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The pandemic is a wake-up call for all of us to really look at what is important in our life. We were forced to become minimalist. That is what monks/sages are always. If put in perspective, our hollow normal ways of being, introspection on the rat race which we have been involved in. Thanks to my joining Rotary more than 2 decades back, the early introduction to philanthropy gave me an immense opportunity to grow as a person and a good patriot and citizen. Since this has also supported my growth as a compassionate professional, I felt I could share my limited thoughts and actions to date.

Why Contribute?

Vasudeva Kutumbham - the world in one family- a super empowering lofty Vedantic concept propounded in Maha Upanishad [2500-3000 years back]. Today, we say we are a global village due to technology actually bringing all of us near years in terms of access to information, communication- instant sharing.

Nobel Laureate Late Rabindranath Tagore hopes in his book Geetanjali that narrow domestic walls would be broken and every citizen of India may wake up in that free India. However, several wells off world leaders of so-called advanced countries have in the last decade started closing for political gains [putting up walls, breaking up of Brexit, import barrier’s, tariff wars, unreasonable restriction to those who are less fortunate, fermenting wars] and leading to polarization of the world rather than including all. Taking care of self, then family, then those close has, unfortunately, being understood as the way to be. This thinking for the professional may not be in line with growth and empowerment of practice. It is said that including all as we go along and making a difference in other's life is what makes one powerful, contented, and recognized as a true leader.

Incidentally, there is much flow back in the contribution which could include; the universe {God} gives back (we shall reap what we sow); expand our domain knowledge; build empathy for those who are lesser privileged; satisfaction; builds goodwill and brand. One fact I have observed that in addition to the real affection from the recipient(which has come down over time due to addiction to entertainment), it gives one immense strength and confidence of being a great global citizen.

My day normally starts early with one of the morning declaration/ rededications being to make a positive difference to all I touch and thanking the universe for giving the opportunity to do so every day.

Professional Empowerment Series - Chapter 10: Making a Difference

Option/Alternatives to Contribute

In this article we look as look at various contributions and options, a professional can consider for spending some time, effort, and money in an effective manner.

1. Be a leader with mastery over the subject: This would be important as we can deliver the best service to our clients and guide other professionals. This may also need each of us to control the endless distraction and devote ourselves to educating ourselves.

2. Promote the local business: It is the duty of every professional to enable businesses to flourish in his location, state, and country. Since professionals are able to understand finance and technology, they can recommend how to add value even to the supply of goods, support in accessing the global market. We take care of the business community and gain their acceptance and credibility as professionals as differentiated from businesses.

3. Teaching the Subject/ Share the learning: Teach a man to fish- he would never be hungry. It is easy to teach what we know. Teaching is the best form of learning and getting depth in a subject. The incidental advantage could be attracting talent and getting a good professional name.  This could be in colleges, professional institutes, trade bodies, study groups, etc. The mode going forward could be online which could be done free of cost or nominal cost. It could reach anyone who is interested. Lessons from Harvard and Stanford are available free online!!

4. Join a philanthropic organization: You could follow your heart in this regard. We chose educational support 20 years back. The reason was that in India, we have non- functional learning for the students in villages, small towns, and in Government Schools and Colleges. The usage and fate of the lakhs of crores of Education Cesses collected year after year is unclear. GOI has forgotten this vital aspect and this may be due to all the political who’s who being predominantly uneducated. The lack of physical infrastructure, as well as the number/adequacy of trained well-paid teachers, is very low. Every professional would agree that they were blessed to be able to get educated.

 

One can start early and not wait for a decade till one is well settled. We can start in our neighborhood, support the house help/office staff in a small way. In our office, we have had many undergraduates who joined at lower administrative levels to rise to be leaders and even partners in the last 10 year period. Once one grows, more can be done. The office can support one of the Government Schools near to the office.

5. Support actively Skill Development: Today the GOI has understood that memory-based rote learning is no longer needed. The focus on creativity, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, communication skills, improvement in the English language among others are useful for one to be employable or to grow once employed. If can support any of the above, that would be a good real contribution.

6. Pro Bono (free) Service: India is a land of entrepreneurs and small businesses. The possibility of providing some free services to an association of SMEs could be a possibility. Again, this helps in one own self-development and deeper practical insights into the subject. Online answering with clarity and looking at problem-solving as result can be easily done.

How to do?

There could be many ways in which one can serve the people in the organization, professional, businesses, and the public at large. One could provide only time, support with services already being done for businesses or money. A combination of the above could be ideal. Involving the people in the firm, home, friends, and acquaintances would also be a contribution in itself. They would have pride in themselves as well as the organization they serve.

Our Contribution

The various option above are being/have been done in the past. In short, our firm and I have fixed a budget of 2% of the gross for the past 15 years for the educational initiatives for economically challenged students. We have supported Govt. schools in Bangalore, Sirsi, Jaipur, and Vishakapatnam. Rarely we have used up this allocated amount which shows something lacking from my side. We have mentored about 50 professionals internally and total strangers in the practice of IDT. I personally have answered more than 13,000 questions on the net. (most of them on pdicai.org and CAclubindia till 2010.) Since 2014 we have looked at empowering job seekers and those doing compliance function in IDT. We may have done this for about 5,000 to date. When I went to ICAI, along with the co-opted members and the secretariat we were able to support, teach & skill about 100,000 chartered accountants to take up indirect tax as a part of their professional offering. Post 60, I have one more morning declaration of contributing more year on year to the world at large which is on.

 

Conclusion

This article has sought to collate some possible whys, alternatives, hows to serve the society at large. In this initiative, it is never too late to start. An article [not from a rich family] in our office was contributing Rs.100 per month out of his stipend!!. He is a hero as far as I am concerned as I only started my educational contribution (1 girl school fees) when I was 35 or so. Be grateful for what we have, give and we shall receive bounties.

The author can also be reached at madhukar@hiregange.com

Read the next article in the series - Chapter 11: Avoiding Procrastination


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Category Professional Resource, Other Articles by - Madhukar N Hiregange 



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