The other day, Jaya and I went to see an exhibition called देणे समाजाचे! The exhibition was organized by Veena Gokhale in memory of her late husband Dilip, who wanted to do such activity. This was an exhibition of various products made and services provided by organizations run for the downtrodden, by people like you and me! Maybe I used a wrong word! Most of “You and me” don’t do these things. The people who run these organizations are driven by some secret energy to help people who need help. What I observed was that more than 50% of such organizations were from Marathwada and Vidarbha region. Some have been running for around 25 years! These were formed after the horrible earthquake with epicentre at a place called Killari. Around ten thousand people died in this earthquake.
The earthquake hit the region at 3.54 am, when most were asleep, on 30th September 1993 and its intensity was 6.2. It was a major earthquake but the intensity was not so large to kill ten thousand people. The region has been known for its poverty and people lived there, at least in those times, in houses which were made by keeping stones on top of each other, with no cementing material. The earthquake shook these homes and people were crushed under the stones. A lot of people and material was rushed to that area to rehabilitate people. Though this was a commendable effort, dead don’t come back, ever. Last week I saw a picture of a woman who is now a teacher in a school in that area. She was caught under the debris as a child during the earthquake and was saved by a valiant army officer. The army officer went to look for the child and met the lady! What a reunion it must have been! These types of human stories make it worthwhile to be in this world.
Along with army officers and jawans, there have been many such volunteers who did the yeomen service to the cause. These large-hearted people took up cudgels to bring back the lives of affected people to normal! These people have given long-term commitment and devote a lot of time to continue doing this work. I have given an example of Killari but let me assure you all other people, organizations are equally committed and devoted to whatever cause they have taken up. It is not only rehabilitation of broken homes, in the long term they are all running schools, creating artisans, sometimes using technology and other times using common sense. They are helping people to stand on their feet. It was heartening to meet a student who came out of this “university’ of social work and giving back to his alma mater; he works as their Pune office, besides his regular job, and takes care of various things. I also met an engineering graduate from my alma mater COEP, who has also joined one of the organizations as an advisor! He gives about a week every month for this work!
What drives these people to take up such work as a lifetime commitment? Are they born in a different world? Are they people with a lot of money? No, I don’t think so. Each person looks at the same issue from a different angle. It is like the Elephant and five blind men. People look at issues from the lens of their own experiences in life. Some just dive in to help people, you and me sometimes donate, but in most cases we only give lip service!
Here is another angle to look at the world in a different way, it is the other side of the same coin. There are doctors, engineers, architects and many such professionals who have taken up different kind of giving it back to society. They are highly accomplished professionals and have acquired tremendous knowledge, skill sets. Should giving back to the society be done only for the benefit of the downtrodden? Should it be only for those who have nothing in life? If these highly accomplished people keep their knowledge to themselves it does not help anyone. I have seen people giving back to society in their own way. I sincerely hope that this movement also catches up. This is going to give a great satisfaction to the professionals who are helping others. This is going to help the person/organization which is taking advise from these people. In the end, with this movement, India will move forward on the world technology map and in the value chain.
A classmate of mine, Veerendra, comes every winter to India and shares his knowledge by teaching people here about his knowledge in super computing area. Supercomputers are the name of the game in future, as new technology is coming in very fast. New technology is getting ready for day to day use. But all this needs people from their respective fields to use this technology. The people maybe from science, arts, engineering, medical fields. There are a couple of ways of doing it; one can charge fees or one can do it, Pro Bono!
For various reasons, different professionals are giving this type of service. Sathya Saibaba Institute has been a leading organization giving great service. World-renowned doctors from all over the world come there for between 2 to 4 weeks, offer their services. Mind you these are not the Indian diaspora but there are many renowned experts of different caste and creed, who take part in this program. They come here at their own cost and perform diagnostics and surgeries free of cost. This is simply because of their love and respect for Sathya Sai Baba. People are blessed to get services of the world’s professionals.
World’s best-known philanthropist, Bill Gates and his Wife Melinda have set an example to all of us. Besides donating billions of dollars for the betterment of humanity, they also use their project management expertise to ensure that whatever projects are taken up, reach a proper conclusion. Many times, it so happens that some good projects are started but many times they fail due to corruption and lack of management expertise.
Near home, Jaya has taken up sharing of information about modern technology like IOT, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual reality with everybody! Her theme is that general people also should know what to expect because these things are going to come anyway. Another important angle is that, she is suggesting to professionals, that this new technology is to be developed not by computer people but by Mechanical and Civil Engineers, Architects, Artists or whoever has good subject knowledge about their field of expertise. Computers and computer people are tools and service providers. My dear friend Nayan, has been teaching English to non English speaking immigrants who arrive in the United States. He has been doing it for many many years. He was honored by the President of USA for his meritorious service!
Friends, one the best way of feeling enchanted, feeling happy is to give! Some give money, some give clothes, some give time and some share their valuable knowledge and expertise. In life, some are takers and some are givers. It is our choice what we want to become! I would rather be a giver! How this can be achieved? We need to find our own path.