“How do you cope with the poverty?” That must be the question I have been asked most frequently by visitors to India. I often reply, “I don’t have to. The poor do.” It’s certainly true. I live a very comfortable life in Delhi, while the taxi-drivers who have lived opposite me for fourteen years have to sleep in their cars in the cold winter and on a charpai or light bedstead in the open during the hot weather.
I have a three bed-roomed flat. The taxi rank is their home. My foreign guests expect the taxi-drivers to take them back to the hotels whatever hours of the night it may be. Before leaving they will check the fare with me to make sure the taxi-drivers don’t get a few more rupees than they are due. That is the way my guests usually “cope with the poverty.”
From the Introduction to “No Full Stops in India” by [Sir] Mark Tully
This is one of the most powerful paragraphs I have ever read. I have this passion for promoting philanthropy and time and again I usually talk about social change and how and what we can do to promote positive changes in the society. These lines as you can see, strongly depicts human hypocrisy. People love to talk about poverty, they love to talk about change but people just refrain when it comes to actually taking money out of their own pockets. This is exactly what Mark Tully is trying to portray from the lines.
Most of the people who come to India including Tully’s friends ask him about how he copes with poverty. But after his friends have a nice dinner and drinks, while they return, they make sure that they don’t waste a single penny by giving it to the taxi drivers who spend their nights in the taxi itself. Stating such a condition, the writer is mocking them and the lines come out as a satire to them. As that is how they cope with poverty.
The lines really touched me as it ironically depicts human pretense. It also talks about how it is important to maintain a balance between what you say and what you do and enforces the idea of how one should practice what they preach. This is the core essence that the writer is trying to express.
I always talk about two things, one is practical philanthropy and other is philanthropic journalism. Talking about practical philanthropy, not all people can be as great as Mother Teresa or some people cannot spend their whole life serving others. But common people like us can separate a small portion of our regular earnings to help those who are less fortunate.
It is of course not good to cheat or be cheated but the taxi drivers which Tully mentions in his book are poor people in India. So it doesn’t make a huge difference if they are cheating a meager amount to feed their families. When people are poor they don’t have an option and we would have done the same if we were to be in their shoes. Well-off people like Tully’s friends shouldn’t bother too much about such a situation if it is going to support someone else to survive. You cannot expect sincerity and honesty from people who are finding it hard to have even one decent meal. It is therefore partly our responsibility to support such people and this is what Tully is exactly trying to express.
A writer, practical philanthropist and also a philanthropic journalist, Mishra is currently the head of the BBC Nepali Service. Very articulate and precise about his beliefs, writing has always been a passion for him.
“My father being a painter and an artist, the kind of home environment that I was brought up in also encouraged me to venture into writing,” says Mishra.
He is also the founder of entirely voluntarily run global charity, HELP NEPAL Network: One Dollar a Month Fund for Nepal, a global charity which runs on voluntary basis.
Mishra is also the author of the book on political and social commentaries, Bhumadhyarekha. He has the experience of working on all platforms of journalism that includes print, radio, television and online.
A strong advocate of philanthropic journalism, Mishra says he is trying to connect philanthropy with journalism because he believes that the core value of journalism is public service.
“But the kind of journalism that we have been practicing for decades, not only in Nepal but throughout the world, does not fulfill the idea of public service. We just talk about disasters, deaths, political wrangling and all of those negative aspects of the society.”
So he thinks that there are lots of good things happening in the society and we need to encourage that.
“I think all major newspapers should have philanthropic beats and reporters who should do stories that will create positive vibes in the society,” says Mishra.
His recent book “Khana Pugos, Dina Pugos” will also be out in the market soon.
Mishra’s five picks
The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer
Singer is an Australian professor of Bioethics. However, he has written lots of books on ethical values and on how we can make the society better by being more generous. The Life You Can Save is basically about ethical values and how can one save someone else’s life. It doesn’t take much to do something kind like that as all it takes is the willingness to do it. The author also practices practical philanthropy as he separates certain percentage of his earnings to help those who cannot help themselves. I can relate myself to his books and I also get inspiration from his writings.
Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water Before I Die by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is an African American author who has written numerous poems, essays, autobiographies, among others. I like her writings because poetry is usually a very complex thing and lots of people find it difficult to understand it. Despite being one of the most powerful poets, she expresses things in such simple yet powerful manners. This book of hers is a collection of poems and I really like the first poem, “They went home.”
Ghumne Mechmathi Andho Manchhe by Bhupi Sherchan
When your writing doesn’t exude some kind of power, then it fails to grasp the readers and they don’t remember much of it. Writing should touch your heart or mind and if it can touch both, then I call that the most successful and powerful writing. Sherchan is that kind of writer who has really touched my soul and mind. This book of his, including others, are so simple but full of depth, intellect and power.
Creating A World Without Poverty by Mohammad Yunus
Yunus is from Bangladesh and is a Noble Peace Prize Laureate for establishing the Grameen bank in his effort to create economic and social development. In this book, he talks about how to use business socially. Social business is close to social entrepreneurship and he talks about how in this capitalistic world, we can use business to actually eradicate poverty. Social business is not just about making profit only but making modest profits and giving it back to the society as well so that the poor people can also benefit.
The Third Way by Anthony Giddens
Giddens is one of Britain’s leading academics. In The Third Way, he talks about how you can combine the best of capitalism and communism. It talks about social democracy and compassionate socialism. The third way is primarily related to politics but also related to the core values of the society.