Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Art of Giving

On Sunday, when I saw Nitish Kumar's appeal to contribute towards Bihar flood victims I thought, haan bhejna chahiye.

But four days later I had done nothing. Cutting a cheque and mailing it required some initiative on my part. And I just did not follow through.

SO this morning when I checked my ICICI bank account online I was happy to see a quick and easy way to contribute. Just before you log in they have created a page which allows you to send money towards Bihar flood victims through internet banking. Which as you know takes less than a minute to complete.

So I did make my small contribution.
And I know that many others, like me, will 'follow through'.

The money contributed will be handled by GiveIndia, so I know it will be wisely spent. Incidentally, GiveIndia will also deliver at your doorstep the tax exemption certificate under Section 80G (not very important to me but could be for others!).

GiveIndia's mission is to induct people like you and me into a culture of 'giving'. But it's also about coming up with ideas like this one, which make it easier for us to actually do it. Understanding the 'end user', as they say.

And well, I could go on and on about GiveIndia but you can read the whole story in my book 'Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish' which will be out on September 15 in bookstores across India. Of the 25 stories in the book, GiveIndia is one of my personal favourites.

Meanwhile I cannot help wondering whether 'giving' means I actually care. Which is the ultimate objective of GiveIndia, to engage us, to shake us out of the inertia of 'me, myself and I'.

The floods in Bihar are a colossal human tragedy but they have failed to move India in the manner of the Gujarat earthquake, or the tsunami.

I think somewhere in the back of our minds there is the thought:"Bihar? Deserves it". Jaata hai to jaaye, good riddance.

Acknowledging the feeling is the first step towards releasing it. Giving money I hope is the first step in the long journey towards making us more 'giving' - in so many other ways.

And not just when there are floods and earthquakes.

As Venkat puts it in Stay Hungry Stay Foolish:" People don't realise that India is a daily living disaster. Diarrhoea is a bigger disaster than earthquake, tsunami, cyclone - all of them put together..."

Actually it's all too overwhelming, which is why most of us look away in the first place!

But more of us are accepting that each one can make a difference.
The starting point - for any change - is believing that in the first place.


  1. We are going to contribute one day's salary for Bihar flood victims .. I also contributed through ICICI bank page that u mentioned about ..

    Ofcourse we cannot replace their loss but perhaps we can lessen their griefs and sufferings by contributing money ..

  2. Great post!!! And I think there also ahould be a compulsory CSR for corporations operating in the country. For eg. HLL(or HUL as its called now) is a huge stakeholder in Bihar market with their brands like Lifebuoy,Wheel etc. Where are they when Bihar is drowning??

  3. Anonymous2:32 PM

    Salman Khan is also helping the flood victims. Did you know?

  4. Great Post.

    I shared almost all of your expressions when I saw that ICICI initiative. A very very very useful initiative. Am sure much more people would have contributed, just because it was so easy.

    Also about calamity in Bihar. Rather than people thinking 'Biharis deserve it'...people in other part of India thinks, does it really matter that 'Illiterate, poor Biharis are dying'...
    Its all about perception..which is hard to change.

  5. Give India has tied up with my company (Crisil) wherein employees can fill up a form and an amount of their choice (minimun Rs.100) will be deducted from their monthly salary. The presentation given by their representative has convinced most of us. I think it is a better way of approaching potential givers rather than send emails or dor - to - door selesmen type people (like CRY does)

  6. "Bihar? Deserves it". Jaata hai to jaaye, good riddance.

    Isnt that somewhat exaggerated? I dont think this way!?? My heart bleds the same for any sad news whether it is from Bihar / J&K / Bangalore / Bombay ... or even outside India.

    I mean I was pissed off seeing Raj Thakre's kartoots being done in Maharashtra ... but it looks like we all have a Raj Thakre inside us.

    This is bad.

  7. Good Post...I must say it is a great innovation on the part of ICICI to have incorporated the page on the website...
    I am sure it would have motivated quite a lot of people to donate for a noble cause.


  8. Good post.

    A link to/how you can buy the book would've been useful.

    2 things I'd like to point out:

    The link to the NDTV page is broken. There is an extra 'http://' in the link.

    The NDTV article mentions 'Belgum' as a town in Maharashtra. Belgaum is a district in Karnataka. Hope you can get this rectified.


  9. "Bihar? Deserves it". Jaata hai to jaaye, good riddance."

    Oh my God! That's how you and other people think? Don't you realize that they are humans and they are your countrymen (For that matter, how do they differ even if they are from any other country?) ? They are just like you and me: people with aspirations, hopes and dreams. How can such a thought even cross your mind? It's such a shame that anyone can think like this for his fellow human beings. Absolute shame.

  10. Am glad that you made the payment, but unless such thoughts don't leave your mind, don't ever think that you've done good to anyone. If you think "giving money is the first step to releasing such thoughts" then I honestly believe you are wrong. It should be the last step, before that the fear for people's lives, compassion for anyone regardless of origin, caste, color, religion should be cultivated.

