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As mango people (aam aadmi), we see so many instances of our elected “leaders” taking full advantage of their entitlements that it comes as a huge surprise to note that a head of state could actually lives in less than lavish circumstances. That too voluntarily.
This incredible person, who would have been completely at home in an edition of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, is actually the 77-year-old president of Uruguay, Jose Mugica.
This man has declined the use of the presidential mansion and has chosen to continue to reside in his old farmhouse, off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo, in which he used to live with his wife. A proud farmer, Mugica continues to earn his living growing flowers on his patch of land. His most valuable possessions include his ancient 1987-born Volkswagen Beetle and a three-legged dog called Manuela.
The house itself is quite ordinary. The laundry is strung up on a clothesline outside the house. And the water that the family uses has to be drawn from a well in the weed-infested yard.
The only indication you get about the old farmhouse being the residence of a head of state is the presence of two police officers who keep guard outside.
What has catapulted this humble Uruguayan President to the notice of mango people everywhere is that the scale of his life is so unpretentious that he gets by with only 10 percent of the salary he earns as president. The remaining 90 percent, which amounts to about $12,000 (or £7,500) is given away to charity.
“I may appear to be an eccentric old man... But this is a free choice,” he said to a reporter. “I can live well with what I have.” He added, “This is a matter of freedom. If you don't have many possessions then you don't need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself.”
If only political leaders all over the world, and especially those in India, tried to learn something from him.