With Gandhi as guide, these Indians are learning to give half their wealth
Does kindness show in how much you give? In a country with brutal levels of inequity, many are raising that question — and answering it with a pledge to commit half their wealth to charitable causes of their choice, either in their lifetime or through their will.
It all started a year ago when Girish Batra, a Bangalore businessman who runs a start-up incubator, had a small epiphany: that India is not just a nation of impoverished people, but of impoverished givers. Having established a comfortable life, and educated his son, he and his wife Tanu, a yoga teacher, started volunteering. “We began to realise that so much needs to be done and so few are doing it. Our society is a struggling society, but the mindset of the rich is also that of a struggler — I want more, more.” He decided to create a small movement to give back.
A few spirited conversations later, six like-minded people came together to pledge half their wealth. Since then, more than 30 people have joined #livingmypromise. They include an actor, a public relations consultant, some techies, state government employees and a sexual health educator. Livingmypromise.org lists the pledgees and the thinking behind their decision, many of which have a Gandhian undertone. “Life has been kind to me, I owe it to life to be kind in return,” says Rama Arya, who describes herself as a minimalist. “Life is up and down for all of us. Yet many of us have the luxury of security. We have a safety net — knowing no matter how bad things get, we will be ok. And then there are millions who don’t have that,” says Revati Sharma Singh, artist and mountain lover.
Yogesh Parmar, a behavioural scientist, says, “In my growing up years, money was hard to come by, which gave me chance to develop an intimate understanding of what money can enable and what a lack of it can constrain.” Actor Rahul Bose, who aljoined the pledge, says,
so “The fundamental question is: how much is enough? How much do you really need to keep you and your loved ones provided for and happy for their lifetimes?” he says. “The answer, if people are honest with themselves, is: surprisingly much less money than I make or am wanting to make. Once this realisation has been reached, it becomes terrifically easy to give the rest to those who need it more than us.”
Livingmypromise is not an organisation but a community. There is no supervision, nor guidelines. The movement is premised on the Giving Pledge started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in 2010. It is an upper middle class version, perhaps democratising an initiative where the really rich have failed to deliver. Indeed, figures cited
The fundamental question is: how much is enough? How much do you really need to keep you and your loved ones provided for and happy for their lifetimes. The answer, if people are honest with themselves, is: surprisingly much less money than I make
RAHUL BOSE |
in the India Philanthropy Report 2019 suggest that the nation’s wealthiest do not have charity on their mind. A breakdown of private donor contributions reveals that while large donations by ultra-high net worth individuals (those having assets over Rs 25 crore) compose 55% of individual philanthropist funding, about 80% of this figure results from Azim Premji’s donations to his philanthropic organisation, APPI. Take out that contribution across the years, and the segment has seen a 4% decrease. “This is particularly problematic, given that UHNI households have grown at a rate of 12% over the past five years and are expected to double in both volume and wealth from 1,60,600 households with Rs1,53,000 crore combined net worth in 2017 to 3,30,400 households with Rs3,52,000 crore combined net worth in 2022,” the report states.
Another study, cited in report suggested that only 40% of respondents planned to “increase the scale and impact of their giving” as their philanthropic goalpost for 2020.
A report on ‘everyday giving’ by Sattva, an organisation committed to social impact, noted that in contrast with other prominent social economies like the US and China, 90% of India’s everyday giving comprises informal giving to religion and community. India’s everyday givers are motivated by four triggers: convenience, urgency, community and impact. Givers prefer to engage with social causes personally but are impeded in their giving by lack of information on reliable social purpose organisations, relevant avenues for giving, and regulatory barriers, it states.
“If each of us could help solve problems facing society around us with money and time we have, we feel it would fulfil ourselves far more than any mindless consumption,” says Amit Chandra, chairman of Bain Capital India. “Archana (his wife) and I have been on that journey for some time and our giving is averaging over 75% of our net income, which we hope to keep increasing over time.” Tamil Nadu | Haryana | Gujarat
Mizoram | Daman & Diu | Sikkim
Peddapalli (Telangana) | Faridabad | Rewari (both in Haryana) citizens reported sufficient arrangements in village to manage liquid waste districts reported establishing
ODF Sustainability Cell New Delhi: Peddapalli in Telangana has jumped two places in the annual sanitation survey to become the cleanest district replacing Satara in Maharashtra. However, the most remarkable improvement was recorded by Faridabad which jumped to the second rank in the this year’s rural swachhta survey findings from a lowly 71 a year back. Rewari, again from Haryana, was placed third in the survey which covered 690 districts in the country.
The drinking water and sanitation department on Wednesday shared only the highlights of survey findreported sufficient arrangements in village to manage solid waste districts reported construction of community toilets in SC/ ST bastis
ings and sources said the detailed report of all districts will be out soon. Among larger states, Tamil Nadu has topped the list from 11th position in 2018. Haryana and Gujarat slipped to second and third positions respectively, each a rank lower than their 2018 performance.
This time the Swachhta Survey was carried out in 17,200 villages in these 690 districts and the ranks were allocated based on quantitative and qualitative sanitation (swachhta) parameters, which included feedback from the people, direct observation by third party assessors and service level progress by the local administration.
Full report on www.toi.in An Air India Airbus A320 received a new paint job in New Delhi on Wednesday to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The airline has decided to paint Gandhi’s picture on tails of each type of aircraft in its fleet by mid-October