Volunteering has been deep rooted in Indians since ages. It may not be a mainstream part of the Indian culture, but knowingly or unknowingly, we all volunteer in our day to day lives. From taking notes in class for a friend to Hitchhiking, we have been there and done that!
To understand what volunteering is, and how it works and helps people in their daily life, let us take the most typical example and the part and parcel of our life – traffic. Imagine yourself on a square where the traffic light is not functioning (so that means any other day in Delhi). You are stuck in the traffic, in your car, just counting on the number of meetings you are going to miss and the bike rider next to you takes it upon himself to clear the jam, one by one requesting people to shift so that everyone can move. For that time being, though he is not a traffic police officer, he has adopted the role as a pro. Soon enough you realize that the crossing is clear for you to go and he has been elevated to a real hero in your eyes.
Okay, so now the question arises, why did the bike rider do it? An answer to that lies in how Morgan Freeman once said in one of his movies. “How do we change the world? One single Act of Random Kindness at a time”. He took responsibility because he saw a problem right in front of his eyes and didn’t want just to let it go because he felt responsible for it. That’s what real change makers are made of.
There are various examples that we might come across in our lives that have volunteerism hidden in them but, due to a lack of such a culture, officially, in India, we tend to ignore and move on just by exclaiming “Oh what a kind-hearted and generous person!” We need to realize the beauty of volunteerism. Not only does it have the superpowers of transforming the lives of many people who are being touched (by the act of volunteerism), but it also has the incredible strength to change you for good.
Dr. Kohle is one excellent example of how volunteerism has the immense power of tansformation; of self as well as of the ones who are served. Dr. Ravindra Kohle, who was the first doctor of his village, was expected to return home after his MBBS. He decided to devote himself and his skills for the good of the society. He moved to the village – Melghat, which hadn’t seen a doctor till then. He treated patients there and put in a lot of efforts to make the lives of farmers easy. He developed a fungus-resistant seed variety, taught the youth farming techniques, saving the environment and beneficial government schemes as well. He took the initiative of taking up PDS (Public Distribution System), which resulted in everyone having enough food, thus eradicating the problem of farmer suicides.
Purushottam Das Gupta, an auto-rickshaw driver, did manage to set an example in front of all of us by his green movement. As a responsible resident of Mumbai, he could not sit behind and see the trees being cut down. The new ones that were planted were also not taken of. So, he decided to water them and nurture them. He used to carry 15 liters of water in his auto and water plants that he crossed in his way.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, people are busy celebrating birthdays! Well then, you probably might want to know the whole story. Avijit’s life took a pause when he saw poor little kids begging at the traffic signal. Some of them had a plastic knife, an empty cake box, and some other birthday stuff, thrown in the garbage. They smiled with it in their hands, and the scene moved Avijit a lot. He was hit by the idea of celebrating birthday with them. He tweeted the same and got a great response. He came across a lot of people who appreciated the idea and wanted to do the same. Today, they have a big group which organizes birthday parties for kids, not only in Delhi but ten different cities, including Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, etc. and thus, ‘Happy Birthday Bharat’, today, has 2,200 active members.
As Indians, we need to open our eyes and embrace the social problems that dwell right front of us. Giving back to the society is something that everyone should do for the better future. Most of the time, we tend to forget how important it is to make ‘inclusive growth’ happen.
We have serious social issues amidst us that need to be checked and answered. Some of the critical ones are the lack of employability, lack of opportunities, discrimination on uncountable grounds, poverty, corruption, overpopulation and so on and so forth. We need to spread awareness and eradicate the problems so that we might be able to grow as a country, develop and prosper. Let us volunteer and take a step forward.
By Shrikant Sinha, CEO – NASSCOM Foundation