Relevance of Volunteering
“Daanam” (as mentioned in the Upanishads) or the spirit of volunteerism is very much part of the Indian civilization, culture and history. Concepts of volunteerism such as “Nishkam Karma” (self-less or desire less action) among Hindus, “Kar Seva” (voluntary labour for the common good) among Sikhs, and “Zakat” (alms-giving) among Muslims, are examples of volunteering practiced in different religions in India. Therefore, it is evident that the spirit of giving and sharing runs in the genetic code of many Indians, through generations of traditions and customs which nurture & practice volunteerism.
The Salt Satyagrah, Quit India Movement and Chipko Movement have all been the much talked about examples of voluntary acts of groups of people towards a cause. But India also has the lessor known examples such as Mohammed Saif, from Kerala, who is changing lives through palliative care and entrepreneurial training; Hutoi H. Chophy, from Nagaland, who is fighting against drug abuse and its ill effects; Gaurav Gaur from Chandigarh, a former NYKS and NSS volunteer who continues his mission to eradicate HIV/Aids. These individuals, in their respective capacities are patrons of change that the society needs in today’s day & age.
Gandhiji’s Mantra to our nations was - “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. He believed that selfless service or volunteerism by every citizen would allow India to counter many perils and evils. Volunteerism has been recognized the world over as being a major contributor to peace and development. People engage in volunteerism for a great variety of reasons: to help in eliminating poverty, to improve basic health and education, to provide safe water supply and adequate sanitation, to tackle environmental issues and climate change, to reduce the risk of disasters and to combat social exclusion and conflict. Volunteerism also forms the backbone of many national and international non-governmental organizations. It is present in the public sector and is increasingly a feature of the private sector.