Sunday, August 22, 2010

Of This and That....

Today's Indian Express carries a photograph captioned 'When Hunger Turns to Anger', depicting a victim of the flood in Pakistan, trying to throttle another victim apparently because the latter was trying to snatch food or preventing the former from getting food.
The latest hit film is Peepli Live, a satire on farmer suicide and focussing on the hopelessness of their lives. The flood victims of Leh continue to suffer even as reconstruction efforts are underway. Farmers in Aligargh are agitating, demanding higher compensation for their land.
The papers are also full of Vedanta and the latest richest Indian, Anil Agarwal, whose networth is estimated almost one and a half lakh crores.
If we were earlier unaware, of the chasm existing between the haves and the have nots it is made clear as one reads reports like these. We do concede that a purely equitable society is idealistic and to be very honest, is also unachievable. But yet, the difference need not be so wide. How can we as a society continue to exist when we are aware that even as we blow money on our comforts and luxuries, there are many who go to bed hungry and cold. This is not a rhetorical question, but one we truly need to ask and find an answer to, and the manner we choose to make amends, will reflect the society we want to create.
One could argue that all are not born equal, that one has a right to enjoy one's own hard earned money. Fair enough and we have no arguments with that but is it also not right that opportunities be made available to all ? Can we, sitting comfortably in our air-conditioned homes and looking for ways to invest money, not spare a thought for those less fortunate and in need of our time, our money, our resources, our expertise?
Thoughts like these perhaps prompted 40 US billionaires, motivated and led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to pledge their money to charity. There are critics who wonder whether the pledge had to be public and was it publicity the billionaires were seeking. But we do not think so and would like to believe that the billionaires made public their intention hoping that others would follow their lead. We hope so too and in India, we do have corporate leaders devoting their time to spread the word about the Joy of Giving Week. Meanwhile unfazed by criticism, Gates Buffet are trying hard to convince their European counterparts to pledge their wealth to charity.
We may not be billionaires or even millionaires, but the little we have can be shared and let us resolve to do that during the Joy of Giving Week this year.