Friday, November 14, 2008

So, how much do I owe?

From time to time, we all hear of these things. Whether those stories are apocryphal or not, there is a sense of low-octane injustice when we hear of, say, Russian surgeons (or Ukrainian chess GM’s) driving taxi-cabs in New York City. And when the in-laws will not allow certain well-educated and qualified daughters-in-laws to go to work, we feel that they are being incredibly retro. And then there are people like me and my wife. Qualified and able, but simply not working. In all of the above, a certain potential is not being realized.

In my case, I had 22 straight years of formal education. Though my dad paid for it throughout, I know that the Central government of India, various state governments and Universities heavily subsidized my schooling. It was the society as a whole, ‘investing’ in me. Like all investors, society also hopes for a good return on its investment. While my working for a corporation for 12 years was no public service, I did play a functional part, and I paid my taxes.

The underlying basic question that I keep asking myself, that Rupal asked me a few days ago (verbatim): Is it okay for us not to be productive to society?

My obligations still remain, I know. My difficultly is in fulfilling those obligations in ways that seem interesting to me.

1 comment:

Goutham said...


Great question!!

However, I claim that the answer is not as straightforward as the question. "As much as you can" is what I think the answer is.

I am with you on your dilemma (on how to make this payback interesting as well...)