During our ill-fated, and shamelessly cloned Indo-Pak friendship effort, Mark B. Jacobs once mentioned that Vinoba Bhave had presided over the largest peaceful transfer of wealth in human history. I recently estimated that he was responsible for a wealth transfer of between $111 – $871 billion dollars, making Vinoba the world’s most successful fundraiser (if it could be called that). The calculation goes as follows:
Thus, in modern terms, Vinoba-ji’s 5 million acres might be worth:
5M acres = 217.8B square feet
217.8B square feet * $4 / sq. ft = $871 billion
5M acres * $44.4K / acre = $222 billion
5M acres * $88.8K / acre = $444 billion
Even if we assume half the land is completely useless, that still places the value of his project at somewhere between $111 B and $435 B. To put this value in perspective, the largest foundation in the world today is the Gates Foundation, whose current endowment is about $34 B. In fact, the entire foundation world presently has $290 B.
While we know that the Gates, Carnegies and Rockefellers of the world are ultra-affluent, we struggle to admit that behind Vinoba’s apparent pennilessness lay an inexhaustible fortune of wealth that we don’t even know how to measure.
And that should give Ben Bernanke an existential crisis!