Over the last few weeks, there has been quite a stir in the Indian media about the “Art of Giving” in terms of corporate social responsibility. All the buzz started because of Azim Premji’s philanthropic activities worth $ 4.1 billion!!
The general view amongst the Indian masses is the lack of any visible development of the economically challenged sections of the society, despite the phenomenal accomplishments of the Corporate India. Over the last two decades, Indian companies have gone international and are considered to be a force to reckon with, by the rivals abroad.
Surprisingly though, the general public has not seen that scale of development in their economic status. People have started questioning the responsibility of the Corporate India towards the social order and the not-so-privileged sections of the country. And, many think that it might be payback time. But a counter view suggests that these companies are not bound in any way to give back to the society, in legality. After all, philanthropy and social service is a choice and cannot be legally enforced.
And somewhere we have to accept that Indian society is not used to giving to the economically backward sections of the society. Our history books do refer to “bhiksha” or donations given to the brahmins (priests); but not the poor and the needy of the population. We never had the custom of community service for the poor.
For us, it had always been casteism till last few decades. Still continues to be, in some regions!! And the lower caste people were generally, the poorer of the lot and used to be neglected and barred from the society during occasions, while all the donations were pocketed by the higher castes. And from there started the custom of the rich becoming richer, and the poor becoming poorer.
I still remember two years back when I was traveling by Indian Railways, I met 3 European journalists, working for Reuters, on an India tour. Like curious tourists, they were asking me all sorts of questions about Indian culture. They asked me “Why do rich people in India do not help the poor?”. Needless to say I was embarrassed, and had no answer for that.
At a time, when we are trying to paint a broad and advanced picture of India to the world we are ignoring those sections of the society without whom, an all round development is going to remain a distant dream. The development and prosperity in a society is a collective occurrence and cannot be fulfilled by the assets of a few individuals.
Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can. – John Wesley