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February 11, 2015 ·

A myth is around that poverty is virtuous. Many rich people may live by and in sin, but that does not make poverty virtuous. Religions try to attract people by this myth that God is for the poor and waiting to reward them in the next world in return for their faith and suffering in this world. No one believes seriously in this call.

Poverty is the bait not only of religion but of communism as well. That is not surprising as communism is a quasi-religion. Poverty can only breed crime and violence. The widespread naxalism in India is perhaps encouraged by poverty.

Simple living and contentedness with the just fruits of one’s labour are virtues. That does not imply poverty or that one should espouse poverty. It only implies that one should make just endeavours and that a system must be in place to check unjust endeavours. It implies that one should secure the means to fulfill his wants and insulate his mind against greed and multiplication of wants. It does not make accumulation of wealth by itself a sin, but hoarding unproductive wealth is a social crime.

Wealth is like reservoir of water. Water reservoirs help in irrigation, ecology, supply of water for consumption, etc. If all water drains into the sea, perhaps life will be threatened. In much the same way, if everyone is equally poor, there will be no capital formation and no economic activity.

The socialists believed that if wealth is in the hands of the state, it will serve egalitarianism. Though it was flawed at root, it has been followed in many places and has been proved to be a mirage. The state is not an efficient user of wealth. It breeds only other ills and evils.

In India, we have reason to despise the rich as many have accumulated wealth by dubious means, live in vulgar ostentation, and do not contribute to general welfare as in many capitalist countries. The state has failed in governance. Still, it is far wrong to infer that wealth is evil by itself.

A harmonious society is possible only by making all live in satisfaction of their basic wants by earning for it. It is necessary as a first step to lay aside glorification of poverty and make earning possible.