It was an eye-opening afternoon at The Press Club, Mumbai yesterday where great forces came together to talk about philanthropy, giving and taking.
Social Access Communications and Points for People, an initiative of Tata Trusts came together to present a Master Class with author Amish Tripathi. The discussion was moderated by Lynn de Souza, Founder, Social Access with Amish Tripathi, Brian Almeida, co-founder of Points for People and Ganesh Neelam, Zonal Manager, North and Central India, Tata Trusts, as panelists. And it shed light on several aspects on charity, philanthropy and the act of giving.
What I took away was quite a lot considering all I gave was time and attention. And therein lies the beautiful concept of charity as defined in the East. In his book, Immortal India, a collection of articles and speeches by him, Amish devotes an entire chapter on Charity. “The Ancient Indian Approach to Charity & Inclusiveness” covers lucidly both, the Western and the Eastern concepts of Charity.
In conversation with Lynn, Amish brought out these significant differences, expounding on phrases like ‘guilt-tripping the rich’ and the weakness of this tripartite model of a donor, an intermediary and the recipients of the charity. Amish talked about the fundamental downsides of this model.
In a somewhat diametrically opposite way, the Eastern concept of charity is based on karmic debt – the concept based on the logic of karma. This makes the recipient of your charity someone who “is doing you a good turn because he’s taking a debt in his own karma account for your sake, which he will need to pay back sometime, either in this life or the next.”
This is the wisdom of the ages. Of the sages.
Points for People seems to be a logical extension of this thought. If charity is part of our intrinsic philosophy as Indians, then this concept just makes it possible to give away in charity in a simple, seamless and secure way. In an age of conspicuous consumption, a little sharing of your ‘shopping points’ is easy. And when this is given to charity, it’s a win-win on all sides. Brian Almeida, co-founder of this brilliant thought, elaborated on this further and talked about how redemption encourages loyalty. With large logos of financial institutions already a part of this movement, Brian talked about how people (especially Mumbaikars) just need an opportunity to give back.
To add to this wisdom Ganesh Neelam of Tata Trusts also brought out the fact that most women lead the movement and carry others with them.
It was a conversation replete with nuggets of wisdom. This was followed by book signing by Amish (so stoked that I have my very own signed copy! Thanks @authoramish) and ‘chai and snacks’.
And the final ‘token of appreciation’ was a specially created representation of Shiva by 5-year-old Jiza – a gift that visibly moved the author.
In his own words, “This is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received”.
And with that we came to the end of an eye-opening afternoon and the desire to give, to share, to donate and above all to be part of #TheGoodForce.
Thank you, Lynn de Souza, and the entire team at Social Access communications for putting up a really wonderful event.