Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why I am not aligned to any cause



It is the era of alignment. Pakistan with China, USA with Israel, Russia with Syria Snowden. You just need a cause. Or two.

In the page 3 and politically active crowd, it is fashionable to be aligned to a cause. There are expensive dinners, big parties, runs, walks, charity balls and what not. AIDS was a very glamorous cause till some time ago. Hunger, poverty, child development continue to be the pets of beauty queens. And oh! not to mention world peace, whatever that means. And then you have to put up large hoarding all over town about how your party is organizing that eye operation camp where they will also give away pen drives free.

These forums apart there are the genuine folk who donate in kind, time or cash. They sift the list of causes, pour over details of exactly how their money is being spent, audit accounts and then help in a big way. All without seeking publicity. God bless these souls.

Social media explosion has had an interesting effect on cause promotion. The list of causes promoted and therefore to choose from is endless. You could donate to Greenpeace this year, PETA the next, HELPAGE INDIA in the third. All this in between helping the girl child survive and preventing malnourishment. Whew!

I don’t have anything against them. Their involvement might actually help the cause in some way, free publicity thrown in. The beneficiaries might actually be receiving the promised help.

I chose to donate to none, nor give my time to anyone.

What happened to being a good’ol tax paying, law abiding citizen? It went out of fashion long ago apparently. But just imagine if we were all to follow this simple principle of paying all valid taxes on time, going by the rule book, and being sensitive to others’ needs. It is simple really, something that should come naturally to someone who wants his rights as  citizen. Argumentative Indians would claim that all the good these aligned folks do, offsets all their unscrupulousness – in evading taxes and breaking the law. Perhaps, but if we just did what we are supposed to as citizens we wouldn't need to do anything else. No need to compensate for being bad. The government would have enough resources to look out for those in need, support any cause it chose and do exactly what it is supposed to do.

Then they could argue that granted we did our bit as citizens, there would still be a lot left to do where the government has no direct role. Then how about we influence the government to in turn influence those who do play that role! Cure for cancer? Sure, government gives a grant for research, helps set direction through the appropriate ministry, audits results periodically, makes sure once a cure is found it filters down to everyone. Easy, no?

Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012. I watched and listened all the speakers at the talk via www.ftideacaravan.com. There is a common thread. They all have a cause close to their heart. The spectrum of support systems they are working on ranges from working with nomads to get them into the mainstream, empowering women, conceptualizing low cost housing, helping the deaf, the color blind, right up to taking the fear out of mathematics.

From what I felt as I heard them present, there is tremendous passion for the cause, an urgency to fill a void. A void left by the government, by social institutions, and by fellow humans beings.

What if we did what was expected of us citizens, and the void was filled by those who should? Imagine all these talented individuals free to innovate on what others before them had built. Free of expectations, of challenges that come with success in social situations, free of looking back all the time to see when the system will undermine them. Free from having to worry about when the next donation will come along. Imagine a world where all these ideas and energy is channelized for sustaining the momentum of innovation. Only. Free of the need to fill a void. Free to fail, rise and start again. They would all be still doing the same things they are doing now, but without the challenges and the burdens.

Free to be themselves. Just like the people they are working for.

It is in support of those tireless innovators that I am not aligned to any cause. They deserve a steady backing. All I am for is to be a good citizen. And that is all I will do.

Here are a couple of presentation that I liked:

http://youtu.be/haMM-hiG6k4

http://youtu.be/42i1sIZ-9kQ