Explore this blog by clicking on the labels listed along the right-hand sidebar. There are lots of interesting stuff which you won't find on the home page
Seriously curious about me? Click on ' What sort of person am I?'

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Charity and other things...

There is a scene in Lage Raho Munnabhai where a girl talks to Munna over the phone, asking him how to make out whether the young blade who has asked her out on a date would be a good husband, and Munna tells her to take good note of how the man addresses the waiter at the restaurant. The young man unwittingly does what he is used to doing – because he is a rich man’s spoilt and snooty brat, he snaps his fingers and makes the kind of noise (‘tch tch’) that we normally use to call our pet dogs – and the girl runs, as Munnabhai had told her to do: a man who behaves like that with waiters is not a good man to tie up with for a lifetime.

I endorse that view completely. My experience tells me that to find out whether some people are nice people or not, ask their durwan, maali, maidservant and driver, and ask about them at the local grocery (Does she have a civil tongue? Does he bargain even over a single rupee? Does he pay his bills on time without having to be reminded?). And also find out what their attitude towards charity is. If all the indices are negative, you would be well advised to give them a wide berth – no matter whether they are good looking, rich, ‘educated’ and whatever.

I am trying very hard to pass on lessons from life like this one to my daughter, knowing that how well she will do in her career as a writer, lawyer, corporate manager, bureaucrat, teacher, movie director, advertising expert or whatever will depend in much larger measure on such lessons than what she crams from school- and college textbooks. I have been telling her, for instance, to observe very keenly how people react to a request for charity – at school and in the neighbourhood – because she can learn a very great deal about what human beings are really like that way, and forewarned is forearmed.

So, although I have had rather bitter experiences when trying to collect funds for this or that (in my view deserving-) cause, I did not say ‘no’ to my daughter when she told me two days ago that her school authorities had asked some girls in her class whether they could go around collecting money to donate for the flood-affected poor in Bihar, and she was one of those (not many) who had volunteered. I only told her to restrict herself to the people living on our own street and the adjacent two – that would be enough for starters (she had actually done this before, with friends, but this was the first time she was going alone). I also told her to write on top of the collection list that her dad had already promised Rs. 200 (I have no intention of breaking the promise), and then try her luck. I knew she was going to learn a few things, and I was not disappointed.

She came home with a headache only partly due to roaming about for more than two hours in the sun, and quite a few stories to tell. She had collected Rs. 176 after visiting twenty households during that time. Most people had given her just five or ten rupees, and that most grudgingly – despite the fact that they were obviously well-off if not rich (she said she knew some of them, and they probably wouldn’t have given even that much if their sons and daughters were not my current pupils, or about to be!); some bluntly told her to go away because they never gave money to charity, some expressed irritation and serious doubts about her intentions, one family said very loudly behind her retreating back that she was showing off, asking for charity in English! At the same time, my insistence that she never lose hope and faith in mankind has been vindicated, too: one family asked her in and treated her to mishti and cold water, while another woman, who did not seem very well-off at all, gave her all of fifty rupees after checking that she had her papers in order.

Sounds familiar? Well, it does to me. No amount of book-learning or lecturing from her parents could have taught my daughter more about things that matter in one morning. She already understands, as few of my much older students do, that charity is good, charity is hard, and if you go around dealing with people for a good cause you had better be very persuasive, very optimistic, and have a very thick skin! – and you had better learn to ignore all those clever and plausible people who will give you a hundred reasons to prove that you are wasting your time.


Subhanjan said...

This reminds me of a man who gave his account of collecting fund for a reputed NGO that supports underprivileged and handicapped children. Out of the many houses that had thrown him out, one man asked him to come inside, made him sit on the sofa, and then with the most unbearable tone said to him, "You know what you are doing? You are begging. And I hate beggars." This man, horrified by such a remark, retaliated politely by saying, "I am not a beggar. I am collecting funds for poor children. Thank you for your time and wisdom." Having said this with a plastic smile, he came out and went to the next house.

Tanmoy said...

Dear Suvroda,

It is sad the little Pupu had to face it to learn it. People like you and I would know that is way most of our bitter learnings happen! In a way it may be good but I feel sad whenever someone younger to me and is lovable learns that way. It makes younger souls cynical! Perhaps I have turned cynical despite having some beautiful people around me always. I am guilty of remembering mostly the worse than, remembering the smallest of beautiful things. That is why, I don't forgive anyone who has done one grave mistake by recalling the hundred beautiful moments he or she has given me.

I hope Pupu realises through out her life, what an amazing father she has got as a God's gift, who is so unique amidst a moronic crowd of people and that should not deter her by being active participant in genuine causes.

Having said that, she should keep in mind many of such charities in India never reach the people who require them. I had the misfortune of being associated with such causes and sadly my experiences have mostly been bad. In fact,amidst them I have seen Bharat Sevashram Sangha in their flood relief does some good work of collecting clothes and I have found them consistently reliable in Kolkata and Delhi.

