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Saturday, 9th December 2023

No Faith in Finance?

Press Release - Release Date 2nd May 2007

Every day, billions of pounds change hands in London's square mile. This square mile is full of churches and one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Britain, St. Paul's, lies at its heart. Modern bankers walk past them in a hurry - there is no time to stop and reflect. Also in this hub of finance lies a little known church called St. Ethelburgas, which has now become a multi-faith centre of peace and reconciliation. It is a beautiful designed circular space with a garden designed using sacred geometry.

When social entrepreneur and expert on Indian culture, Dr. Atul K. Shah was developing ideas and concepts to help this unique charity, it was the location that inspired him the most. He co-ordinated a seminar on ‘Faith and Finance' with Professor Prem Sikka of Essex University and Mr. Richard Murphy of Tax Research which was held on 2nd May. "We live in a time of huge inequality between the rich and the poor, and capitalism's weakness is its lack of conscience. It seems money has run amok and is beyond the control of human beings. Our lives are increasingly ruled by money." As a Christian, Richard Murphy feels that the fair payment of taxes is our social duty and much of tax avoidance is illegal. He has appeared on Panorama, Dispatches and many other programmes to bring tax justice to Britain. It is grossly unfair that employees pay full taxes when the rich avoid most taxes by hiring clever accountants.

Dr. Atul Shah of Diverse Ethics (www.diverseethics.com) spoke from a Jain perspective, echoing C B Patel's editorial in last week's Asian Voice paper (5th May 2007), that greed is a form of violence, and ethics and integrity are critical to lasting success. In the Tattvartha Sutra, it is clearly stated that Charity is critical and "the giver gives for his own benefit, and must thank the recipient for enabling him to part with his wealth." Richness should be measured by giving-ness rather than accumulation. Atul explained the Laxmi Poojan to the audience, where businessmen come together to pray for prosperity - not to accumulate more, but so that they are ‘empowered to do more for society'. Everyone was impressed by the beautiful picture of Laxmi resting on a lotus flower.

Mr. Satish Kanabar, Director of Barclays was keen to explain the positive aspects of banking, and he has done a lot to educate his clients, staff and customers about the importance of charity and active participation in giving and supporting good causes. Mr. Anant M. P. Shah now gives almost all his time to helping various charities in Britain and abroad and finds this very fulfilling and would like to encourage more people to experience the joy of serving others who are less fortunate.

Next time you go to the City, drop in at 79 Bishopsgate or visit www.stethelburgas.org and see how faith can help finance and give meaning to our lives.

Picture Caption:
1. Dr. Atul Shah explaining Jain ethics
2. Speakers at the seminar : Dr. Atul Shah, Prof Prem Sikka and Mr. Richard Murphy
3. Participants at the seminar