Wealth is notional. For most of us who sleep comfortably at night, it is enough to have a roof over our heads, a comfortable bed to sleep on, and money for food and clothing, philosophises REENA SINGH
My son often storms into our room whenever I am watching the news on my laptop or reading clips from news sites on my phone. “What does your opinion matter?” he often tells me, ticking me off for burying my nose into the toxic news of the day. “Can you change anything with your armchair politics?” is usually the next volley that he throws at me.
Sometimes, I argue with him, making some vague points about living in awareness; at other times, I keep quiet, asking myself whether my opinion matters to anyone? Should we be concerned about what is happening on the political sphere? Does it really make any difference which political party rules the country? After all, as ordinary citizens, all we need to do is to follow some set rules, pay our taxes and respect the constitution. And life will pass by…at its own pace.
Just to get to the point, ever since January 24, one of our countrymen, hovering at the top second or third spot on the world’s rich list has now reached No. 27 – all in the space of a month. Really, does it matter if his group companies have lost some $135 billion-plus in market capitalisation in the matter of a month, according to bloomberg? After all, how much does he need to survive? Even with his current horde of $45 billion, ports, coal mines and cement factories that he owns, he still has enough to eat his two to four chapatis at every meal, money to drink his purified two litres of water, and enough for his standard three to four helpings of green veggies, dal or non-veg for his protein needs and a bit of carbs.
This besides, he needs his four wheels to drive around and the capacity to fly all over the world lest his business interests require him to show up in a particular location in person. Isn’t that so?
Perhaps, that is the reason our government and the man, himself, is so silent on this tumultuous tumble from 2 to 27 on the Global Rich List. For, does it matter if you have $ 170 billion or just $ 1.7 billion in your kitty? It doesn’t matter to the rest of us, for we can’t really fathom what it means to have your private jet taken away or to no longer have calling cards of PMs and Presidents in your pocket or not have their private numbers in your fast dial list on your phone.
Wealth is entirely notional. Most people are comfortable sleeping on a comfortable mattress, tucked in at night between clean and soft sheets with the AC or fan giving out comfortable air that takes care of the humidity and the heat.
So, what really is the hullaballoo all about? Perhaps this sudden drop in one man’s wealth has made a difference to the stock market and to shareholders who had greedily hoarded stocks and shares of the companies in question, or perhaps it is of concern to those government agencies who were foolish enough to put all their eggs in just one or two baskets? Their notional loss, so far is being calculated at Rs 50,000 crore.
So, what does this teach us?
It definitely comes with a lesson. That most of us who do not play around with big stakes at volatile markets needn’t ever fear, for primarily it is greed that leads us down that uncertain path. And so long as we play sensible and safe, following logic and our hearts, we can continue living our peaceful, middle-class lives, content in the knowledge that so long as we have a secure, loan free roof over our heads, and money to buy our food, clothing and meet our medical needs, we will be largely okay and be able to walk tall, without hiding or dodging questions about SEBI, stock markets, market capitalisations and whatever else that large corporations battle with day in and day out.
After all, when we return to our real home, we go empty-handed, without any bank balance, but with a bagful of our karma, which may eventually decide our place in our next life.
Reena Singh has more than 39 years’ experience in senior editorial positions in The Times of India (TOI) and Genpact. She was Deputy Editor with TOI’s spiritual newspaper, The Speaking Tree, where she spent more than nine years.