Wednesday, August 4, 2010

If you are a millionaire – would you pledge half of your wealth to charity?

No matter how much wealth one may amass, it never seems to be enough. And in pursuit of more and more, one lives the life of a miser to have his vaults topped up. Before he gets a chance to think that he finally has enough, one day he lies silently in the black limousine in a wooden box heading towards a place which is even smaller than his once mighty linen covered bed. So why do we keep accumulating money if we cannot make use of it and leave it as a bone of contention for the heirs.

My ex landlord is a pretty rich guy. He owns almost a dozen plots in various prestigious housing schemes besides three houses that he has rented out. He lives in a century old house which may fall any day just to mark his presence so as to be a rightful heir besides his brothers. But despite being rich, he moves on a motorcycle in a dress that anyone would take him as a poor just struggling and dragging his life. But there is one good thing about him. Every week or two, he arranges food for the passer byes in his area mosque. Any one is welcome to have the lunch as he does it as a charity – to please Allah and no one else.

And that makes him a different man. And he confides that the wealth that he owns is because of his charity. He scores a point there. And I also promised to myself that from henceforth I will also follow the suit.

But would people with millions and billions part with half of their wealth to charity? Well not many but a few would. Recently on insistence from Bill Gates, the Windows and Microsoft fame billionaire, some 40 billionaires of the USA have pledged their half of the wealth for charity. That’s a great gesture and applaudable. A survey conducted after Bill Gates’ initiative shows some 83% saying yes to pledge half of their wealth if they were billionaires. And I just wondered how many of our millionaires, if not billionaires, would like to pledge a part, not even half, of their wealth to charity before angel of death approaches them? None I suppose.

I look around for our wealthy politicians, industrialists and the mighty feudal lords and find no one who could make a similar gesture. What to talk of parting with the half, hardly any of these pay the income tax. Once before the elections, when the politicians declared their assets and the income tax they paid, I was flabbergasted to know that besides owning castles in foreign lands and mighty estates inland, they were paying income tax even lesser than a grade 20 government officer. This speaks volumes of their honesty and contribution for this poor country of ours.

Those who care for poor live on some other lands. Perhaps our rich have yet to accumulate wealth they have targeted before they may start to consider of parting away a part of it.

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