Of Civilizations and Cultures

Am a great fan of Aakar Patel and his articles in Mint.  Though i might not agree with everything he writes, i have to admit that he is of a different school of thought.  Here he mentions the difference in the way the Parsis have done their bit for the society and their difference with people of other faith in general in India.

The Birlas built six temples (India always being in urgent need of more religion). They built temples in Jaipur, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Patna and Kolkata. Most of these are to Lakshminarayan, and these are only the big ones. No Indian family has built more, or bigger, temples than the Birlas, and that is their contribution to our culture.

Mukesh Ambani is building on Altamount Road a structure called Antilla, the most expensive home in history. Its architects Hirsch Bedner say their estimate for it is around $2 billion. That is Rs9,000 crore, and four people will live in this house. That is Ambani’s contribution to our culture.

The Birlas built schools for the rich, and the Ambanis made a school for millionaires. BITS-Pilani’s fee is Rs1 lakh per year, Birla Vidyamandir’s fee is Rs1 lakh per year and Dhirubhai Ambani International School’s fee just for classes XI and XII is Rs7.57 lakh.

At the Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital (“Compassionate Quality Healthcare”), a check-up for headaches costs Rs2,850. At the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (“Every Life Matters”), the wellness check-up costs Rs5,000.

At the Tata Memorial Hospital, which treats cancer, healthcare is free.

Of Tata Sons’ 398,563 shares, 65.8% is held by charitable trusts (Ratan Tata owns 0.84%). How much money are we talking about? Tata Sons’ net profit last year was Rs3,780 crore.

Tata Sons owns 74% of Tata Consultancy Services and 84% of Tata Motors. If wealthy Indians want to give back to society, they need only buy Jaguar and Land Rover, and not Mercedes and BMW. Tata Sons owns 31% of Tata Steel, 20% of Tata Teleservices and 22% of Tata Tea.

Last year, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust gave away Rs201 crore. Sir Ratan Tata Trust gave away Rs153 crore. This is not CSR (corporate social responsibility) or other corporate varnish: It’s pure philanthropy. Witness its quality: Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tata Energy Research Institute (Teri), Indian Institute of Science, National Centre for the Performing Arts. That is civilization.

Read the rest of the article here

Read all of Aakar Patel’s previous articles on Mint here

An aside, have been reading a lot.  Simultaneously reading business books, magazines and not to mention have been visiting library more often.  Have passed on the reading bug which i had caught from my dad to biwi ji.

christmas star

Though, its been pretty boring last few weeks of the year.  Its been raining like crazy in Singapore and is good to snuggle in bed with no intention of  going to work.

christmas tree

Its the last month of the year and Christmas is round the corner.  Singapore is all decked up like a pretty girl, still the festivity of Christmas at Hyderabad something that i miss. The smell of cakes being baked, the waking up to cold mornings, blowing invisible cigarette smoke into the wind, the Christmas tree at home, the decorations, the lighting up of home, the star hanging outside the balcony….i miss them all.

At least biwi ji is here with me this Christmas.  We plan to put up a small Christmas tree at home along with some decorations.  After the disaster of baking a cake for birthday, no such adventures are in mind for Christmas.  We just plan to buy one.   Since Christmas falls on a friday this year, its going to be a long weekend.

Hope the rest of the year passes off with peace and happiness all around.

Picture source: Wikipedia & VickyB

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