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Charity And Us

Charity And Us

A deluge of thoughts occurred to me when I read this Whatsapp forward today in the morning.

* एक सुन्दर जानकारी मिली, अच्छी लगी, आपके साथ साझा कर रहा हूँ।*

यूरोप का एक देश है नार्वे ….

वहां कभी जाईयेगा तो

यह सीन आम तौर पर पाईयेगा….

एक रेस्तरां है …

उसके कैश काउंटर पर एक महिला आती है

और कहती है –

“5 Coffee, 1 Suspension”..

फिर वह पांच कॉफी के पैसे देती है

और चार कप कॉफी ले जाती है …

थोड़ी देर बाद …

एक और आदमी आता है ,कहता है-

“4 Lunch, 2 Suspension” !!!

वह चार Lunch का भुगतान करता है

और दो Lunch packets ले जाता है…

फिर एक और आता है …

आर्डरदेता है –

“10 Coffee,  6 Suspension” !!!

वह दस के लिए भुगतान करता है,

चार कॉफी ले जाता है…

थोड़ी देर बाद….

एक बूढ़ा आदमी जर्जर कपड़ों में

काउंटर पर आकर पूछता है-

“Any Suspended Coffee ??”

काउंटर-गर्ल मौजूद कहती है-

“Yes !!”

और एक कप गर्म कॉफी उसको दे देती है …

कुछ देर बाद वैसे ही

एक और दाढ़ी वाला आदमी अंदर आता है,

पूछता है-

“Any Suspended Lunch ??”

तो काउंटर पर मौजूद व्यक्ति

गर्म खाने का एक पार्सल और

पानी की एक बोतल उसको दे देता है …

और यह क्रम …

एक ग्रुप द्वारा अधिक पेमेंट करने का

और

दूसरे ग्रुप द्वारा बिना पेमेंट खान-पान ले जाने का

दिन भर चलता रहता है ….

यानि …

अपनी “पहचान” न कराते हुए

और

किसी के चेहरे को “जाने बिना” भी

अज्ञात गरीबों, जरुरतमन्दों की मदद करना…

यह है नार्वे नागरिकों की परंपरा!!!

और बताया गया कि

यह “कल्चर” अब यूरोप के अन्य कई देशों में

फैल रहा है…

और हम …???

अस्पतालों में एक केला,एक संतरा मरीजों को बांटेंगे…

सारे मिलकर अपनी पार्टी, अपने संगठन का

ग्रुप फोटो खिंचाकर

अखबार में छापेंगे !!!

है ना ???

क्या भारत में भी …

इस प्रकार की  खान-पान की

“Suspension” प्रथा का

प्रारंभ हो सकता है ???

अद्भुत! अनुकरणीय !!

For my friends who don’t read Hindi or can’t read it, it is about a trend in Norway in which the people going to any restaurant for a cup of coffee or for dining are asked if they will like to pay for an extra coffee or meal. The intent is to coax them to think about the unprivileged who can’t afford a luxury as far as having a cup of coffee is concerned and necessity when it comes to food. Maybe, when you are prodded, you might agree to pay for an extra meal or coffee that you don’t consume. It is assumed that the restaurant will keep a sincere record of the Coffee and meals kept in “Suspension” which as we understand is the term used for the products people paid for but didn’t consume or in other words were donated.

The writer of the post says that the popularity of the culture is spreading to the other European countries too. Well, it’s a good thing to think of those, who are not as blessed as you are and all cultures and religions preach benevolence.

My thoughts were not prodded to react until, I read-

और हम …???

अस्पतालों में एक केला,एक संतरा मरीजों को बांटेंगे…

सारे मिलकर अपनी पार्टी, अपने संगठन का

ग्रुप फोटो खिंचाकर

अखबार में छापेंगे !!!

Which means

And we-

If we distribute a banana or an orange to the sick in the hospitals, will pose for a group photo for the Newspapers, together with all who are together under a banner or a cause.

This, rattled me. Either, the writer of a post is not an Indian or hasn’t done any charity in his/her life.

