A trillion atoms, one percent of your dollars, and please be selfish

Author: Navneet S Chugh
Founder & CEO, The Chugh Firm.
The future looks bright for the three million non-resident Indians in the U.S. If you have doubts, then look at the odds. Would you bet against a group that consists of 600,000 engineers; 50,000 doctors; 20,000 dentists; 6,000 lawyers; 5,000 pharmacists; 2,000 veterinarians; 2,000 professors; and 60,000 self employed business owners and entrepreneurs? And, remember that this group is living in a country that is the undisputed engine of the world economy and has captured 30% of the world GDP with only 5% of the world’s population.

Yes, America is great, and an average American enjoys eight times more prosperity than an average person living outside of America. The financial story of this lucky Indian group is somewhat unique in comparison. The income of the 3 million Indians in the U.S. is more than the income of 300 million people in India who are breathing at the bottom of the pyramid.

Congratulations, we have arrived. And since researchers tell us that happiness is measured by two scales – actual wealth, and how much richer we are than others, we should be very happy. So what then is the purpose of life, from here on end?

The first 99% of purpose
The first purpose of life is simple and clear. Let’s be selfish and enjoy the heck out of life. Nothing is wrong with this simple thinking. We are educated. We are smart. We are lucky. We worked, and worked very hard. We have earned it. We deserve it.
Life is a box of chocolates, says Forrest Gump. Let’s leave no chocolate unturned. A vacation house, a 12-cylinder car, a vineyard. Let’s have it all. You only live once, some people say.
Let’s not feel an ounce of guilt. Let’s relish 99% of our income or wealth.

The last one percent
If there is commonality in all religions, then it is akin to the trio my Sikh faith believes in: Do good deeds, Remember God, and Share Your Wealth.

Most religions advocate giving of 10% or so of your income. Maybe the 10% works for non-Indians; but for sure, it does not work for Indians.

Why not? Well, if your country has been ruled by foreigners for 2,300 years, then expect your DNA to have a gene code that does not trust organizations and institutions. That is what makes us Indian.

My favorite aunt always says, “If the story is over a year old, I don’t want to hear it.” Since the 2,300 years foreign rule is now a story that turned 60 years old on August 15, 2007, can we move on?

Forget the non-Indian American rule of 10%, can we start the rehabilitation into human faith with at least one percent?

As my 12-year old son, Veeraj, says, “you came from India, you lived there, and now that you can help, you should do it.”

If your gene code still screams at 1%, then ask the fella, what is the percentage of the 1% in which you have lack of trust and faith? Hope the answer is not more than 40%, because George Bush is offering you a tax break of 40% on your giving.

I can’t, my kids need it

Of course they need it, just like you did! Remember your “I came with $200 in my pocket” story.

The proudest thing in almost every affluent NRI’s life is that we are all “self made”. Yes, we beat all odds. Yet we are bent upon robbing that precious joy from the lives of our children. Why, we may ask?

Actually, why don’t we go ahead and tell our kids the truth. “Dear Beta /Beti: Mom and Dad are leaving you all of our net assets and the million dollar life insurance policy so that you will always have food on your table. We came with nothing, but we are smart, we made it. We love you, and we want you to make it, but really don’t know if you will be able to make it on your own, so we are leaving you enough so that you will never have to worry about money in your life.”

Imagine we are gone, and our kids have our wealth. What might they do with it, what are the options? Only five: spend it, lose it, live off it, give it to charity, or invest it.

The last option is enticing. They will have money to invest, and will become really wealthy! Somehow the world’s richest - Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Lakshmi Mittal - didn’t need their parents’s money.

There are two other issues in leaving kids our wealth. By the time we die, our kids are going to be over 50!

The shocking part is that we feel that our kids will need the last one percent. Almost a full majority of our kids disagree with us. Ask them.

You will need it
Forget your kids. Be really truly selfish. You will need it.

We are all coming back in some form for sure. Yes, 100% for sure. An average human being stays alive for 650,000 hours. Then, one not so fine day, the trillion atoms that is you, will pull the plug on you and you will be cremated or buried. You will be dead, but your atoms will move on.

Hindus cremate their dead because they believe that the body is made up of five elements which are earth, water, air, fire, and ether and that cremation transports these five elements to their respective sources at death.

Every single atom will find a place in this universe. In a leaf, in a Lamborghini, in lead, in a laddoo, in a lion, or in a HIV positive orphaned six year old girl named Lavanya who has a limited life left in the dreadful slums of Lucknow.

There are so many atoms in each one of us, that the odds are almost 100% that some of your lifeless atoms will end up again in a human body. 135 million babies were born in the world in 2006, out of which 26 million were born in India. There is 20% chance that the next human body, in which some of your atoms end up, will be in India.

Then, odds are 70% that you will be poor or very poor, and you will have to live on less money all your life, than what is spent on an average dog’s life in America.

Forget charity with the last one percent, because that is doing something for someone else. Let’s make an investment with that last one percent so that our own atoms can have a better future.

Where is this one percent?
There are many worthwhile charities in the U.S.A. that are focused on assisting India, like AIF and Pratham. We could outsource our charity needs to them.

