Friday, February 23, 2007

Help or Business? (Please suggest an apt title)

Last night when I went Gachibowli, Hyderabad for dinner, I found two women in front of the mess – one was a young mother around twenty (probably less than that) carrying an infant and the other was an old woman (around 50, probably her mother) holding another 1-2 years old girl.

I saw her pleading with the people around and came to me – she told her story (donno whether made up or real) – that her husband came to city to work as a construction laborer and she came to city the previous day morning in search of him (the only thing she knew was he got work in Gachibowli as told by him to her) – that they hadn’t had food since then – I would have taken it as a routine patch up story by the routine beggars except for the last sentence she had told – that she was pleading not money, but food! I asked her whether she would like to have roti or rice – she said anything to feed her children. I went to the counter and asked the proprietor to pack two meals (he was watching this all the way; since I have been taking my dinner for the last 1.5 years, he and I enjoy some rapport). He was shocked and reluctant to give saying they would eat in front of the mess and spoil the premises. The bearers and other customers were staring at me! I promised him that they would leave as soon as they get the food. I gave them the packs and told them to go back to their place.

While I was having my dinner, he came and complained, rather tried to educate me that – they were regulars in this – that he had seen them quite a few times in the nearby local railway station (not sure he did!) – that they were there right from the evening - that they would go and repeat the same story in front of some other shop/hotel – that they cheated me and I should be more careful about these people.

I gave him a spot reply: If they had cheated me, I would lose nothing, probably half of my weekend multiplex movie ticket. But if they didn’t, then I would have tried my part to solve their hunger for one night.

Well I haven’t done any good deed, probably I am not ready to take them to my place and help them either find the man or escort them to the bus station or rail station and send them to their native.

But the whole night, I couldn’t stop thinking, why people have become so materialistic, thinking everything from the point of money; including me, I calculated that it would be only 40 if I buy them food, but more time and money if I try to really help them (of course, if her story is real).

This has also rekindled the questions that always ponder on my mind when it comes to philanthropy and service to the society –

1. To what extent one should indulge oneself in helping the society and country – more than the life like a soldier does? Or dedicate full time like a Vinobha or Medha Patkar does? Or donate a meager part of the salary to a social organization or trust and shrug off like a reasonably good person? Or think only about my life like an average and selfish person?

2. If at all we help some one, should we expect something in return – My opinion will be – NOTHING personally to me, but to the society that helped the person. For instance, if an orphan is brought up with the help of some good people and if he achieves a better position in life like a Software engineer or an IAS officer, I feel he/she should at least try to help some other people who are suffering like he/she did (a principle similar to Stalin, a Telugu movie).

I had a discussion on the second question with my friends during lunch today and one of them opined that “One should expect nothing while helping – Otherwise, it should not be called as HELP, but BUSINESS”.


  1. Hey Jyothi,

    Thats a nice blog. I agree with you, when we help be it not we expect nothing neither to one who helped nor to the society, in either case it's a business. By the way, what do you mean by 'Software Engineer'? I guess people need to be more specific as these days SE is a common term and is not a success goal any longer

  2. Thanks Leela!
    But I would like to remind you that "not expecting" is not my opinion. I firmly believe that the recepient should pay back to the society.

    SE might have become a common term, but the various job profiles available in IT industry sound alien to most of the outsiders.

  3. Hi Annaya,
    Your blog is very good.I agree with your opinion,if we expect some thing from the person whom we have helped it is Business not help.
    As you believe that recepient should pay back to society but Is this really happening? How many are really helping back to the society who have been helped by the society?

  4. Thanks supreetha. But I think there is some problem with the way I have written this blog.
    Whatever you have said is not my opinion - I don't consider it as BUSINESS, but at the same time expect the people who received the help to pay back to society.
    The term BUSINESS was the opinion of my friends, as it was stated.

    Regarding your questions - just questioning would never help - one should try to provide answers.