Is Charity Dying in India?


Three incidents in quick succession make me feel that charity is dying in India.

In February 2009, Jeevan Blood Bank and Research Centre, a Chennai based not-for-profit established the first Public Cord Blood Bank to help children with blood cancers and Thalassemia. The vision is to make available matching stem cells from donated umbilical cord blood to these children either free or at affordable cost.

For this project which will benefit children across India and children of Indian origin across the world, Jeevan needs 90 crores of rupees over three years to collect, process, test and store 30,000 cord blood donations. The only silver lining in fund mobilisation is the approval of 35 AC status to donations up to 47 crores of rupees – meaning 100% tax exemption to donations. Donations in US and UK through www.giveindia.org are eligible for tax exemptions.

In this background let us look at the events:

1. Letters to over 500 Chairmen and CEOs of Indian companies has not elicited any response – except two companies contributing to 30,000 rupees each! I suspect (al)most all of them did not even reach the their table. All that was needed was 30,000 donations of 30,000 rupees each across India – I am sure organsiations like CII can facilitate this as “CSR” activity of the member companies!

2. During a recent dinner meeting one of my good friends said his company has a significanT tax liabIlity this year because of extremely good business – money came from sale of consumables to blood bank industry across India. I was told that his CA had advised him either to pay the tax and retain the money or share it with employees and write off as business expense instead of “donating”. His reason – these “loyal” employees will bring in more money to the company next year!

3. Recent suggestions of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India to change the policies relating to tax exemptions to donations, if approved, will place the final nail on the coffin of charity.

We at Jeevan are debating about the options available to ensure availability of matching stem cells to these children while the country is watching IPL3.

We are born optimists – like every team and owners of IPL!!!!

Till next time….

Srinivasan

3 thoughts on “Is Charity Dying in India?

  1. Dear Doctor,
    Do not get discouraged. All of us try to do what we believe in sincerely. It may or may not strike a chord in others. That is no reason to abandon what we feel and know is good.

    Corporate donations under CSR seem to work ONLY when the CEO (or maybe his wife!) are also sympathetic to the issue. The only way will be the admittedly very difficult method of getting contacts/links to these people and present the case indivudually.

    Wishing you all the best.

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  2. Well, Charity is still alive .. but in unexpected quarters

    A message I received today deserves to be reproduced:

    Exact Narration by Suvendu Roy of Titan Industries, who shares his inspirational encounter with a rickshaw driver in Mumbai:

    Last Sunday, my wife, kid, and I had to travel to Andheri from Bandra.
    When I waved at a passing auto rickshaw, little did I expect that this ride would be any different….

    As we set off, my eyes fell on a few magazines (kept in an aircraft style pouch) behind the driver’s back rest.

    I looked in front and there was a small TV. The driver had put on the Doordarshan channel.

    My wife and I looked at each other with disbelief and amusement. In front of me was a small first-aid box with cotton, dettol and some medicines.
    This was enough for me to realise that I was in a special vehicle.
    Then I looked round again, and discovered more – there was a radio, fire extinguisher, wall clock, calendar, and pictures and symbols of all faiths
    – from Islam and Christianity to Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism..
    There were also pictures of the heroes of 26/11- Kamte, Salaskar, Karkare and Unnikrishnan.
    I realised that not only my vehicle, but also my driver was special.

    I started chatting with him and the initial sense of ridicule and disbelief gradually diminished.

    I gathered that he had been driving an auto rickshaw for the past 8-9 years; he had lost his job when his employer’s plastic company was shut down.
    He had two school-going children, and he drove from 8 in the morning till 10 at night.

    No break unless he was unwell. “Sahab, ghar mein baith ke T.V dekh kar kya faida? Do paisa income karega toh future mein kaam aayega.”

    We realised that we had come across a man who represents Mumbai – the spirit of work, the spirit of travel and the spirit of excelling in life.

    I asked him whether he does anything else as I figured that he did not have too much spare time.He said that he goes to an old age home for women in Andheri once a week or whenever he has some extra income, where he donates tooth brushes, toothpastes, soap, hair oil, and other items of daily use.

    He pointed out to a painted message below the meter that read: “25 per cent discount on metered fare for the handicapped.Free rides for blind passengers up to Rs. 50.

    My wife and I were struck with awe. The man was a HERO!

    A hero who deserves all our respect!!!

    Our journey came to an end;

    45 minutes of a lesson in humility, selflessness, and of a hero-worshipping Mumbai, my temporary home.

    We disembarked, and all I could do was to pay him a tip that would hardly cover a free ride for a blind man.

    —END—-

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