A tale of two countries

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Photo: Reuters

THERE ARE indeed two India’s: Rich India and Poor India.

Rich India feeds on Poor India, but Poor India does not necessarily get to do the same. At least not with equal Vigour, equal depth or equal degree of passion.

Rich India gets its land from Poor India, usually at a pittance. The poor don’t really know the price of land, not when they cannot see beyond the horizon of the next meal, the next wedding or the next childbirth.

Rich India also gets its labour from Poor India, at prices that are considered competitive.

In contrast, the poor don’t eat as much as the rich. They get just about sustenance level food, which makes for the day’s three square meals and possibly a night’s drink.

So, does Rich India do enough for the poor?

The answer is a resounding NO!

There are too many poor people, and too few rich people, with a small sub-set with a genuine interest in the poor. Mostly, it’s lip-sympathy or a wee bit of cheque-book philanthropy, usually for CSR brownie points. Look deeply into one defining ratio in the books of companies: net profit to that of CSR expenditure. The percentage looks very-very nano in most. In a few, it is as healthy as two percent — the same companies spend as much as 4.5 percent of net profit on R&D and 2.7 percent on average on consumer market research.

Giving is an art, a science and a philosophy. The art of giving has been mastered by corporate India. The science of giving has been taken care of. The philosophy of giving is unfortunately not learnt at all.

To re-learn the philosophy of giving, understand this:

 The first degree of giving is what you just need to give: to save on tax, for instance.

• The second degree is giving what can get you CSR brownie points for, an award or two and write-ups on your benign efforts.

 The third degree of giving is what we need to focus on: Give till it hurts! When an enterprise digs into its profits to give openly to the poor till it hurts.

I believe that only the last option can help balance out the need, wants and desires of Poor India on every count. If Rich India wants to feed Poor India for a while, affirmative action, to the third degree, is necessary.

Harish Bijoor is CEO, Haish Bijoor Consults INC

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