Charity – Time or Money ?

Many of my classmates are donating to charities.

At the stage of career in which we are all in, it is not a big surprise that all of us are thinking about contributions to society.

The most important thing is that we are all thinking hard about how to help the society in which we live, how to help the poor people around, and how to ensure that poor kids get an education.

In the past, I have not seen much of an action in that direction.

Not one of my friends ever approached me for helping an orphanage before 2008. I can’t figure out why, but I think that most folks were already donating in a quiet fashion without much talk or referrals. What has changed now ?

Well-to-do folks are worried about the future of the Indian society and where we are headed as a nation. We do not see the government playing a major and constructive role in the human development arena. Education systems are weak. Government invests more in defence today than on education. The social net in the country is very weak – thousands of people do not make even INR 100 (USD 2) per day.

The social consciousness, which has been lacking in the past, has now mushroomed into a big thing amongst the jet set of India. Even more than that, the normal high-level executives are feeling the criticality of doing something constructive immediately – they are feeling the pressure. It is all time now.

Yes, just donating money for a good cause is not enough any more.

We have to do more than that. Giving money for a good cause is not bad, but the bad thing in India is whether the money you give for an intended cause really does reach the intended recipients. One can see that in the government subsidies – thousands of crores of rupees (billions of dollars) are spent as food subsidies, fertilizer subsidies, oil subsidies, employment subsidies and what not. But how much really does reach the intended recipients ?

Much money is siphoned off and that is the pity of India.

While systems have to be in place for tracking the subsidies and their utilization, there is no need to wait for that.

What is most important and actually most effective, is the contribution of one’s own “important” time in the cause of good. One example is the time that one can give in educating poor children. I have been engaged in the past in an initiative which helped poor children acclimatize towards English education, and I can tell you that the effort and the result is very gratifying.

So, it has now become critical to find time, rather than just money.

Time, which is our quality time, can do much more beneficial things in society, and we should all strive to contribute our time.

It is very critical. Let us step in and help India. I strongly believe that if a poor child gets the equivalent of USD 10 per month in education funding before he or she is 10 years old, he or she can generate a lifetime earnings of USD 500,000 in India. This can be achieved.

We need to chip in, and now. Please do what you can urgently, do not wait for the perfect time.


Vijay Srinivasan
28th April 2012


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