Every citizen who receives a lot of benefits and privileges from the society has a responsibility to pay back to the society. Often the rich and the well-to-do get more privileges and facilities than the poor. Majority of those who make use of the institutions like IITs, IIMs and AIMS (Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Management, All India Medical Science) are from the rich and the middle class of the Indian society and they are getting highly subsided high quality education. A good number of them go abroad and settle down in foreign countries where they get highly paid jobs. Indeed, there are a few who pass out from these prestigious institutions and opt to work for the benefit of the common people. Alok Sagar, who has worked 32 years for the development of tribals in the districts of Betul and Hoshangabad of Madhya Pradesh, is an excellent example for paying back to the society.
Alok Sagar did his bachelor in electrical engineering from the prestigious IIT Delhi and got his masters degree from the same institute in 1973. He went on to complete his PhD at Houston University in Texas, US. After returning from the US he became a professor at his alma mater. In 1982, Sagar resigned as professor and began working with the tribals in Betul and Hoshangabad districts. His main concern was saving the environment and started a movement called ‘one tree at a time’.
He has planted more than 50,000 trees in Betul district. And in association with the Shramik Adiwasi Sangathan, Sagar works for the welfare of tribals. Today, he can be seen riding bicycle, in line with his green endeavour, collecting and distributing seeds among tribals at a reasonable rate.
It is too much to expect from all those who pass out from the IITs and IIMs to opt for working for the underprivileged groups. But definitely they can contribute part of their time, money and knowledge for the benefit of the society, particularly the underprivileged groups. President, Ram Nath Kovind while addressing the alumni of Delhi IIT on November 5 reminded them about the need for giving back to the society. He told them, “Many of those who studied here in the past were fortunate to have their world class education heavily subsidised by the tax payer. There is a moral obligation to pay back, and to help those less privileged — in whichever manner the individual prefers.” He also suggested that the process of giving back should enrich the process of education and scholarship at the grassroots.
Many newspapers and news portals reported an inspiring story of a doctor carrying a pregnant woman on cot for 8 km to a hospital for treatment. Dr Omkar Hota who is posted at Paplur Hospital under Chitrakonda block, in Orissa got information on November 1 that a woman at Serigeta village was complaining serious labour pain. Dr Hota along with an attendant rushed to the village that lacked good road connectivity. Realising that the woman had suffered excess blood loss, the doctor carried out the delivery process at the village. As her condition was serious she was to be taken to the hospital for further treatment. When the villagers refused to carry the woman to the hospital the doctor and the woman’s husband carried her on a cot for 8 km. Thus he saved the mother and the child. Indeed the act of Dr Hota is praiseworthy and a role model for the doctors in India.
The best form of paying back to the society by the government employees, who are placed on responsible positions, is discharging their responsibilities with dedication and concern for the people. Often the insensitivity of the doctors and nurses of the government hospital makes headlines in the newspapers. Many government doctors do private practice and sometimes the medicines meant for the poor are diverted to their medical shops or clinics.
Some people give back to the society for publicity, but genuine paying back is the result of sensitivity to the less privileged sections of the society. Instilling sensitivity in the citizens can be done easily when they are children by the parents at home and by the teachers in the school. Taking the students for exposure visits on a regular basis to the situation of the poor people can create sensitivity in the students. Some schools take the students to orphanages, old age homes and slums. The students interact with the inmates of the orphanages or old age homes as well as with the people in the slums. They see with their own eyes the situation in which people live in the slums. It naturally creates in them a desire to help the less privileged people. Many students decide not only to set apart a part of their pocket money to help the needy but also to do something in the future to change the situation of the poor.
One of the methods used by Universal Solidarity Movement (USM) in its ‘Enlightened Leadership Training’ for the school students is helping the students to formulate Vision, Goals and Policies for their life. As a preparation for formulating the personal vision, goals and policies the students are shown a movie, ‘ Do Kalakar’ in which the difference between a visionary person and an ambitious person is depicted very clearly. The students easily get the message that a visionary person is altruistic whereas an ambitious person is self- centred; a visionary person is spiritual whereas an ambitious person is religious.
Another method used by USM in its leadership training is giving a biography to each participant for reading and writing a review of the book. These biographies depict the life of great visionary leaders. As result of reading the book and writing the review the students are inspired by the life of visionary leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalaam etc.
One of the responsibilities of the educational institutions is to create visionary citizens who are spiritual, altruistic and sensitive to other human beings, particularly the needy. The moral education or value education imparted to the students in the schools often does not motivate the students to become visionary citizens. The religious education imparted to the members by the religious leaders mainly focuses on rituals, prayers, dogmas etc. As a result many youth become exclusive and fundamentalist in their thinking.
A tendency that can be noticed among the people of India today is that they are generous in giving for building temples and offering gifts to their gods. At the same time majority of them are stingy in helping the needy. The tendency to construct opulent churches, temples, mosques, gurudwaras, while millions of people do not have a place to sleep, is nothing but flaunting wealth. These religious leaders who promote gigantic worship centres do not have any right to criticize the rich who flaunt their wealth for marriages and other celebrations. The religions in India in general have failed to motivate people to share a part of their wealth with the needy irrespective of their religion or caste. Sharing a part of one’s wealth only with the people belonging to his religion or caste is not paying back in a genuine sense.
The attitude of ‘paying back to the society’ in an individual is the result of his/her upbringing in the family, the kind of education he/she receives and the culture of the community of which he/she is a member. Parents, teachers and religious leaders have a great role to play in multiplying the individuals who share a part of their wealth with the needy in the society.
(Published on 20th November 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 47)