Wednesday, February 28, 2001

For your child's sake?

There is only one way to put a great fortune to use: giving while you are alive to causes you think are important.
Gautam Chikermane
Poot kapoot to kyon dhan sanchay/ Poot sapoot to kyon dhan sanchay Why bequeath wealth to an unworthy son/ Why bequeath wealth to a worthy son
-–Sant Kabirdas (1398-1448)
One of the flimsiest and commonest excuses for not parting with the wealth one accumulates in one’s lifetime is that the wealth is being created for one’s children–their education, their security, their financial freedom. One has chosen to be an entrepreneur, struggled and created wealth against all odds so that one’s children can go ahead and become poets, if they should be so inclined. There should be nothing they want and not be able to get simply for lack of money. After all, society didn’t help me when I was in need; so, what moral grounds does the same community, government, nation have to expect this philanthropy from me, these people ask.
Ironically, the answer is: for the very same children on whose tiny shoulders they put the gun and shoot off this excuse. In June 1889, millionaire businessman Andrew Carnegie–whose millions could finance the US economy for much more than a month, unlike Bill Gates’ billions, which may be able to finance it for two days–wrote a beautiful article that extolled the rational virtues of charity and broke all the myths associated with the subject. His aim was to explore the options one had in respect of what to do with one’s wealth after one passes on. According to him, there were three modes in which surplus wealth can be disposed of: "It can be left to the families of the decedents; or it can be bequeathed for public purposes; or, finally, it can be administered during their lives by its possessors."
Opinion in Outlook Money

Friday, February 16, 2001

Opportunities abound

The wealth creator suddenly has greater access to the one missing factor of production: money.
Gautam Chikermane
As you read these lines, there’s an exciting career being born in this country, a career that could also generate remarkable wealth. If you venture into it, you will get a monthly salary that will range from above average to lavish. This is aside from a heavy pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow–if you get to the end, that is. I’m talking about entrepreneurship. With the changing nature of the big picture, smaller opportunities are coming at us at warp speed. Yes, the Internet and its slew of accompanying technologies is the one major driver of this career, but even outside of the bits and bytes, our country is changing–for the better. Indians are sitting at the cutting edge of the digital revolution, new prosperity is forcing markets to mature, corruption is down, licences are virtually over, and most important, the face of capital markets is changing.
India has been, is, and hopefully will remain, a nation of entrepreneurs. The one change that the financial markets are driving today is putting resources in the hands of the prime driver. The entrepreneur suddenly has greater access to the one factor of production that has been missing in her quest to create wealth: money. For four decades after freedom, India Inc remained chained and enterprise was sacrificed at the altar of greater good, or socialism. Hence the licences, the inspectors, the harassment, the corruption, the babus, the politicians–a mixture potent enough to shoo away the most dynamic among men. And yet Indian enterprise survived. But only just. It could not, for instance, ensure economies of scale that have helped China advance so much so fast–go to any shop today and you’ll know what I’m talking about: for virtually every Indian product there is a cheaper and better Chinese product available.
Opinion in Outlook Money