Dr Pradeep Sharma is a renowned senior orthopaedic surgeon who will operate the elderly lady for knee-cap replacement. I have been meeting Dr Sharma since May this year, the time I came to know about case of this elderly couple. And by my experience, I can say Dr Sharma is an extremely busy globe trotting professional. But his politeness and understanding of the issue can humble even the toughest of skeptics. Dr Sharma had operated on the lady five years ago and since then he doesn’t charge the couple his consultancy fee. This time again, when the AIIMS had messed-up with the case to the extent that many other doctors said it was beyond treatment, he came forward with reassuring words that a chance still could be taken. Giving out of the turn time, writing to donors when needed, going to the court twice to appear for the couple who had met an accident in November 2010, he does all this without questioning. The doctor had no role to play in the legal matters but he came forward to extend the help once it was conveyed to him that statement by him in the court would further strengthen the case and might work to secure some financial help for the old-age home couple having no source of income. On one occasion, he was returned from the
after he managed to take time out for the court appearance without any significant reason. But he didn’t react and told me to inform about the next date. The last Saturday (September 24) was significant for the elderly couple as the doctor finally testified in the court. Such a fine person and a refined professional would certainly bring smile back to the elderly couple once the whole fund is raised and surgery is scheduled that is expected next month. He has not said much but he seems to be doing much.
Now let me share the next one. While approaching and discussing the cause behind the case, I came across a known bizarre prospect – the underlying philosophy or the reasons for extending any humanitarian help to the poor, so-called third world or the developing countries – abject poverty, destitution, images of tattered, begging, starving, malnourished children and populace, a laggard education and health care system largely out of reach on qualitative parameters, just to name a few. The potential donor on the other side of the communication was a US citizen, a country the social security cover of which would simply blow out the poverty Economics and politics of Indian policymakers who are trying to put up a brave face in justifying there meticulous calculation of Rs 32 a day poverty line limit.
I had mailed him the required documents with a normal looking photograph of the couple expecting him to mobilize some more funds for the cause. I could not send a photograph with physical deformities of the lady who has been bed-ridden almost for a year now. The documentation was enough, in my sense, to convince anyone who could identify with the cause and thankfully there are people who came forward. But I could not convince him and the reason he presented stopped me to pursue him further though I still intend to work with him – some good development work that he is doing in India. His logic was – there are millions of malnourished children in India and funds should not be wasted/diverted to this ‘well clad’ couple. ‘Well Clad’! It led me to find out the cost and I did it, literally! It was mere Rs 300 – cost of the whole clothing that the couple had put on when I clicked them. And this mere Rs 300 short circuited their chance of getting some valuable funding. This sense of ‘looking down’ on the subjects of a cause reminded me of the many written anecdotes on how the rich countries and if not all, many of their rich inhabitants, thought of the poorer countries. Like Britain wanted to civilize India. Like the US wants to make the whole world as civilized, democratic and free as it feels it itself is and even imposes it forcibly. And so, a sum of Rs 300 could overshadow the desperate urge for financial support to meet the treatment cost of Rs 4,25,000, an amount 95% of the Indians without any insurance cover would not be able to afford as such cost heads are normally one-time lump-sum payment. He also told me I was working on a problem that India would be staring at 20 years down the line. What was he trying to say? He was trying to put his logic for a country that had over 80 million of the population above 60 years of age. A UN forecast says it will reach nearly 170 million by 2025 and 325 million by 2050 - that will be 20% of the population then. From an alien Western concept, now over a thousand of old-age homes have sprung-up in India catering to both financially capable and the needy class. I was not convinced and yet I expect to launch a social development project with him by November.
Coming back to the home turf! The reason put forward by some intellectuals belonging to an organization that boasts thousands of highly placed members across India and is doing some good work in the field of rural education, and, interestingly, the top management representatives I was taking to, were in their 70’s and 80’s – was nothing but an attempt to look sincere and at the same time questioning the cause to put plug on the request. They said – there are millions of such cases and since we cannot assess the need of the need and since we cannot help all, we should not help even this otherwise it will be an injustice to the other needy people. What a crap! Let me have some fresh air. I gently retorted. For me, this whole debate of ‘reaching all’ was irrelevant. Practically, even the most capable of the organizations cannot reach to the every needy even in one country. It’s not about changing society. It’s about listening to your call simply. You cannot correct all but you can begin with one you come across. Why do we come here? What all this existentialism is for? I had a purifying teaching by someone some years ago that had removed some of the doubts I was having.
Three cases! Some important learning! Nothing to be analyzed! Nothing to be concluded!
It’s not about agreeing. It’s all about working sincerely. Expecting a single ‘yes’ for a thousand ‘no’s’ is what should be the spirit of honest fund raising. Be on the way. Be cool.