The total amount given to all India-centric charities in the U.S. last year was U.S. $35 million. The net income of the three million Indians in 2006 was U.S. $120 billion, one percent of which is U.S. $1.2 billion.

Shortfall: One billion, one hundred and sixty five million dollars. Even at one percent, we have a very long way to go.

Why do we hoard? Why don’t we give? Why don’t we share? Why don’t we care about the millions in India who live not only in poverty, but absolute poverty? Why don’t we give back to the Motherland that gave us so much even when she didn’t have enough?

As I write this, my 9-year old daughter comes and sits with me and starts reading from the screen. I casually ask her, “Sabrina, should we give money to a charity to help Indians in India?” She replies, “Yes we should,” I ask her another question, “Why?” She quips without hesitation, “Because, it is the right thing to do.”
Previous  article
Next article
Write your comment now

Email    Password: 
Don't have SiliconIndia account? Sign up    Forgot your password? Reset
Reader's comments(3)
1: From: Mrs. Mary David

This mail may be a surprise to you because you did not give me the permission to do so and neither do you know me but before I tell you about myself I want you to please forgive me for sending this mail without your permission. I am writing this letter in confidence believing that if it is the will of God for you to help me and my family, God almighty will bless and reward you abundantly. I need an honest and trust worthy person like you to entrust this huge transfer project unto.

My name is Mrs. Mary David, The Branch Manager of a Financial Institution. I am a Ghanaian married with 3 kids. I am writing to solicit your assistance in the transfer of US$7,500,000.00 Dollars. This fund is the excess of what my branch in which I am the manager made as profit last year (i.e. 2010 financial year). I have already submitted an annual report for that year to my head office in Accra-Ghana as I have watched with keen interest as they will never know of this excess. I have since, placed this amount of US$7,500,000.00 Dollars on an Escrow Coded account without a beneficiary (Anonymous) to avoid trace.

As an officer of the bank, I cannot be directly connected to this money thus I am impelled to request for your assistance to receive this money into your bank account on my behalf. I agree that 40% of this money will be for you as a foreign partner, in respect to the provision of a foreign account, and 60% would be for me. I do need to stress that there are practically no risk involved in this. It's going to be a bank-to-bank transfer. All I need from you is to stand as the original depositor of this fund so that the fund can be transferred to your account.

If you accept this offer, I will appreciate your timely response to me. This is why and only reason why I contacted you, I am willing to go into partnership investment with you owing to your wealth of experience, So please if you are interested to assist on this venture kindly contact me back for a brief discussion on how to proceed.

All correspondence must be via my private E-mail ( for obvious security reasons.

Best regards,
Mrs. Mary David.
Posted by: mary lovely david - Monday 26th, September 2011
2: Its awsome,

Mr Chug,I impressed by your way of presentation of beautifull idea .But 1 question always in my mind,Is giving money to India is enough for development of Indians and India? I think India needs Efficient Leadership by efficient and fast progressive Leaders who can guide India and able to develop next generation Leaders.
Frankely speaking,India needs Applied visioanary and ambitious leaders,who can put the vision of development and humanity in every Indians eyes,Indians are Oceans of talents and energy,due to lack of proper guidelins its similar to the water which is cause of flood,but if this energetic forcefull water will get a right direction then it will become the source of energy,growth,happiness and prosperity.
My intention of this quote is take an attention of all patriotic and citizens by heart of India to do your level best wherever you are for yourself,your family,your country and for all living things.

Now,I can say that we can imagine a beautifull world ,we can say Heaven where everyone will be Kind,happy and prosperous, and beleive in peace of mind.

Jai Deo tiwari
System Engineer in Bangalore
Posted by: Jai Deo Tiwari - Friday 27th, August 2010
My Name is Tata I was impressed when i saw your profile at and will like you to email me back to my inbox so that i can send you my picture for you to know who i am.i belive we can establishe a long lasting relation ship with you.In addition,i will like you to reply me through my private e mail box (
This is because i dont know the possibilities of
remainning in forum for a long time.
Thanks,waiting to hear from you soonest.
Posted by: tata tatababy os - Friday 30th, October 2009
More articles
by Kaushal Mehta - Founder & CEO, Motif Inc..
The retail industry is witnessing an increased migration of customers from traditional brick and mortar retail to E-commerce (online retail)...more>>
by Samir Shah - CEO, Zephyr .
You probably do because you are on the phone with them! For all of you working in some technical management capacity here in Silicon Valley,...more>>
by Raj Karamchedu - Chief Operating Officer, Legend Silicon .
These days are a mixed bag for me. Of late I have been considering "doing something bigger and better," in my life, perhaps seriously though...more>>
by Madhavi Vuppalapati - CEO of Prithvi Information Solutions .
IT Services Rise of Tier II companies The Indian IT outsourcing industry is going through very exciting phase in its business life...more>>
by Bhaskar Bakthavatsalu- Country Manager, India and SAARC of Check Point Software Technologies.
Data loss occurs every day through corporate email. In fact, given the sheer number of emails an organization sends every day, data loss inc...more>>