Monday, 31 October 2011

A million-dollar dream?


What would you do if you have a million bucks?

Monday Starters - By Soo Ewe Jin

WHAT would you do if you have a million bucks? A poor government clerk from Bihar, a remote and poverty-stricken region of northern India, has become the first person to win 50 million rupees (RM3mil) on the popular Indian version of the gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Sushil Kumar's win is a classic case of life imitating art as the script is similar to that of the 2008 Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.

According to the Associated Press, Sushil said he would spend some of his prize money to prepare for India's tough civil service examination, which could lead to a secure and prestigious lifetime job.

He would also buy a new home for his wife, pay off his parents' debts, give his brothers cash to set up small businesses and build a library in Motihari so the children of his village would have access to books and knowledge.

 
Real life slumdog millionaire: Sushil (left) says thank you with clasped hands as he receives his US$1mil prize from Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan during the fifth season of the Indian version of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? television quiz in Mumbai on Oct 25. Kumar, a computer operator who earns just US$130 a month, has become the first person to win the top prize. — AFP

Everyone loves a story like this. Although people can become instant millionaires by striking the lottery or pulling the lever on a one-armed bandit at a casino, using one's talent at a tension-filled gameshow is more admirable.

And I applaud Sushil for his noble attitude in thinking of others to share in his newfound fortune. Bihar is one of the poorest states of India and its remoter areas, such as Motihari, have been largely untouched by India's phenomenal recent economic growth.



Do you know that there are now at least 39,000 millionaires in Malaysia? According to a recent report by the Credit Suisse Group, 19,000 new millionaires were created over the past 18 months alone.

Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific Wealth Report 2011 by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini, also released recently, revealed that Malaysia's rich prefer splurging on a fancy new set of wheels, luxurious yachts or private jets.

Up to 46% invested their ringgit in luxury collectibles like cars, boats and jets, the highest percentage of any country within the Asia-Pacific region.

Their counterparts down south seem less interesting and still prefer jewellery and luxury watches.

I know that the CEOs who read the business section of this newspaper may consider a million ringgit small change but to most of us, it is a very faraway goal, not something one can possibly achieve as a regular salaried worker.

But we can all dream and I was wondering to myself, what would I do if I suddenly had a million ringgit in hand? I suppose our wishes would coincide very much with our age, status, and ultimately our character.

To those who believe material pursuits equate to real happiness, a shopping spree would be fantastic.

Those who do not focus too much on material things may want to travel around the world and complete their Bucket List, which may also include going on a religious pilgrimage.

I believe that God never gives us more than we can handle, just as He never lets us go through trials and tribulations beyond our capacity to endure.

And that was when I stopped dreaming. Because I know, seriously, I will never be able to handle so much money at any one time. So I shall be content and count my blessings. I hope you will too.

Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin notes that the world's population officially hits seven billion today. No one really knows who is Citizen Seven Billion, of course, but by the time he grows up, millionaires and billionaires will probably be a dime a dozen.

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