6. "only if you have it, can you give it.(Buffet DID give some of it away when he had more than enough of it.)

    i never indicated dat even if u starve , feed others. whoever asked u 2 earn d bread & butter 4 strangers??? but whn u've 10 loaves of bread & 3 packets of 250 gm butter, & if u r FULL, absolutely full, completely full, definitely full, positively full at d end of 8 loaves & 2 packets, u surely can part with d remaining 2 loaves & 1 packet. can't u? ohh. is dat too hard 4 u? i understand. of course, you'd rather want to it keep it in d fridge & eat it for the rest of d month.

    (p.s: d ex of 10 loaves of bread & 3 packets butter is a random one & only indiactive in nature. u can replace d loaves with just abt anythihng else :))

    As 4 my shrinking purse, dat was jus a smart throw. If it helps u 2 know, my purse has never been empty. it is an akshaya patra. :) keeps filling up. :)))

  3. Ha ha ha...Mam...On all the above examples, I wont share:) Because I am a big Kanjoose ;)

    For me, everything counts in life ;)

  4. "What is lacking is not the money but the heart to part with it"...Summary of the article.

    Article with sense and purpose.

  5. Suji,I am just recalling an interview i faced recently. The diro there said "Mine is not a money-making institution.I want to give society only the very best. If you think like me, this job is yours".

    Honestly, this kind of talk only makes me laugh.What he obviously meant was that he could'nt pay me the money i quoted.I would have respected his being a little more assertive about his true intentions.

    I watch "Kaun Banega Crorepati".I see people say that they will donate most of it to charity.I am not sure how many of them really will, other than the stars who are forced to part with their prize money.

    Charity can take many forms.I give away my share of the lunch sometimes to the poor. I give away a sealed packet of biscuits to the dhobhi's son...I give away some of my good saris to my maid... and for all this i don't need to inform anyone...

    Coming back to the interview i had, i told the gentleman that i had slogged 22 long years for this society. While i don't regret doing that, i don't allow others to get charitable with my sweat and blood...

    Maybe what Satya meant was that our doing charity should not keep our purse empty. Give away whatever you can that will not deprive people in your own immediate surroundings.

  6. Hi,
    This is most selfish act of human beings to donate some part of your earning and get the pleasure of "giving away". I have always liked the way you have celebrated Tanvi's birthdays by arranging food for somebody and goodies for some orphan children. She does not have logical thinking. But let her learn that by giving something away I am not losing what is mine. There are discussions going on regarding whether children are born possessive and society teaches generosity to them or whether they are born gererous and age teaches them to keep the earnings for himself or herself.
    I never thought of giving either alms or advice when I meet the regular ones in train everyday on my way to work. I was quite confused whether this helps them or they are going to use it at liquor shop. I have seen many beggars who directly go there after getting the alms.
    Then Baba Amte came to my help to form my opinion regarding this. He said, 'Work Builds and Charity Destroys'. This means as long as they know that there is somebody to give away their money for NOTHING, there is no need to work hard. On the other hand can you make them think differently? Can you help them in kind not cash? Can you show them a way of earning their livelihood. Can you counsel them? I know this is not either practical always. But whatever the background thought I too am with Satya only... I know the value of money I have earned. You too learn to earn your own money. Are you old? YOu will get pension from govt. Are you sexual minority, you will have self employment. Are you very ill, govt hospital should take care of you. Are you physically challenged, then challenge the life.
    we are not forcing you to participate in Para Olympics. At least earn your livelihood!
    Even after training the MBA students for corporate life, did you forget to teach somebody to fish and not give away fish!

  7. I don’t understand how this is selfish; but let’s assume for a moment that it is. So what? What’s wrong with being selfish? What have you ever done that wasn’t born of a selfish desire? Even the most “sacred” relationship - marriage - is a need based, “selfish” relation. Nothing of human existence & experience is ever without the thought of “self.”

    As for people who give, being selfish, start by giving something someday – one day. And you will know the feeling. You almost always feel “Wish I could do something more”. It’s anything but selfish. But if you don’t do it, you’ll never know it.

    The example of the beggar going into a liquor shop is a one-off case. It’s like saying somebody died in a car crash, so I’ll not drive a car!! Do you apply the same logic to all the other areas of your life? You don’t. You apply it where it suits you best. Now, that is selfish. But then, that’s life.

    Just because some drunken pscycho did that is no reason to undermine the importance of sharing. The impact that sharing has had with the genuinely needy people is huge.

    Ever heard of CSR? It is - Corporate Social Responsibility, which simply put, means giving back to the society. It is making a difference to the socio-economic environment in which we flourish. The corporate are collectively more conscious & responsive to the needs of the society they operate in. Refer my examples: of Pantaloons & Whirlpool. There are countless more. Like Microsoft, Wipro, Yahoo, Tata, Infosys & Aditya Birla to name a few.

