Opinion

Charity, for $58,000

Charity, for $58,000

Giving away money, it turns out, is an expensive proposition. Or, to be less blunt, if you stand to inherit billions and yet, your conscience eats away at you at the inequality in the world, it will cost a mere $58,000 (Rs 40,29,463 as of June 11) and a few weeks at Harvard University and the University of Zurich to learn the intricacies of “impact capitalism”. Essentially, the course appears to be a primer to get rich while doing good, and presumably, preening with self-congratulation as you have an “impact” while making the big bucks.

Now, those who haven’t been to Harvard to learn how to spend their inheritance may ask the obvious question: If the millennial billionaires are so torn up about poverty, wouldn’t it just be easier to give away $58,000? And those who don’t have an inheritance to speak of will ask: Does the pull of conscience need to buttressed by proof of profits? In fact, the course on offer at Harvard and Zurich (shame on those seeking a cheap punchline around Swiss bank accounts) is not only a waste, it’s redundant. As far back as 1988, the Hindi film industry tackled the question of spending money to make in Malamaal and all young billionaires need to do is invest in subtitling the film before watching Naseeruddin Shah hilariously overcome all manner of obstacles in getting rid of his money.

According to James Gilford, the founder of the course at Harvard, “the heavy lifting of say, pulling a billion people out of poverty, has to be through sustainable capitalism”. The billionaire bleeding hearts, whether knowingly or unknowingly, seem to want to eliminate the middle man: After all, the task of taking from the (super) rich, and redistributing some of their excess wealth into social wealth and public goods is the traditional arena of governments. Who would have thought that there was a profitable market in making anarchists out of the super-rich.