Concept of sacrifice!!!

January, 2021

Dear Friends

In May, 2020, in the peak of Corona, a 70 year old non-descript woman called Kamalamma from Mysuru made headlines. Social media was agog with her selfless gesture of donating Rs. 500 out of her measly monthly pension of Rs. 600 towards a food distribution programme. As is the nature of Mysoreans, she handed over the amount very sheepishly and apologetically to the volunteers group and requested them to accept her humble contribution. She made headlines all over. Many of you will recall the cartoon that depicted the generous Mother on top of the Corona donors table, way above the corporate czars – George Soros, Azim Premji, Bill Gates & Jack Dorsey. Why not when she had donated 90% of her earnings ? At a time when she herself was eating out of distributed food, having lost her house-maid job thanks to Corona. That 500 rupees was truly a precious, premium donation indeed ! Over the last 9 months, many people across the world have responded in different ways demonstrating their humaneness.

This reminds me of something I read years ago, post the 2011 Fukushima power plant disaster caused due to the earthquake and tsunami. To keep the emotions intact, I am reproducing what was written by a policeman Ha Minh Tanh about a 9 year old Japanese boy and his generosity, a true lesson in sacrifice :

“Brother, there was a really moving incident. It involves a little Japanese boy who taught an adult like me a lesson on how to behave like a human being.

Last night, I was sent to a little grammar school to help a charity organization distribute food to the refugees. It was a long line that snaked this way and that and I saw a little boy around 9 years old. He was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of shorts.

It was getting very cold and the boy was at the very end of the line. I was worried that by the time his turn came there wouldn’t be any food left. So I spoke to him. He said he was at school when the earthquake happened. His father worked nearby and was driving to the school. The boy was on the third floor balcony when he saw the tsunami sweep his father’s car away.

I asked him about his mother. He said his house is right by the beach and that his mother and little sister probably didn’t make it. He turned his head and wiped his tears when I asked about his relatives.

The boy was shivering so I took off my police jacket and put it on him. That’s when my bag of food ration fell out. I picked it up and gave it to him. “When it comes to your turn, they might run out of food. So here’s my portion. I already ate. Why don’t you eat it?”

The boy took my food and bowed. I thought he would eat it right away, but he didn’t. He took the bag of food, went up to where the line ended and put it where all the food was waiting to be distributed.

I was shocked. I asked him why he didn’t eat it and instead added it to the food pile. He answered: “Because I see a lot more people hungrier than I am. If I put it there, then they will distribute the food equally.”

When I heard that I turned away so that people wouldn’t see me cry.

A society that can produce a 9-year-old who understands the concept of sacrifice for the greater good must be a great society, a great people.”

Both Kamalamma and the 9 year old Japanese boy demonstrated what is CSR – no, not Corporate Social Responsibility but Citizen Social Responsibility !! I am sure they knew nothing of such jargons constructed by people like you and me. It came straight out of their heart and into the hands of the people. There was no compulsion, no mandate, no direction, no nothing. It was a genuine response to the need of the hour made way beyond their means. With Republic Day just behind us, it is a good time to remember our duties under the constitution as well. One of them is “Spirit of common brotherhood”.

Talking of our great nation, this is what the well-known American author Mark Twain had to say “India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.”

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