Mr. Bachchan, Tirupati and Indian Charity

Is anyone else disgusted by the recent news item mentioning that Mr. Amitabh Bachchan will be donating jewelry worth Rs. 1 Crore to the Tirupati Temple thanking the lord for his quick recovery?

Now what Mr. Bachchan does with his money is his own business – but I am entitled to my opinion because it is an indicator of the rot that has set in the moral and religious values of India. In a country like India, where tens of millions are still below the poverty line, it is an abomination that temples like Tirupati keep getting richer. In fact, I did a quick back of the envelope calculation and came up with this:

Money it takes to feed a person/day

Rs. 50

Number of days in a year

365

Cost of food/year

Rs. 18,250

Money donated by Bachchan

1,00,00,000

Number of people who could have been fed for an entire year for that much money

550

Five hundred and fifty people getting food in their stomachs for an entire year? And he chose to get yet another piece of jewelry for a statue that already is decked up to its gills? Look at this picture and tell me if there is any need for any more jewels? I know that the Tirupati Balaji organization runs some charitable organizations. If at all he had to donate money, could he have not donated it to those organizations? Does he think that God will be happier getting a diamond wristband compared to feeding poor people?

India is woefully inadequate when it comes to philanthropy and it is made worse by such donations to temples because it makes people think that donating to temples and donating to charitable organizations is the same.

From my personal experience, temples in India are rarely involved in their communities and rarely take up any kind of social work in their vicinity. There are honorable exceptions to that statement which includes some of the larger temple trusts, though what percentage of the funds that they receive is actually used for social work is anybody’s guess.

But by and large, in towns big and small across the country, how many pundits have you seen who go around teaching the lessons of Gita to disadvantaged people in their communities? Most of the times, they are either busy decking up the statues in their temples or busy doing special Pujas for the privileged to petition God on their behalf to write off their bad deeds. So the money given to temples, more often than not, goes to creating bigger statues or bigger temples or bigger bellies of the pundits.

As for Mr. Bachchan, it just reinforces my belief that he is as bad a human being as good as he is an actor. The entire country was praying for him when he was in the hospital and this is how he repays? By having a tete-a-tete with possibly the most corrupt and rich (don’t they always go hand in hand) temple organization in the country?

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