Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, that is true. Today those who are wealthy are given a lot of respect everywhere, whereas the poor and middle class people do not get that much respect and consideration. Many times it seems that people stick to the 'Might is Right' principle when they deal with others. Many countries in the world are going through the same situation. Our country is so large and the greatest democracy in the world, yet it does not get proper recognition in the International community. Why is this so? It is because they think of India as a poor and third-world country. So there is a disparity due to wealth everywhere.
There are two ways to eliminate this:
1. Awaken the self-confidence of the poor and marginalized sections of the society. The poor people should become self-reliant and be able to make a living for themselves
2. Kindle sympathy and compassion in the hearts of the rich people
We cannot make everyone completely equal in society so that there are no more poor or rich people at all. You know, the Communist nations of the world have experimented with that social model for 40 years. They found that that rich became poor and the poor remained poor. So that approach did not help in anyway. The whole experiment failed. China also tried to implement this approach but failed. A small island like Taiwan became so rich and prosperous, whereas China remained poor and was lagging behind. But soon after that China completely turned its foreign and economic policy around. It started giving importance to foreign trade, commerce and skill development of its people. This greatly helped the Chinese people become self-reliant, skillful and be able to earn money for themselves and their families.
So do not think that the poor people are always the exploited ones in society. Also, the rich people are not always the ones who exploit others for their gains. This is just a wrong notion that some people spread in the minds of others. They try to preach that the rich people are the ones who are dishonest and exploit the poor. All rich people do not have the need to be dishonest. It is a very wrong concept. By spreading such false notions, they create a sense of conflict and ill-will between the rich and the poor.
Such misleading people will tell others, “If so and so person is rich, take it for granted he must be exploiting others. He must be using dishonest means to earn money”.
They will say things like, “Oh! See, that person is travelling by his own car while you are travelling by the public bus. He surely will exploit common folk like you”, or they will say, “See! He is studying in such a good school or medical college, while you are not able to. So you will be surely exploited by rich people like him”.
This mindset is very dangerous. A person moves ahead in life as per his capabilities and the resources available to him.
If someone is able to be rich while being in the path of honesty, then he should have a sense of gratitude and contentment for that. Such a person can help other people also to become rich and can provide employment and earning opportunities to many others.
What is the reason that there is not one good industry or industrialist in Kerala today? It is this very reason. People have been told that if someone is a factory owner or a businessman, he will surely exploit others for his own selfish gains. The same is happening in West Bengal also. The government there is getting influenced in the same manner and framing laws that are making it difficult for people to set up new businesses and earn their livelihood. If someone cannot setup their own business, then how will he provide employment to others? So this whole concept that 'A rich person is one who exploits, a poor person is always the one who gets exploited' is wrong. People become poor because of their bad habits and their laziness.
For example, if there are 10 children studying in the same school, then why does it happen that a few really excel ahead in life while some of them lag behind and even drop out? Is this someone else’s doing? You know, a laborer in a city actually earns roughly the same amount that a white collar worker earns in the city after a day’s work. The salary that a clerk gets is approximately the same that the laborer gets. In some places it could be more also. But usually we see that one excels while the other sinks deeper in poverty. Why does this happen? It is because of alcohol. The poor person spends 60% of what he earns in drinking alcohol. Then how can one expect to eradicate poverty in this manner? This is a crime one does onto himself.
Alcohol has become the biggest problem in our country today. The sale of alcohol has increased by nearly three to four times than what it used to be in the earlier years. This is ruining the health and also not letting the poor and marginalized people rise above their poverty.