  11. Does not matter whether it is Bihar or Bhayander! Everyone should do their bit in whatever they can. And compulsory CSR can only come from within not as a rule/law. However all said & done, besides the immediate contribution bit; there should be an ongoing initiative to ensure there is no repeat & this is where we lack the initiative to continue.

  12. well..I too found the ICICI bank initiative a good one...and contributed also..

    Also,a sentence as""Bihar? Deserves it". Jaata hai to jaaye, good riddance" isn't what expected from a magazine which aspires to catch the pulse of nation.
    Any reasons as to why you have such feelings?If any state of India goes down,remember a part of India also suffers..

  13. Bihar deserves it!!. that's a little callous even thinking about it..ala sharon stone wen he made that stupid remark about china earthquake..truth is we are used to floods and draughts in Indian hinterland.. just like crops seasons, there is draught season followed by monsoon and then the floods season. Every year ppl die of heat stokes and extreme "sheet lahar". Just when some threshold of gravity of any incident crosses a certian limit our conscience is raised ki haan kuch karna chahiye..
    I recently shifted to mumbai and for the first few days i just could not comprehend why people are sleeping on roads and the govt. is busy deciding whether cheerleaders shd be on in IPL or not. Join an NGO dont just give money.. work with ppl talk with the poor..sit with them..ur money aint gonna make much difference to their lives anyway.

  14. Remember, India is to the world what Bihar is to India.

    It's your choice.

  15. Hi Rashmi,

    1) Many companies are making the process of "giving" easier - they have tied up with NGO's and you have the option of specifying the amount you wish to donate. It is deducted from your salary, and the receipt is mailed to your office desk. Believe me - this results in a lot more people donating!

    2)"Bihar? Deserves it". Jaata hai to jaaye, good riddance.

    Absolutely not! I vehemently deny that such a thought occurs - even at the back of my mind. I have heard people foster similar feelings after hearing about blasts in Pakistan. Bihar or Pakistan - the common man does not deserve to suffer.

    Of course - had it been certain politicians/underworld "hastiyaan"/goons playing divisive politics - who had been at the receiving end of this misery - then maybe I would have thought thay deserve it.

    3) I absolutely agree with mustang's comment above - each and every word of it!

  16. having stayed in bihar ( well ranchi is now in jharkhand but for me its still bihar ) all my childhood ... it really pains me to see the general callous perception people have about bihar & biharis in general ... one laloo dosent a state make ...

    lets do anything we can to alleviate the suffering folks there are going through ...

  17. Anonymous9:22 PM

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  18. NIce you contributed.
    Now i'll do the same.

  19. Anonymous10:54 PM

    on a different note, what makes u think icici will pass on the entire contributions without taking their cut (service charge ?? !!) -do a google search to understand how innovative this bank is when it comes to looting customers !!

  20. You'll be happy to know that ICICI Bank is not retaining anything from the donations received; they will be passing on the entire amount to GiveIndia.

    In case you don't bank with ICICI and still want to make a secure online donation, you can visit

    to donate directly to a NGO that is working for the flood affected.

    Donors will get their receipts instantly and Indian/US/UK taxpayers will get tax benefits.

  21. hey got your book already...

  22. I am not against any Bihari or any other state person. But as per the research done by World Bank the the governments across african continent (barring few) have become so reliant on external aids that they have actually stopped promoting or teaching their people how to make living by agriculture. As per research they are not outputting the products which they can. This is due to "Mea Culpa" feeling by westerners when they see those pictures of hungry mal-nutritioned african kid. They donate, donate and donate. In the end the old saying about giving a fish and telling how to fish is true.

    In context of Bihar or any other state I dont understand why dont people come out on street all year long and protest and demand that they be showed what is happening with their money! What the govt. is going. I am only afraid that it should not become a habit that in name of humanity and indian-ness we are asked to cover up the losses and corruption of politicians!

    I know that people would say this is not the time to ask these, but then when is the time? During normal time people are too busy with their daily lives!!! And please dont tell me that these are innocent villagers who are getting affected, I mean, are you saying that villagers are not capable enough to take care of themselves? They are also the part of people who think taking free electricity is their birth right! They want maximum support prices for their goods! In the end they are the ones who has to take care of themselves.

  23. I think somewhere in the back of our minds there is the thought:"Bihar? Deserves it". Jaata hai to jaaye, good riddance

    Rashmi... All the good words (though few)became meaningless when you expressed your own thoughts above and tried to generalise it.

    Some may say this is a good post but honestly i felt you used this post to describe more about ICICI Bank and Give India rather than motivating people to come up with helping hands for the cause in whatever way it can be possible.

    I am not blaming you. Actually when someone feels herself too educated and too intelligent, generally they end up making such statements!

    I would be least bothered even if you remove my comments because my purpose is to communicate to you what i felt after reading this post!

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  26. madam,really after a very lng time time i got to see such a candid player of thoughts.Apart from that got very captivated by the book.THANKS
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