A life of understanding and empathy isn't just ethical, but also healthier for the individual
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” — Leo Buscaglia
Webster’s dictionary gives the following meaning to the word empathy: “The intellectual identification with, or vicarious experiencing of, the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” Empathy is more enduring and valuable than sympathy or romantic love. It is derived from many roots, mainly Greek empatheia (affection) and has a lot to do with the root paschein (to suffer). It is also influenced by the German root Einfuhlung.
Man is here to be of use to others in society. This is the essence of spirituality which simply implies sharing and caring. However, empathy goes a step further, in trying to understand another’s feelings and responding to that in whatever manner possible. If we do just that, our very existence becomes meaningful and tranquil. The English poet, DH Lawrence, said it beautifully in the following lines:
“Our ingress into this world was naked and bare
Our progress in this world is trouble and care,
Our egress from this world would be nobody knows where,
If we do well here, we will do well there”
Nothing gives one greater pleasure than to see a tear wiped from another’s eye. “It is not for thee alone, pass it on, pass it on…” said Jesus to his followers. It is in giving that one gets. History is replete with examples of very rich people who realised this fact late in life, changed their attitude and live happily thereafter. Nelson Rockefeller Sr, John Nobel (of dynamite fame), Bill Gates (the software giant) and many others have benefited by being empathetic to the needs of the less fortunate in society.
Man’s proclivity for comfort and his greed would, otherwise, destroy every God-given resource on this planet. Monetary economy of competition and jealousy is not conducive to good health even. Medical scientific research has come up with surprising findings that agree with ancient metaphysics. Negative thoughts, like hatred, jealousy, pride, anger, and frustration, with the consequent depression, are known to be the leading risk factors for major killers like heart attack, cancer, and stroke.
The present tendency towards hatred could only be self-destructive. “An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind,” Mahatma Gandhi said. At times, your altruism may be rewarded with betrayal. The antidote to any consequent resentment is to forgive. Forgiveness is the greatest asset of an evolved mind. People with a positive attitude are shown to live five to seven years longer, on an average, than those suffering negative thoughts all the time.
It is a pity that even in this century, nearly 90% of the world’s population lives in misery, while the remaining 10% enjoys 90% of the resources. This gulf between the haves and the have-nots is, if anything, widening by the day. Even in the advanced West, there is a massive divide between the rich and the poor and, over the years, the rich have become richer and the poor poorer. This inverse care law operates in every field of human activity. The rich practise the ‘Mathew Law’ of the Bible in its perverse interpretation: “He, who hath, shall be given.”
Unless we live wisely, we will very soon perish. Man has been destroying this biosphere with all kinds of artificial pollutants. The stockpiling of nuclear waste too, is threatening every life on this planet.
In a manner of speaking, we are all but bundles of jumping lepto-quarks; the smallest sub-atomic particles. These lepto-quarks change from one to another constantly. One human being’s lepto-quarks today would have formed part of another human or animal sometime in the past. Hence, we are all inter-connected and inter-dependent. Together we make up this whole world. Against this background, empathy seems to be the all-important mantra for man’s future survival.
“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.” — Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.
Modi met Xi Jinping and discussed various issues including the need to resolve the boundary question in an amicable manner. China also invited India to attend a summit of Asia and Pacific leaders in November
In a significant development, China on Tuesday invited India to attend a summit of Asia and Pacific (APEC) leaders. Earlier, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping and discussed various issues including the need to resolve the boundary question in an amicable manner.
The two leaders, who arrived almost at the same time last evening for attending the BRICS summit, engaged shortly for what was described as "good discussions and good meeting".
"Had a very fruitful meeting with Chinese President (Mr) Xi Jinping. We discussed a wide range of issues," Modi said in a tweet.
The meeting was scheduled for 40 minutes but it went on for 80 minutes as it was a freewheeling discussion without any constraints.
The two leaders appeared well prepared for the meeting as both of them referred to the statements made by the other before they assumed power.
President Xi in particular referred to Modi's experience in Gujarat as Chief Minister and his focus on development.
The discussions centred around all aspects of the bilateral relations, regional and international matters.
The surprise invitation for the APEC summit as part of partnership and engagement came in the context of the two leaders discussing the need for the two countries to work together in international fora like BRICS and other fora.
Today's meeting was the fourth high-level engagement between the two countries since the Modi government assumed charge six weeks ago.
