March 28, 2011

Oracle of Omaha and India

I have great regard for Mr. Warren Buffett and his awesome record as an investor. He is considered as half- God by some at home, and that's how much I know about his work. He visited India amidst great fanfare last week and there were some good interviews too. I think there is much for people to learn from him and he does come out as an intensely sharp and intelligent man. Having said that I do think we must talk about things where our competencies lie. While his philanthropy is commendable and extremely generous, I don't think he has any idea about the deep rooted culture of India.

Philanthropy in India is not done by the millionaires and billionnaires, its done by everybody, the rich and poor alike. Its part of our nature. Its also a culture in our country to not talk much about our generosity. The 'nature of giving' has been ingrained into us mainly because we have always been a populous country with huge disparities. Such a society will naturally take to 'giving' and sharing one's wealth. While I have no qualification to comment on US culture, I guess, a country where social welfare is strong and robust, and is part of the "developed world', philanthropy is probably not a built-in mechanism, and is only practiced by a handful.

India, with its 1 billion plus population, with ~40% of the population living below the poverty line, less than a dollar a day, its the philanthropy by many Indians that is keeping this population alive. Not only are we just alive, we are doing fairly good, else we won't have the likes of Bill Gates / Warren Buffet landing up and talking to India Inc. My suggestion is for them to stick to sharing their business ideas and world trends and not lecture us on philanthropy.

Go to any state in India and see the amount of charitable Trusts that dot the landscape and they are spread across sectors of food security, education and health.

1 comment:

silentaudience said...

I stumbled upon your blog while searching for something and here I am writing a comment. I am of Indian origin and so was interested about the recent visit of Warren Buffet to India. I have not seen the interviews and so I don't really know what he has said/commented etc.
But I do beg to differ from your post. People living in India are not very charitable and often I find it unfortuante.