    It’s the intellectuals like us who don’t put their money where their mouth is. Corporate companies have long realized the need to touch the lives of as many underprivileged people around them as is possible. Hope this answers the last question in your response.
    I’ve never been one of those who “preach”. Philosophical words with no real action is definitely not my style.

    I had consciously resisted from using the word “charity” from my blog piece because, I believe, it is a term over-used & abused. But I do know that even if 80% of the funds were misused by the middlemen (how sick!), & only 20% reaches the really needy people, that 20% is still service done to God. It is better than prayers & pujas in the temples where crores are spent.

    People who vehemently oppose the idea of giving are usually the ones who have never given anything to anyone. To cover this, they quote texts & ideas from sociological journals. Or Baba Amte. When there was the Latur Earthquake, didn’t we all forgo our half day/one day salary to contribute to the Earthquake Relief Fund? Do you still think ‘charity destroys’?

    Saw the NDTV’s “We The People” program of Barkha Dutt telecast on the 5th of Dec’10? The topic was “The Art of Giving”. One man rightly said, “We are willing to donate money to temples but not to NGOs who support the education of under-privileged children.” And also what Rohini Nilekani said, “Very soon, all the wealthy in India will donate.” After all, in charity there is no excess.

    Pls read my response to Manju in the “comments” section. I wonder how you could jump to conclusions & give your response without reading & analyzing the article fully. Quite surprising, & least expected of a writer.

  8. Conversation with My MBA Faculty Naveen Sir (who has given me opportunity to write few articles to college magazine) relevant to this Blog.

    Sisya (suraj) - we read on newspaper many times that a newly born kid found in garbage. So how can we teach fishing to that kid.

    Guru - Find the parents of the kid and give it to them.

    Sisya - Kid found in garbage due to mother discarded that kid. For time begging accepted we can go in search of parents and till that time how to look after the kid. In spite of conscious effort if we cannot find the kid's parent. What to do..?

    Guru - Since you found the kid and take care of the kid on your own. Plan not to have kid.

    Sisya - In that case, I need to open a Ashrama considering the Indian population and every now and then we read newly born kid found in garbage or alone. What if I am a bachelor and alone at home..? What if am too old or ill..? Taking care of kid is a big responsibility and I won’t be able to earn. Instead I support people who do do such kind of Act. I feel there is nothing wrong in supporting such cause you may give whatever name for it charity, selfish, loser,..so on.

    My Thoughts:

    I do agree, we should not encourage people who beg even if they are strong enough to earn. I do agree, we should not encourage the people who beg near the traffic signal by sexually harassing us. I do agree, we should not encourage people who do emotionally black mail us in the name of god or playing with our psyche to earn their livelihood. In Hindu philosophy there is a saying “ do not give it to people who does not deserve it, only give to those people who deserves it”. If we think the money given misappropriated and misused then why are we paying tax..? Tax collected by government for well-being of society. Are we abiding by it because law is enforcing us…? We do good thing because law is enforcing us..? As a individual don’t we have some social responsibility..?

    I feel proud of supporting such cause without losing my Goals and Aim in life. It appears to be selfish act, but they call it as "Sathvika Swartha", since it is not hurting anyone and it is called as WIN-WIN situation. This concept has been learnt in my MBA in Negotiation Skills and GD from Naveen and Sujatha (blog owner). I have read in Shivarama Karantha's book that "tanu beleyostu swartha yellarallu irabeku" i.e. there is nothing wrong in being selfish keeping in mind that I should also grow. Live and Let Live.

    Thank you Sujatha Madam for the article which made to think many people and it has been long time I wrote something…”Sathvika Selfish” Suraj…hahaha

  9. I don't believe in charity done through money donation. Sometimes the poor need more than money, respect, education (not literacy, but education) and awareness. I have met poor who work hard to make a decent living and I help such the way I can. However, I do not help beggars or someone fit who can earn at all. And somehow I do not believe in corporate charity as well. Corporates do it for their tax savings and society blah blah. I have heard how executives of some renowned NGOs would travel Business or even First class because they can afford to.

    I agree with what your husband said. I do not submit fake medical bills for my taxes, pay my taxes, that's how I do my bit. I leave it to the elected ones to take care of the rest. If they do not, not my problem. They got to learn to do their job and everyone on earth comes for a reason, work and earn your own living. Simple and straight.

    Hope I did not annoy you in anyway though :D

  10. Oh God! Sujatha! All comments can make a post! So long! :-D

  11. @Chintan: annoy me? no not at all...we all are entitled to our opinions.thanks for sharing ur thots here. appreciate it

    @Spicy: hahah ya...