Sunday, January 30, 2011

The e-Altruistic Resolve

As my eyes were ambling through an e issue of The Economic Times, something caught a second glance - Sudeshna Sen’s blog titled ` Philanthropy – Take It From Me’. (

The question in the microscope was `"Why are Indians so bad at giving?". To quote her, “The need for financial security outweighs the need to feel charitable, except for religious or economic purposes. Besides, Indians have this insane need to 'provide' for the next generation that, in turn, generates those fabulous savings rates that are the envy of the developed world. If you had to pay inheritance tax, like in UK, you wouldn't be saving up as much as you do.”

Very true, I agreed. We so much hold back from giving. While the `mango man’ might be willing to dole out money for charring crackers to glory in a local temple festival, or save up all his whittles to gold-plate his daughter on her wedding, philanthropy has always been thought of as a reprehensible act, reserved only for the pompous and flamboyant filthy rich.

Forget the real world, let’s enter the e world, and I’m sure the phenomenon is more or less the same. We almost google for help as many times as we breath… but how many times have we bothered to respond to an online help query?

The thought did not rake my head until I once tumbled over Chris Grant’s blog on digital altruism ( He describes digital altruism as “a deep-seeded need to do good in the world and how, thanks to new technologies, we can be a part of something bigger than ourselves from anywhere in the world, transcending the market and our own self-interest.” Lo and behold, the whole world is at its altruistic best, and where am I?

So yes, I belong to the major chunk of Indians who are `digital-altruistically’ impaired. I shamelessly google for help, initiate discussions, accept helpful responses from people in some other continent. But never have I bothered to give my two cents (or even a quarter!).

Time for me to emulate my teammate Sayuj, who has resolved to do as many `digital altruistic’ acts as possible during free time.
Okay… so who’s hit the help button today?