Why pretend to serve those you cannot relate to?

M. K. Gandhi writes in the Hind Swaraj:
"I am so constructed that I can only serve my immediate neighbours, but in my conceit I pretend to have discovered that I must with my body serve every individual in the Universe. In thus attempting the impossible, man comes in contact with different natures, different religions, and is utterly confounded."
Keeping the spirit of Gandhi's discourse, the same is true of different languages (which are probably covered under "different natures"). The upwardly mobile Indian today comes in contact with Indians of different languages, and is utterly confounded. Yet, having left his own homeland, he seems not to drop his pretension that he must serve with his body Indians whose tongue he knows not.

I pity the plight of those who run the many charities in Bengaluru's corporate houses, so full of well-meaning people who wish to serve that abstract entity called India, but have no way of truly connecting with flesh-and-blood embodiments of India around them -- Kanandigas -- simply because they cannot speak Kannada or connect with their hearts.

In reality, those non-Kannadigas who throng these charity houses have come too far, too far for it to be any more practical for them to serve anybody other than their own selves. But they realize it not. Some argue that the tax they pay, or other NGOs they work with, do the job. But can all these constructs do the job ever better than a priest who is asked to pray in proxy?


Santosh Chachadi said...

I posted this comment earlier, but somehow it did not appear. I will try again:
Kiran, do you have empirical evidence of charities run by non-Kannadigas not being effective? I, for one, am very proud of the charity of my organization (incidentally being run by a non-Kannadiga). Ofcourse, as Kannadigas ourselves, we play a large role in directing the activities of the charity for the benefit of Karnataka - be it for the floods in North Karnataka, the droughts, etc.

Kiran Rao Batni said...


I have nothing against any particular charity. My point was based on an overall assessment.

By 'run by', I did not mean the top person in the charity, such as the founder; I mean every single person in it. My point applies to those who are in those charities and cannot relate to the beneficiaries of their charitable acts.

Yes, I do have emperical evidence, too. Your own charity is one evidence. My message goes out to every non-Kannadiga in your own org, if any.

Santosh Chachadi said...

Kiran, now this is really interesting! If you have any feedback about the charity that my organization runs, please do email me. I will ensure that it gets the attention it deserves.

Kiran Rao Batni said...

You're not catching the line of my argument. I'm not talking about your org in particular, but in general. I don't know which org you belong to, and I'm not saying that it's not doing good work.

Santosh Chachadi said...

But then what is the point of your article? As long as it results in good for Kannadigas in particular and the not-so-lucky-in-life sections of society in general, should we worry about how the people who serve connect to the people who get served or do not connect with them at all? I am asking this as a Kannadiga who might tomorrow have to work in another state or country for that matter - as long as I serve society, should it matter to my organization whether I connect? Should I stop to think of whether I did connect emotionally with them or just celebrate a feeling of achievement and move on? Should my organization not think of the next opportunity to execute its CSR?

Kiran Rao Batni said...

If you understand the Gandhi quote, you will understand my point.

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