Dear readers we are living in a world where there is extensive amount of coverage been given to events related to crime in both the print & electronic media. Everyday we hear of murders, raps, thefts, cases of sexual harassment, etc. And I often wonder where are we heading to? Is this the planet on which our next generation will cherish life. Where do we all draw inspirations from when we all know that the most powerful medium of information which is the media is most of the times full of negative reports? In this open letter my endeavor would be to highlight a few personal experiences which have inspired me to give back to the society a proportion of what I have taken from it.
My effort here is to site examples of humble human beings who have made a big difference to the society with their enormous contributions in terms of setting up social organizations, giving financial and material aid to NGO’s and contributing in terms of their time and labor.
Let me begin by taking an incite into the life of Col. NS Nyayapathi , a retired army officer who started the Care India medical society on 10th of February 1992. This voluntary organization works for prevention & early detection of cancer and also focuses on providing pain relief and terminal care to the victims of cancer who are in the last stages of the disease. What motivated this man to prematurely retire from the cozy comforts of the army life to a difficult and an absolutely new territory of starting & running an NGO was the death of his mother in the year 1989 due to the same illness. Ever since the year 1992 Col. Nyayapathi has been seaizelessly working to promote this cause. From a small five hundred square feet rented office & a staff of three Care India has grown to two centers and a staff of around 15 members in the last 12 years. In the history of Care India’s 12 years existence Col. Nyayapathi’s tireless efforts have been able to provide pain relief and palliative care to 1349 patient’s at his project Satseva since its inception on 1st Dec 1994. Care India has benefited 74246 individuals through its cancer education programs and has conducted 126 early detection camps there by benefiting 8499 people. On an average 40 women patients are being daily provided with free prenatal & antenatal care with medicines at project matruseva (A Care India initiative).
The second individual who is the source of strength and inspiration to me is a modest women with an absolute low profile but a high capacity to give. She is Mrs.Jhumkoobai Surajmal Shanghvi. With love & gratitude we all call her Matajee and so do the patient’s of satseva & matruseva. It was only because of her generous donation of a prime property at Bhavani Peth, Pune that the Care India Medical Society has been able to set up these two centers. The motivation for her donation was similar to that of Col. Nyayapathi, her personal tragedy, the death of her husband due to cancer.
25th April 1999 was the day on which I meet Mr. Ramesh Gulani who I call guru for the admiration I have of his mission to provide quality education to the rural blind girls. To me Mr.Gulani sightless, by birth is a great visionary. Having worked for 27 years as a flutiest on the All India Radio Pune, Gulani has the distinction of setting up the Jagriti school for blind girls located at Alandi Pune, the only school in Maharashtra which focuses on educating the rural blind girls with flexibility of the minimum age for admissions. He started this school under the banner of the National Federation of the blind Maharashtra (NFBM) in the year 1989 in a small village called Sonapur near Pansheth. His effort began with 12 students and a small two room apartment in a village which was almost cut off from the urban main stream. In the year 1990, this school was shifted to Alandi and today has grown into an institution which provides free lodging, boarding & educational facilities to a 118 blind girl children. It is the only school in Maharashtra which is making a small beginning in trying to provide computer literacy to the students of standard 5th to 10th with the help of a state of the art Computer lab donated by the Rotary Club of Pune Airport.
Academically speaking The NFBM Jagriti school for blind girls has a track record of producing 2 to 3 distinction holders from the year 2000 in the standard 10th S.S.C examinations. Ever since its inception the school has managed a 100 per cent success rate in the S.S.C. board examinations. A feet all of us can be proud of. All these achievements have been possible due to the single minded dedication of the Musician with a Mission Ramesh Gulani & his vision to transform the visually challenged into self dependent & dignified human beings.
The people we have spoken about so far have had an affinity to the causes they promote due to their personal experiences. What inspires me even more is the contribution of today’s youngsters. 29th Nov. 2003 was one of the most joys days of my life as that was the day on which 15 young voluntaries from a well known I.T. firm, EDS PLM solutions visited the Jagriti school for Blind girls Alandi and celebrated the volunteers day. It was a day of excitement & enjoyment for the hundred beneficiaries of the Jagriti school where they could exhibit their talents of singing, dancing, acting, quizzing & mimicry to 15 of their friends who came to spend their time with the girls. I will never forget the joy of those children who felt that they also belong to people who were ready to pore their love & affection on to them. Such deeds leave a positive mark on my memory & re affirm my conviction that its only by caring & sharing that we can change our living Universe.
One fine example of citizen social responsibility that is the capacity of individuals to make a mighty contribution with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of life of the deserving is personified by the Pune based low profile social performer Mrs. Chaya Landge. A science graduate & an MBA, Mrs. Landge is a house wife with a difference. She has invested the last 15 years of her life to the cause of helping visually challenged students. She is probably Pune’s most popular reader in the visually challenged community. She has also devoted herself to the goal of improving the carrier prospects for the students who benefit from her cause oriented commitment. Madam Landge has change the course of life of about 75 students in her 15 years of heart headed devotion.
When we think of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) the names of companies such as Laser Soft a Chennai based software development company, Associated capsules, NTPC & BPCL come to mind. All these companies have made a conscious effort to employee differently able persons. Finally I wish to begin the summation with the following illustration: The sales manger of U.S. based National Cash Register Company (NCR) opened one of his talks to his men in this fashion. Only three sentences in this introduction: and they are all easy to listen to, they all have vigor and drive:
You men who get the orders are the chaps who are supposed to keep the smoke coming out of the factory chimney. The volume of smoke emitted from our chimney during the past two summer months hasn’t been large enough to darken the landscape to any great extent. Now that the dog days are over and the business revival season has began, we are addressing to you a short, sharp request on this subject: We want more smoke.
I firmly believe that we too need more smoke and fire, passion & desire, hope & the capacity to dream mighty big & higher. In our collective quest to improve the quality of life on planet earth we must try to answer the question what I can do to bring about change? How can I make a difference ? and what is it that I need to do in my individual capacity to make things better?
Organizations also must respond to their responsibilities by formulating philanthropy policies and implementable action plans. Corporate can serve society better by assigning an executive to discharge social responsibility. How about creating a brand new designation that of the Chief responsibility officer (CRO)? I am confident of the fact that if 1.25 billion Indians decide to make a difference through positive contribution our country will emerge as a socially enlightened & enriched super power. So let us all join forces to start a movement with a goal of realizing development through caring & sharing. In all modesty may I suggest that we call this movement the Art of Giving.
The author is project director NFBM Jagriti school for blind girls Alandi Pune & cofounder Intellectual Asset Management.