J&K Governor terms insensitive wealthy Indians as rotten potatoes

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Thomas Lim
In one of the strongest emotional outbursts, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on December 19, 2018 said that a section of wealthy people of the country are like “rotten potatoes” as they are insensitive towards the society. Speaking at the state’s Sainik Welfare Society in winter capital Jammu, he said that this section of the society does not do charity of even a rupee, and a few like this are in the upper classes. Malik stated that he considers them as ‘Saday Se Aalu’ (rotten potatoes).
The Governor was reacting to a question by a journalist who pointed to the country’s wealthiest man, who spent Rs 700 crore on the marriage of his daughter. He asked whether he does any charity, he said he does not do charity but adds to the wealth of the country. Does he increase the wealth of the country by spending Rs 700 crore on the marriage of his daughter?

Malik also cited the facts that in Europe and other countries, they do charity. The owner of Microsoft spends 99 per cent of his earnings on charity. He added with Rupees 700 crore, 700 big schools could have been built in the state and 7,000 widows of slain soldiers could have brought up their children.
Malik, however, added that the country’s society is not formed by the upper classes but by farmers, employees, people working in industries and men in the armed forces.
It is a fact that India is now into the sixth year of its unique experiment of legally binding companies to be socially responsible, as an attempted push by the government to solve the nation’s most challenging social problems which was based on the idea that the corporate sector will come up with transformative solutions that will scale up impact across the country. But in most cases, it was found that due to poor execution of the projects and lack of strategic planning, innovation and experimentation and the lack of engagement by businesses failed to yield the expected high-impact results. It is important for businesses to understand the challenges faced by the citizens to make a meaningful impact.
The CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programme has matured over the years, but no significant impact has been made in the development issues that India faces. There are many challenges that need to be addressed before CSR becomes a powerful force for change.
Data from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs reveals that out of 5,097 companies which filed annual reports until December 31, 2016, for the financial year 2015-16, only 3,118 had done some CSR expenditure. For the financial year 2014-15, 3,139 companies had spent 74 per cent of the prescribed CSR expenditure. Many of the companies made their CSR investments to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. The reasons stated by the companies for zero spending include non-finalisation of location of the project, technical difficulties and organisational capacity to identify projects still in creation. Some of the companies even cited that their profile does not gel with the concept of CSR and they are not required to constitute a CSR committee.
These findings provide two major insights about Indian businesses. First, while many of them are making efforts to address societal challenges, they lack strategic planning to identify the ideal projects for investment. The grants made by most of the companies have no long-term strategic thinking behind it. Second, most of the businesses still do not consider it their responsibility to invest in the advancement of communities around them. They fail to consider CSR as a holistic view of the impact that businesses have on society and the environment through their operations. Even if these companies make some investments in future, their behaviour suggests that there will be a lack of engagement.
The 14th President of India, Ram Nath Kovind has asked the rich to renew India’s age-old culture of philanthropy by voluntarily giving up their entitlements for those with greater need while giving his first Republic Day eve address this year. The President also spoke of the need to move ahead rapidly on sustainable development goals like housing for all and the obligation to eliminate the curse of poverty in the shortest possible time.
Kovind had urged all citizens to collate privileges and entitlements and then look at less-privileged members of a similar background, those who are starting off from where we once started off. He believes that the spirit of philanthropy and of giving is part of Indian age-old culture. Let us renew it, and introspect on the requirement of the society.
The President said that the highest stage of India’s nation building project lies in contributing towards building a better world, a composite and cohesive world, a world at peace with itself and at peace with nature.
The erstwhile educational hub of North East- Shillong (Meghalaya) is now considered a Mecca of fake universities. At the same time, the mushrooming of various universities in the state still remains unchecked by the authority concerned.
The educational system is about to see a revolution as the universities here will be adopting semester system in place of the existing annual system. However, the very foundation of educational in Primary, Upper Primary up to the Higher Secondary is yet to be fully upgraded in terms of syllabi to meet the present day challenges. How much longer the society will still pin hope on government funds to support the education department?
It is strange that the 46 – year old state still lacks philanthropy to support the education system.
It is an open secret that the elite in Meghalaya are least concerned about this, even if a self-claimed university in the state capital is offering just a Distance Education in the name of fancy College without fulfilling the basic requirements. Both the affluent and the government are apathetic on the course curriculum and its relevance to meet the demand of the market, as most of their own wards are pursuing their studies outside the state and even abroad.
Like the rest of the nation, the student unions here too are more involved in various political agendas rather than educational related issues. The NGOs here and the state government have given a free hand to some private schools and colleges in money making using educational institutions as normal business establishment. Such unscrupulous citizens are easily spotted in the corridor of power, lobbying for projects in the name of education to expand their business in various government departments as suppliers, contractors and even as consultants.
Meghalaya has a number of billionaires who have even expanded their business abroad, owning flats in almost all the major cities and even abroad and have at the same time accumulated uncountable areas of landed properties in the state. They, however, are not contributing and giving back to uplift the society. Such philanthropy in the education system is absent, except a marginal contribution in IIT.
It is time for such business tycoons, politicians and bureaucrats to pay back to the society and contribute to develop the education system in the state so that in the long run the children from this part of the region need not travel outside to seek pursue higher studies.
Meghalaya needs to break away from the syndrome of government employee even in education; for that philanthropy is the only answer. The achievers and the tycoons here must extend their contribution for this cause; in return we can tap the human resources who in return will contribute by developing our own society.



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