Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Anonymous Givers

We hope a wave will sweep across India from the 26th of Sept., to the 2nd of Oct., this year. This wave, we hope, will cut across all barriers and will be truly inclusive as we celebrate the Joy of Giving. This festival takes its inspiration from the ordinary Indian, who has a basic generosity of spirit as is witnessed when we come out in large numbers to help during flood, earthquake, accident or other unfortunate occurences. All those who help at such times fade away into obscurity after having done their bit.

This post is a tribute to some of these anonymous Indians, who have made it their life's mission to share their time, money, skills or other resources to spread some light, hope and joy in the lives of others.

These are the people like AnandKumar and Abhayanand, a Mathematician and DIG of police, who together run the Ramanujan school of mathematics in Bihar, that ensures that the poorest aspirants of IIT are given free coaching every year. There is Muhammed Sharif who ensures that unclaimed bodies are given a decent burial. There is Nur, who releases caged birds in memory of his son who was swept away in a tidal wave. Vandana the founder member of The Banyan, picked up a mentally ill destitute woman off the streets and went on to build up a home for the mentally ill destitute. There is also Vinod Sreedhar, who goes about performing Random Acts of Kindness, one of which is to smile at strangers and pass on some happiness, by asking a rickshaw driver to share a cup of tea with him, after ferrying him.

There are also groups of individuals coming together for a cause. The members of the Rohan Nilay society in Aundh, Pune, for eg. raised a sum of 1.2 lakhs in year by selling their newspapers. This money has been earmarked for the education of the needy.

Singhvi, a CA, in Mumbai has quit his professional practice and made it his mission to green the Yeeor Hills near Thane. Under the Hariyali Project, he spends his own money to buy and nurture saplings. In order that the current generation understands the importance of nurturing the greenery we have, he invites school children each year to plant the saplings during the monsoon.

It is because of our basic nature to help that the response to JGW was widespread. Along with various initiatives underaken by NGOs and corporates to raise funds during the week, what was heartening was that the individual citizen came out in large numbers to ensure his/ her participation in various ways: by volunteering time, skills, money. The spirit of giving seemed to have permeated into the soul of every individual. There was no cynicism here, no expectations and no rules, only humility and joy.