Philanthropy and Social Capital

A friend repeatedly tells me of the many people he personally knows who wouldn’t even miss if a lakh of rupees was stolen from them and whose life style wouldn’t change one bit if they should suddenly lose 10 lakhs or more. But these very people would wince if approached to support any worthy public cause or activity. People who brag about their financial successes clam-up and withdraw like snails when anyone suggests such contributions. But they are ever willing to fund monuments to their egos.

Time – Eternal or Finite?

When a secretary of George Washington, excusing himself for being late, said that his

watch was too slow, the general's reply was, "You must get a new watch, or I must get

a new secretary." If this were the case, most of us in Hyderabad would be changing

secretaries every week. Emerson said, "I could never think well of a man's intellectual or

moral character, if he was habitually unfaithful to his appointments.'

All of us have numerous experiences of meetings which started late and ended even

Queues and Commonsense

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Between the big things we cannot do and little things we will not, there is always the danger of doing nothing. Regulating the city traffic or setting up systems for garbage pick-up – all require more planning. But simple things like standing in queue for services? This is one thing that can be easily accomplished.

Can We Keep Public Places Clean?

Indians follow rules. Indians are law-abiding citizens. Indians keep their homes and surroundings spic and span. Indians don’t throw orange peels or papers from moving vehicles, nor do they litter public places or spit on the roads. Where do all these Indians live? In countries where importance is given to rules and where norms of community behaviour exist more in the practice than in the breach. The Indian whose civic behaviour abroad is exemplary does not think twice about littering public places once s/he reaches India?

Public Nuisance and Civic Rights

These examples can be multiplied.

Deify, then crucify. Lionize, then demonize

I am compelled to talk about a strange syndrome that is endemic among the Indian population. The initial symptoms of this disorder are acute:  the heart begins to beat rapidly, tongue gets tied in knots and the victim temporarily loses all intelligence and memory power.   The chronic symptoms are more dangerous: the victim’s spine slowly loses its strength and then disappears altogether; the knees remain permanently bended.  In some extreme cases (seen in parts of Tamil Nadu and Bombay), the victim is simply unable to get up from the prone position (‘saashtanga pranam’).