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Friday, January 07, 2005

Charity not a rarity

At the wake of this tsunami disaster, I stand proud as an Indian. This is the third time that the entire country has rushed to helped the victims in an unprecedented manner. Gujarat's earthquake and Kargil were the last two disasters that India had faced. People showed magnanimity and humaneness by contributing whatever they could do in both the cases. People were not apathetic towards the disaster and the love for fellow countrymen who lost lives and property is as bright as sun. Mata Amritanandamayi, a spiritual leader who I admire had gone to become more admirable through her 100 crore donation. Well, that is indeed a spiritual organization which is expected to do service, though the scale of service offered this time is beyond imagination.

But what really moved me is the efforts by the rickshaw pullers who contributed their petty savings for the cause of tsunami relief. This reminds me of the story of a poor tamil woman who donated the only piece of land she had to the king for building a temple. If magnanimity be measured as the fraction of income spent on charity, she was the most magnanimous. A person earning $1,00,000 per year and contributing $1000 for the relief effort clearly is giving just 1/100 of his income. $1000 is great money, but the ability of the person to contribute is much higher. I am not belittling anybody's contribution, but genuinely trying appreciate those who press the gas pedal to give away a higher fraction of their income for such efforts. It is indeed difficult to part with $1000 when you are earning $10,000/yr since the fraction becomes 1/10. The rickshaw pullers in my opinion have showed the world how one can expand at the bottom of the heart to embrace the fellow men even if they are/were unseen. May be it required a disaster to bring out the warmth in everybody's hearts (God forbid).

On the other hand what Mata has shown is a similar path but using big numbers. DMK contributed 1 crore for relief and so has every other political outfit. I am sure most of these political outfits are stinking rich and are capable of contributing more. A spiritual organization has overscored foreign aid and political organizations. Let us not worry about foreign aid since it is being refused by our PM for some reasons. But the political outfits which reap money by looting after they come to power must atleast contribute their services or money and lead the way rather than show off with the little that they give away.

It seems like the spiritual organizations are always the ones which come for rescue of aggrieved people in the times of disasters. Political outfits talk high and work low.