By Vijay phanshikar
One cannot miss the special quality of Indian philanthropy that shows up in donations as large as Rs. 1,000 crores from one source to as small as Rs. 10 from a roadside vendor woman who sells wild berries from a basket to school children. In fact, those ten rupees is all she may have earned that day, but does not mind sharing all that for a good cause.
Students form prestigious educational institutions -- IITs, NITs, and IIMs -- have come together and launched an initiative called ‘Sahyog’ to aid stranded workers, homeless and migrants amid the lock-down imposed to control the spread of coronavirus. The group, which has over 700 student-volunteers, has launched a toll-free help-line where people can call for help, and the team would coordinate with NGOs to ensure the requirement if fulfilled. ... COUNTLESS thousands of good-natured persons have stood up all over the country to render help to the needy as lakhs of migrants, workers and homeless people got stuck wherever they were when the nationwide lock-down was announced almost suddenly by the Government in its effort to counter the coronavirus scourge, showcasing to the international community good samaritanism of high order, springing a sense of happy surprise in many parts of the world.
What a terrific social spectacle is this! Non-profit organisations (NPOs), non-government organisations (NGOs), volunteer-groups such as the newly-formed ‘Sahyog’, individual persons, women’s organisations, local-level residents’ groups, doctors’ organisations, school and college students, senior citizens, former soldiers, former civil servants have emerged from the otherwise placid Indian landscape to offer help to those who are stranded away from their homes or are just unable to cope with the demands of hard times. To make matters more beautiful, countless scores of celebrities and financial and social elite are coming up with donations to the Prime Minister’s Fund, offering in each case literally hundreds of crores of rupees to buttress the national effort, making many nations feel amazed at this good-heartedness. Not to be left behind is India Inc -- the world of corporates.
Thousands of crores of rupees are pouring out of corporate coffers to embellish the Government’s effort to offer all possible help wherever it is needed -- in terms of food, medicare, social support and humanitarian causes. And to the average Indians, this is nothing special, in the sense the nation has seen such large-heartedness on countless occasions in the past as well -- whenever the country was hit by any calamity of any magnitude, any seriousness. Loosening purse-strings in times of crisis and offering their own share of help appears to be a habitual, cultural conduct of Indian people, classes or masses. In India’s neighbourhood, however, jealousies and shocks are cropping up, making journalists and intellectuals and politicians ask an oft-repeated question: Why don’t we have such large-hearted philanthropists in our country?
That question will find an answer not in that country, but in India. Culture is the key, which India has nursed over centuries, in which sharing is the basic value and virtue, no matter the politically-driven cleavaging, no matter the anti-propaganda by some vested interests, no matter the pathetic attempts by some sections of the political community to abuse good values the ,larger society has nursed for centuries. Of course, good samaritans do exist in all societies, and they render whatever help they can when bad times come. Yet, one cannot miss the special quality of Indian philanthropy that shows up in donations as large as Rs. 1,000 crores from one source to as small as Rs. 10 from a roadside vendor woman who sells wild berries from a basket to school children.
In fact, those ten rupees is all she may have earned that day, but does not mind sharing all that for a good cause. This humanitarianism is special to India, a fact the world has now come to recognise as a sublime fact. That was the reason why Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi accepted most willingly Rs. 501 offered by a small man for the relief fund. This makes all the difference! The coronavirus crisis, however, has brought out this quality of sharing in a far more pronounced manner than before. For ages, the Indians have followed the upanishadic wisdom of sacrificing for sharing. But the current crisis has evoked the very right sentiment, making the national fightback a very memorable collective experience of sanity, dignity and sanctity of unity in adversity.
On many occasions since Independence, the Indian people have offered whatever they could in times of crisis -- money, material, men, blessings, good wishes, prayers, and even life for the right cause. However, this coronavirus crisis offered an altogether different kind of challenge. It caused a lot of scare in the larger society in medical, social, and economic terms. Some of the responses of the larger society were not at all appropriate, let alone scientific. They were exaggerated, loud, and even irresponsible. Yet, the overall conduct of the society for the past couple of months of the coronavirus scare has been exemplary, to say the least.
This the merit of the wisdom India has nursed over time. But the bigger merit of the current time is that India is being led from the front by sensible people who personal conduct has remained above board all along. Some vested interests did try to malign the national leadership all right. Yet, the common people believe firmly that whatever leadership the nation now has is of a very high moral quality, which has made every sacrifice people are making worth the while. The common people also believe that the current set of leaders has certain apolitical dimension, no matter they may belong to a particular political organisation. That is where the actual difference is being made and felt.