June 03, 2004

Can Capitalism Be Compassionate?

Recently there has been a national discussion in India about how to create a more vibrant and equitable economy. The election that threw out Atal Bihari Vajpayee was largely seen as the rural voters striking back at the politicians that favored the urban voters and especially the expanding high tech industry. So the big question now is how can the wealth be spread across a broader cross-section of Indians and how India build a middle class that can be the stable foundation for a viable democracy.

One Indian entrepreneur, Narayan Murthy, founder of global software giant Infosys, believes that India needs to harness capitalism with a real face of compassion in order to create a positive future for the country.

"We believe that if India has to solve its problem of poverty, we have to embrace capitalism, ensure that jobs are created, and make sure that market-driven policies are accepted," he said.

"However, to do that, the people who are the evangelists of capitalism, must conduct themselves in a manner that will appeal to the masses.

"People must be able to relate to them easily. They must lead a normal life, a simple life, and people must be able to say, 'look, if these jokers can do it, we can do it better'."

When Murthy talks about compassionate capitalism, he backs up his words with action that shows he really means what he says. Although he is a very successful businessman, he voluntarily limits his own salary to under $50,000 per year and donates a good proportion of his company's profits to charity.

Will Murthy be able to inspire other Indian entrepreneurs to follow his example? If so, then perhaps we will also see how effective an ethical capitalism can be in creating wealth and a viable society.

Posted by Mary at June 3, 2004 04:17 AM | Economy | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Capitalism, it all depends on how you define it. The current Republican defintion is the same as Mussollini's defintion of fascism, a few large corporations running the show. Thats not unlike the other F word feudalism. The progressives idea of Capitalism is probably Eutopian, that is unrealistic; it dosen't take into account greed, a natural thing.
Narayan Murthy is an anamoly.

Posted by: Ron In Portland at June 3, 2004 06:47 AM

If a middle class is essential for a viable democracy, does that mean we are headed down the tubes? Because the rape of the middle class and the squashing of the poor seems to be the current tax-cut agenda item.


Posted by: Scorpio at June 3, 2004 05:58 PM

Bush touts himself as a "compasssionate conservative," but nowhere in his actions is a sense of compassion. Maybe capitalism can be compassionate and somewhat equalizing, but we'll never know under Bush. Facism, not democracy and capitalism, is his legacy for the United States.

Posted by: sophie at June 8, 2004 04:03 PM