“Hello, Are you not declaring your wealth? Dr. Manmohan
Singh and his ministers have declared their wealth.” Lulu, my parrot asked me.
“Oh, you must be going crazy, Lulu. I do not have enough
money....nothing that can be called wealth.....moreover who is interested in
knowing how much I own? Not even Anna Hazare! ” I said.
“Do you own a car?”
“Yes, I do, an old one, but it is not for sale.”
“Do you own an apartment?” Lulu asked rubbing his beak on my shoulder.
“Yes, I do, a twenty-five year old apartment, but it is not for
sale. Where will I go if I sell it?”
“Do you have some fixed deposits with banks?”
“Yes, I do, but those are just enough to see this old man
through a ‘rainy day’.”
“Do you own a parcel of land or a resort?”
“No. I don’t. You must be joking, Lulu. A salaried man does
not own land or resort unless he gets it from his father. Or father in law. Why
exclude him?” I said.
“I really wonder what you have achieved in life, given that
you were born in India, the land of opportunities for all those who wanted to
“You have put your finger on the most sensitive issue, Lulu.
But I have earned whatever I have, honestly.”
“Sounds like ‘mere
paas maa hai.’ What do you understand by ‘wealth’?” Lulu asked fluttering his wings.
“Hmmmm.....Difficult to define. You are getting very ‘professorial’,
“Do you know that the word wealth comes from the Old English
words “weal” (well-being) and “th” (condition) which taken together means “the
condition of well-being”?”
“No...I am learning something new. Go on ...”
“And the internet informs me... Did you know that the father
of accounting Lucca Paciolli, a 16th century Franciscan monk and
mathematician, never defined the word “wealth” nor did he provide a definition of
“profit”? To this day accountants have no clear definition of either word.”
“Tell me Lulu, have you met the political leaders recently?
They seem to be capitalising on this ambiguity!” I laughed.
“Well....Robert Kennedy said that ‘wealth means things that make life worthwhile’.”
“That too sounds like ‘mere
paas maa hai.’ What Kennedy said is a very sweeping statement yet very
true, very accurately saying what wealth is.”
“So did your political leaders tell you what they value most,
what makes their life worthwhile?”
“Did they declare what personal and professional values they
preach and practice, for we can understand what makes their life worthwhile if
they tell us about it?” Lulu asked. It made me wonder if he had been seeing some TV anchor of late.
“Nah, they can’t! People will rip them apart if they did.”
“Can you declare?”
“Must you ask me such a question? I am not a political
leader who is under public gaze for his honesty or corruption. I am a retired
person who has made his little chunk of money honestly. That is the problem
with these declarations. The ‘Genuine’ wealth, being what Robert Kennedy meant
it to be, is never declared.”
“You are right! But remember what you practice is in public
arena and your personal and professional values are known to people, even if
you attempt covering them up. And tell that to your political leaders!” Lulu
said as he resumed his flight towards Delhi.
PS: The Prime Minister and other ministers have declared
their wealth today. [Link