The concluding lines of the post are

“Suspension” प्रथा का

प्रारंभ हो सकता है ???

अद्भुत! अनुकरणीय !!

A start can be made towards the “Suspension” tradition

And to add an effect to his/her post he/she has added to adjectives in the end- “Wonderful”, “Exemplary.”

My reaction was spontaneous and this is what I wrote in response

Parampara to achhi hai, lekin aisa bhi nahin ki Hindustan mein ek kela baant ke log photo khinchwate hain. If any statistics exist about the amount of money a nation collectively gives away in charity and we can access those figures, then I bet India will be the leading nation in which charity is done. In terms of goods and things or even man hours and rendering services for the cause of charity too, India will in the top five if not on the top of the such a list.

Roti Bank Initiative

There are more than a dozen NGO having branches all over the country, that pick up rations and food from homes on call and regularly from hotels they collect surplus food for distribution among the poor. Free meals initiatives in some form or at such a low cost as ten rupees is being given by many state administrations. Amma canteens initiative of giving food at low cost to the poor, by Jay lalitha, late ex-Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu ensured her elevation to the level of a deity and her regular winning of elections.

People of our Sector preparing meals for distributing to the poor localities during Lock Down

During Covid lock down, our sector society supplied cooked meals to poor for two months. They not only contributed money and material but also participated in preparation and distribution. During the course of this social service, one participant’s mother passed away, but he and his wife didn’t take off from rendering their services for cooking meals and packing it, saying that what they were doing was indeed the best they could do to please the soul of their beloved mother.

Langar- at a Gurudwara

I am sure lakhs of such social services must have done a similar act of charity across the nation. The government of India is giving free rations to the people below poverty line for the last six months to help them through this crisis which has resulted in loss of livelihood to many. In our Gurudwaras from last 500 hundred years and in the temples for thousands of years, Bhandaras (offering free meals) are constantly running where anyone can have food. And daan ( giving alms) has been a tradition with us ever since thousands of years. No photo ops, no celebrations are done while do it, it’s as such called gupt daan (Secret Donations).  When Jains become monks, they not only renounce wealth, they distribute it all to the people lined up on the road leading to peeth. In India the problem is not of lack of charity, but of excess of it. 🙏

Free meals at a Temple

We have gone so far in to it that we think that getting things for free is our right. The political parties use it as a tool for luring people, the religious people do it to appease Gods and the good-hearted people do it all the time without taking any credit for it.

In China one has to buy a ticket for entering a temple. Maybe, that money goes for maintenance of the temples and for meeting other running expenses including wages for the priests etc. no such fees are levied for entering any religious places in India as they all run on donations. Such a fee must be necessary in China because I learnt from the Chinese that there’s no tradition of charity in the Chinese, but still I noticed that at all temples, there were piles of currency notes offered at the feet of the deities. I also saw the people throwing coins after making wishes at huge urns placed all around in the monasteries.

People throwing coins at Urns in China

And while talking of donations it is worth mentioning here that the estimated annual donations to one of the most visited temples in India Tirupati Balaji were Rs 1,161.74 crore last year. I am sure this doesn’t include the cost of other offerings in the form of jewellery and other expensive gifts that people donate at the temple. Though this is perhaps the richest temple in India but this is one those thousands of such religious places in India. This brings to my mind the unusual hardships suffered during the lock down due to Covid-19, by the people whose livelihood was connected to rituals, beliefs and practices connected to religion.

Though most of the charity done by the Indians is for appeasing the Gods or warding off the evil effects of unfavourable planetary positions as per astrological calculations or for accumulating credits by doing good deeds for their future births or for the atonement of sins of their previous births, but they do a lot of it. Unlike the Chinese they do not burn fake currency notes to pay for the needs of the ancestors in the heavens but they spend real money and donate food items, clothes and other articles, even cows, venerating their dead ancestors.

When it comes to charity, nobody can give a lesson to Indians at least 😄🙏. We do not need to learn from others. While the “Suspension” tradition might be something new that the Norwegians might have thought of for showing that they care for the lesser privileged, they are way behind us.

 

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Navneet Bakshi

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