Sunday, August 5, 2012

Social Purpose and We

I see so many of us turning slaves to our monotonous daily routines... that social service often becomes a source of nourishment to our deprived self-esteem. It is like getting back to our roots. There is nothing more opportunist in such initiatives than to satisfy ones spiritual urge for philanthropy at a human level... and for patriotism at a citizenship level. This longing for social contribution is so common among middle-class Indians these days...because it brings a higher purpose to our life, makes our existence much worthier.

Kishor Pawar of Combatants Manpower Consultants, Boisar, Maharashtra

Recently a fellow networker of mine, Kishor Pawar was consumed by an enthusiastic motive to do something good for the underprivileged society. Kishor is an HR consultant and heads the firm, Combatants Manpower Consultants at Boisar. This concept to help the tribal community of Maharashtra was born out of his close association with one of the legends of Adivasi Art revival. Within his radius, Kishor Pawar identified that the tribal communities in our villages were left without an assured means of daily income in the absence of infrastructural progress at their place... and that he could offer some respite to the situation through his influence in the HR industry.

He came up with an ingenious idea. A few weeks back, he shot an email to his social network asking if we could lead him to anyone who'd train the tribals in construction masonry.   Kishor envisioned that if these people were technically trained, they could land up masonry jobs in nearby cities. This would not only elevate the illiterate tribals from their current status as raw labour to that of qualified masons... but would also ensure them a stable monthly income.

Kishor’s idea was ambitious and applause-worthy, especially since he also took the next steps to execute his plan. He approached the corporate sector to absorb these tribal men into their construction workforce after training them appropriately. His plans went rejected. They thought Kishor was a labour contractor seeking a concealed entry into their domain. It is natural for companies to analyze thus.

What’s more unfortunate though, is that the tribal people too thought likewise. More than respecting the good fortunes that would come their way through Kishor’s initiative, they were more concerned about whether and how much Kishor was earning out of it. Our good man was hurt, felt humiliated and the last that I know, was contemplating to leave the task of social service to more mechanical souls.

And this attitude is not restricted to the Adivasis alone. With surprising frequency, I come across similar examples of moral self-depreciation in the world around.  When you go to help someone, that person is ALWAYS more concerned with how You are benefiting from your act of nobility. We are in all probability a society of beggars who want all goodness to come to us as alms, not mutual benefit. Perhaps the knowledge that our Samaritan has already obtained some value for his deeds relieves us of the obligation to return his goodness in future. Are we so badly deprived of positivity?

Say, for example that if Kishor had indeed aspired to become a labour contractor – He didn’t - but let’s only assume so for a moment! Would that in any way have changed the fact that the Adivasis would have nevertheless got continuous assured earnings through his venture? In a situation where they are practically starving, wouldn’t a company taking charge of them be much more providential than no source of income at all for generations? I wonder what possible circumstances could make such people happy.... that their benefactor is reaping a loss by helping them? Perhaps that explains why they’re down in the dumps. A person is where he is, for a reason.

Then there’s another example of Arvind Kejriwal and his Satyagraha. When Arvind Kejriwal lets Anna Hazare do the fasting while he himself handles groundwork, everyone questions why a young man like him isn't sitting to fast. It is worth noting that when a diabetic Arvind Kejriwal indeed fasted for over 8days, none of those skeptics sat beside him to acknowledge. When he fights to eliminate corruption, we ask if his contributions to India are a part of his political ambitions. Like in Kishor’s case, I personally do not believe this man too could have any ulterior motives. But if he reaps something good in the process of helping us, does our collective conscience approve or object to that? His RTI victory has served us Indian citizens far much more than it has secured Arvind any special positions. 

Arvind Kejriwal addressing a rally at Azad Maidan on 9 August 2011

Yet for a moment, let us assume that he indeed has some political plans. Try to recall........ Which other leader in our country today maintains ‘Uprooting Corruption in Quick Definite Steps’ as his electoral agenda? Arvind Kejriwal, on the other hand, has spent years of his life dedicated to that cause! If a strict Lokpal Bill comes into effect, it is not just Arvind's family but our own future generations that will live lives of affluence and security. So again the question pops... What is it that could finally make us people happy? ...that our benefactor isn’t getting the slightest ounce of goodness that he himself has brought upon us? Losers! That explains why we, as a people, are down in the dumps. We offer infinite chances to proven exploiters than to stand by someone new who at least holds some genuine promise for India's better future.

But Team Anna... Thank you for your efforts nevertheless! We can only thank you for not deserting our cause midway even after all this social indifference and apathy we've shown at a time when the Indian citizens' concern and support was needed the most. When a bunch of dedicated people are fasting & protesting to bring about monumental progress in our country, the rest of us shamelessly sit back and watch your news updates on Television. 

Kishor, myself and many others like us will support you wholeheartedly should you ever choose to form a political party someday. Because your motive is more patriotic than political. Thank You for not giving up (on us)! Thank you for holding ground despite all the hostility around.


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