As our great nation prepares to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Daan Utsav, let me share a small example with a great sense of pride: Less than a week ago, our newspapers were filled with citizens from all walks of life pledging to give away half of their wealth in their lifetimes towards those among us who are less privileged!
Those making these pledges were not only the ultra-wealthy like Azim Premjee, and Ratan Tata whose contributions are indeed admirable. These are ordinary citizens like you and me – HR professionals, yoga teachers, entrepreneurs, retired corporate professionals and other such who believe in the causes they are contributing towards. This is exactly the kind of change that Daan Utsav was hoping to bring when started ten years ago, and the kind of change Points for People is hoping to empower. That “Giving” is not just a prerogative of the rich and wealthy, but a value-system that can be enjoyed and cherished by each one of us.
It is tempting to believe when you see numbers like Rs.8,000 crores donated by Azim Premji or Rs.3,000 crores by Shiv Nadar that giving is a function of affluence. But that is not the case. Daan Utsav (earlier called the Joy of Giving Week) is India’s ‘festival of giving’. Launched in 2009, the festival is celebrated every year – commencing on Gandhi Jayanti – from October 2 to 8. From auto rickshaw drivers to CEOs, school children to celebrities, homemakers to opinion leaders and media personnel, millions of people from all walks of life come together during this week to give their time, money, resources, or skills back to society.
An ethic is something that we would practice, irrespective of the external circumstances. To cite an example of conscious charity, when the Tata Group of companies was set up, and before it was this multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, it was designed to be a powerful actor of civil society. When Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata set up the Tata Group of Companies, he ensured that a majority of shares in Tata Sons was held by The Tata Trusts. This ensured an institutionalized way for progress by corporate India to be linked to the progress of those among us who are underprivileged.
The example of Tata Sons has inspired many others. We at ‘Points for People’ ensure that as we accrue reward loyalty points when spending and enjoying ourselves, there is now an automatic system to link our joy to those among us who are underprivileged. Our reward points can be contributed back to important causes such as education, health and safety of marginalized communities, livelihood assistance and cancer treatments for the poor. It is only a year old but has already crossed 7 million points demonstrating the latent desire to contribute in our great country. The outpouring was especially strong when citizens contributed heavily towards relief efforts for the Kerala floods.
So, on this auspicious week of Daan Utsav, allow me to urge each one of you, my fellow citizens to contribute. Contribute by way of your time to help an elder person or an orphan feel loved. Contribute by way of your knowledge or expertise to help improve our city management, our non-for profits and our government institutions by being active and contributing citizens.
Contribute material resources if you can to support our health and education institutes. And if you cannot do any of the above, at least contribute your rewards points. You’ll be surprised how big a difference even those small number of loyalty points can make to our society! Giving of either time, or expertise or money or points is an Act of Joy! And I pray that you experience this joy in this very special week! Happy Giving!