Three Questions.

The 3 questions below were raised by Krishan Khanna, at a 2 day Global Summit on Social Business hosted by Nobel Laureate Prof. Mhd. Yunus in Vienna in November 2011.

There were in all, 525 participants from 40 countries. The discussion was on various topics such as youth, poverty, unemployment, micro finance, skills, education, terrorism, black money, war, health care, etc..The 3 Questions were what he asked the Speakers and Panelists.

“I am a technocrat, an engineer and a social worker in India. About 25 years in Business and 15 years in Social Work. If we could address the following three questions, our Planet would be a better place for us and our future generations…..but we seem to be hell bent to do just the opposite………………..WHY?

1. Tax Havens….why we do not need them…WHY?

World Leaders in Business & Politics talk of Ethics in Business, Corporate Governance, etc….BUT all of them allow Tax Havens to flourish? These double standards need to stop as soon as possible. This Black Money is probably owned in these locations, by less than 1% of the World Population who probably control nearly 20% to 40% of the world’s wealth…this is BLACK MONEY. The G-22, UN, Citizen Groups need to work on demolishing these ‘Citadels Of Blatant Corruption’ and see that all these funds are re-cycled into their respective Governments, taxes paid and a small portion of this is re-cycled into areas like Education , Health-Care & Social Business for the 3rd World and Developing Economies of this Planet!

2. Export of Arms & Ammunition since the last 66 years to the least developed countries of Latin America, Africa, ME and Asia…WHY?…Why not Export Relevant Education?

The least developed countries of the world needed education, primary health-care after the WW II…but what they received was the exactly the opposite,very freely, was Arms, Bombs, and Hardware for destruction of Human Beings! 9/11 was only one result of all this. The western border between Pakistan & India is lit up at night and can be easily seen by astronauts!. We in India have been shouting from the rooftops about terrorism from Pakistan…to protect our selves from constant infiltration…but the USA gave $50 billion as Grants and Aid, most was used for arms and ammunition against India…How sad for the two poor countries of this world with a combined population of 1.4 billion? Similar stories and past is already known to all in other 3rd world countries….What a shame! We now have children in Afghanistan of 10 years in age who can beat a trained soldier in the operation of an AK-47, but cannot read and write. Why? What exactly are we trying to prove??

3. Estimated expenditure of $3500 billion or $3.5 trillion on world wide Arms and Ammunition….WHY?

The total GDP of all countries is about $70,000 billion about $70 Trillion….so this expenditure on arms is about 5% of world GDP. This is ONLY meant for fighting each other on this little Planet….WHY? The Younger Generation needs to ask this Question…the older Generation is fossilized and I suspect that even their brains are inactive and dormant. This defense is NOT meant for some external invasion from outer space or for fighting the biggest problems on our little Planet. Even if this Arms Race could be reduced by 10% and the funds diverted to Education, Primary Health-care and Social Business, this beautiful world of ours would be truly be what it is meant to be…A Paradise.”

Quite what answers he would have received in that panel apart, the questions should cause all of us to pause and ponder. Please do give me your feedback and comments.

Middle Class Patriotism In The USA And India.

Thomas L Friedman of the New York Times is a world famous columnist and writer who is highly respected all over the world. He quotes American Vice-President hopeful Sarah Palin as addressing the other hopeful Biden as follows; “she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”

It is not the purpose of this post to explain what Mr. Friedman had to say in his piece. The purpose is to transpose this comment to India, and see quite how it fits with the Indian middle class, to which this writer belongs and which pays the maximum individual income tax in the country.

If any politician in India was to make the same comment about the Indian middle class, he will most likely get away with it. This is primarily because; the Indian middle class is almost entirely urban and semi-urban in composition. The big vote banks come from rural India where patriotism itself is a notion that does nothing to get or nor get votes. What matters there are totally different from what the tax paying middle class in India are concerned with.

The Indian middle class has a love hate relationship with income taxes. If it can get away without paying it, it will do so, primarily because it believes that the establishment, read politicians and babus make most of their income from either legitimate tax-free methods or, more often from unaccounted for black money. There is nothing immoral about this; it is just following role models.

If however, an Indian politician dependent entirely on the middle classes for his votes was to say what Ms. Palin had to say about the American middle classes, he can kiss his election good bye. For the Indian middle class, no matter what the provocation, their patriotism cannot be questioned. The same fellows who will not stand up when the national anthem is played will jump up and down like yo-yos if they were to be called unpatriotic.

Purely as a bystander and interested observer, I will be watching quite how the American middle class responds to this provocation from one of their possible future Presidents!

For my American readers, a question – What is your opinion on this?