Money matters

Should the making of money be the only lodestar in life for our youngsters?


When an Indian makes it big in the advanced western world and breaks into the top echelons of an iconic company like Microsoft, as the Hyderabad-born and Manipal-trained Satya Nadella has done, it is a matter of pride for all Indians but is it really necessary to go to town about how much money he will make in his new post?

When one reads as a front-page news under bold head-lines that he will earn a whopping salary of about $ 18 million (112 crore rupees) a year and that, not to be outdone, an Indian company, TCS, pays even more to its CEO and a list of how much other honchos of the Indian IT industry make follows, one cannot help wondering what sort of message all this is likely to send to our younger generation. That the more money you make, the greater you are? Should the making of money be the only lodestar in life for our youngsters?

It is nobody’s argument that money is of no importance. It is a matter of common sense that money is needed to lead a reasonably good life and provide our family the minimum comfort and our children the future that they deserve. Even our traditional wisdom places ‘artha’ (wealth) next only to ‘dharma’ (righteousness) among the four ‘Purusharthas’ (goals in life). But when earning of money becomes the be-all and end-all of existence, it is time to pause and think.

Even our education system is geared to provide employment opportunities, rather than knowledge for its own sake. This is as it should be in a developing country like ours with nearly 40% of the population below the poverty line. But there is also a growing middle class, with fairly comfortable living standards and it is among these that the clamour for Engineering or Medical seats for their wards is the loudest. That is only as a means for getting lucrative jobs and not with any service motive towards society.

How many young doctors come forward to serve in rural areas, where medical care is so badly needed? Even Engineers coming out of colleges prefer to take up software jobs rather than those in the manufacturing sector, which pay less. The best among them will not be content with a mere engineering degree but will go in for a management degree in addition, which is a sure passport to a fat-salaried job. Most of the IIT graduates migrate abroad in search of greener pastures.

All this is not to denigrate young people aspiring for a good career and a prosperous life. But somewhere along the line, a lurking feeling arises: Are we as a nation becoming too money-minded? Where is the pursuit of excellence? Do we have a single University, like the old Oxford and Cambridge universities that nurture scholarship for its own sake?

What more proof of our obsession with money is needed than the wide-spread corruption in this country? To get elected even to a state assembly, one has to spend crores and crores. The stalwarts who won us our freedom made huge sacrifices; many of them left lucrative law practices without a second thought, at the call of a certain frail figure in loin cloth. Shall we ever again see the dawn of such idealism?

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