First Xi's emissary Wang came to Delhi, followed by the visits of Vice President Hamid Ansari and Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh to China recently.
Xi acknowledged his visit to India in September and extended an invitation to Modi to visit China, which was accepted.
The dates will be decided by diplomatic channels, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
Asked if India has accepted the invitation for the APEC summit, Akbaruddin said November was a busy month with SAARC and G20 meetings scheduled but New Delhi considers the invitation as a significant gesture which will be given very serious consideration.
Neither the RBI nor the SEBI was interested in regulating deposits collected by jewellers like Tanishq. Now, new Rules under the Companies Act 2013, are forcing corporate jewellers to stop such scheme. Will the money now go into smaller, less reliable jewelers running partnership and proprietary firms?
Titan Company Ltd (TCL) is closing its Tanishq Golden Harvest and Swarna Nidhi gold savings schemes for new and existing depositors. Their advertisement claims to have designed a fair redemption offer, the details of which will be available with their stores. It is unlikely that depositors will get extra month worth of cash or jewellery. It is estimated that TCL will make record payments of Rs1,000 crore to Rs1,300 crore till end of August 2014. Shares in TCL fell nearly 3% on 14th July due to this announcement. PC Jewellers has also unplugged its gold savings scheme “jewels for less” and is asking its customers to get back cash or purchase jewellery of an equivalent amount.
Tanishq was running the popular Golden Harvest Jewellery savings scheme, wherein you pay in instalments for a fixed duration (11 months) and the jeweller would pay the last instalment. With this amount you can buy gold anywhere in India from any Tanishq showroom at the end of the 12-month period. The payment of the last instalment works out to be over 15% return on your scaled investment in the golden harvest scheme. There is no tax deducted and no regulatory hassles like Know Your Customer (KYC) norms.
Under Rule 3(6) of Companies (Acceptance of Deposits) Rules, 2014, no company can accept deposit, which carries a rate of interest more than what has been prescribed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for deposit accepting non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).
In other words, jewellers' gold savings schemes needs to be on par with public-deposit schemes. The Rules limit the return companies can offer to deposit holders to 12% and caps the total amount of deposits to 25% of their net-worth. In case of Tanishq, the total deposits are estimated to be 45% of the company’s net worth. It is clear that Tanishq schemes may be violating both conditions under the new Rules.
The way to comply with new Rules is to return the deposits to the public before 1 April 2015. If not, they will be penalised in accordance with the provisions of the Act. It means small or big jewellers will have to comply. But, will it cause trouble for small jewellers, especially if the size of deposits is huge when compared to its own net-worth? Have the jewellers kept the deposited money in safe instruments like bank fixed-deposits (FD) or in risky avenues? Moreover, have they really kept it aside or have they been using it for business operations, which can make the refunds to everyone virtually impossible?
Big jewellers like PC Jewellers, Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri, Gitanjali group, Gitanjali Jewels, GRT jewellers and hundreds of small jewellers have their own such gold saving schemes with varying benefits. These schemes had become widespread, with thousands of crores of rupees lying with jewellers as advances, which the government thought could pose risks and hence wanted stricter regulations to safeguard public interest.
However, the new Rules, coming under the Companies Act, covers companies. Jewellers running their stores as sole proprietorships or partnership firms may still continue with this business.
Moneylife had written in mid February 2014 about jeweller gold savings scheme coming under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) scanner. But SEBI is yet to wake up to thousands of crores invested by consumers in gold savings schemes of jewellers which can easily qualify as collective investment schemes. SEBI and RBI had replied to an Right to Information (RTI) application stating that such schemes are not regulated by them at all.
Moneylife had done a survey last year for our cover story on gold. Almost half of the respondents were aware of jewellery gold savings schemes offered by jewellers such as Tanishq, but surprisingly only 15%would invest in such schemes and it was more for ease of payment rather than for better returns or tax savings.
The new Rules may not apply to 'Gold Deposit Schemes' (GDS). A gold savings scheme is the opposite of GDS, which is offered by banks like SBI and registered NBFC. GDS from jewellers is unregulated. Under GDS, you give your gold to get a higher quantity of gold at the end of one year, or get monthly payment as well as return of your gold at end of the term. The interest rate for SBI GDS three-year deposit is 0.75%, for four and five years it is 1%. It’s not great, but it is calculated in gold terms. Jewellers offer a high rate of interest of 7.5%, but there is absolutely no safety.
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