I feel that corrupt systems all around have generally turned people into cynics. I do believe most people (well-off or not) were generally born equal / good (beyond their educated status)but when in every place around themselves they see they are cheated, they take out their frustrations on others. Thus, it becomes a cycle of sorts. I am cheated so in an effort to become wiser, I cheat another.

We hardly trust eachother. If people start self-introspecting they would find that out, that the environment is not of trust since mostly we are trying to find out the motif. As an example, I would like to say, late Sunil Dutt was apparently a very honorable man but his good deeds are questioned because his son his foolish. It is said that Sunil Dutt did all the good deeds to portray his family's decent image. I don't know whether that is a true assessment of his or not but what I am trying to say is that we can't believe he may have been a nice man. This disease of mistrust plagues our nation.

Why it is so true in our country, I do not know - may be it is a misfortune of our history.

I hope someone does some strong research on the Indian psyche and come out with a paper to say why are we like this! If each one of us ask ourselves we may get the honest answer and a research is not needed but alas few would have courage to disclose the same or even accept those answers that they would get since we have already attributed ourselves the tag of being perfect.

The most imperfect nation with a billion perfect people.



Aki said...

I agree, some of the most precious lessons and experiences are gained in harsh times..the essence of water is learnt well, only when one is almost dying of thirst!

And because I understand this, I shall never go to complain my teacher or pay back by any mean, when the notorious ones in the class slander and threaten me, I keep enjoying them...getting to know people..preparing my self in the best possible manner, I'll have to leave for college within a couple of years.
Manoshij Banerjee

Sudipto Basu said...

My own experience with charity tells me a few things:

1. By and large, people do not care if somebody is in danger unless it is not a close relative or acquaintance. I have seen a man donations because the earthquake that hit Bhuj did not affect West Bengal!

2. The young are generally more willing to donate and help. My faith in this statement has been re-instated by two events: one, the money collected for the Bihar flood in my college is quite monstrous (and has mostly been collected as an endeavour by students); and two, a man (working as a construction labourer in NIT, Durgapur) whose son has been recently diagnosed with cancer came for donations and was most handsomely and whole-heartedly helped. I am pretty sure that had the man placed the same request for donations before a group of adults, barring a few oddballs, no one would really care.

3. The saddest part: with passing time, the same youngsters enthusiastic about helping out others during times of need become the kind of callous adults mentioned in the first point.

amitobikram said...

I am a regular reader of your blogs. You continue to inspire with your unique teaching ways. I have had my share of similar experiences whenever I have tried my hand at charity.

When I was a student of St. Xavier's college, during my very first year I had joined NSS. There I found how students and teachers flocked together during seminars... for the love of good food. Those same people vanished when they were required to visit a particular village on literacy campaign. How could they? No food/idle gossip was on offer. Moreover you were expected to travel to a remote village on sundays without any 'gain'.

It is at these times, you learn a great deal about people.



Suvro Chatterjee said...

Nice to see so many comments within a day. Keep going, folks!

Shuvojit said...

"a very thick skin" is perhaps the 1st thing that anyone trying to do charity must grow.
In our office 1 guy wanted to join Devnar a group who help blind students within a fortnight of joining. The statement his senior colleague made was shocking., "this wont help your appraisal". One team-mate said "why waste time". Another asked "Giving GMAT?"
We must doubt any good intention...

On the Bihar Flood i heard a comment which had left me totally speechless. It is their misfortunate that they are in a flood-affected region. Why am i being reminded of a comment from a British Queen

Twisha Mukherjee said...

I have something to ask. You';ve never really taught me, but this is the kind of question I should my teacher, instead of you. But, on the pretext of your blog, it only seems appropriate that I ask you. My first question:
If I meet a man EVERYDAY who has a well-built physique attired in dirty clothes begging for money, should I give him pennies EVERYDAY? It so happens, that I meet a able-bodied beggar everyday on my way to college. I have stopped giving him money last week.
My second question:
Do you support giving money to able-bodied beggars, and thus discourage them to work instead? If so, explain why.
I fear my questions are irrelevant to your blog, but I needed to ask them, anyway. And a lot of people I interact with daily happen to think you are the wisest person here.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Dear Twisha,

Thanks for asking the question.

I may not have been your teacher in the direct sense, meaning you may never have attended my classes, but why should that make you feel hesitant to ask? All my greatest teachers have been people I have never met: I only read their books! I have in mind people like Tagore, Vivekananda, Russell, Asimov and Galbraith. In comparison, all my school- and college teachers were pretty pathetic.

Besides, your question is highly relevant to the blogpost, so it is welcome.

Now for the answer. Although I am careful about giving alms to able-bodied men, I never allow myself to forget that a) it is easy to tell them ‘go and find some kind of paying job’, but infinitely harder to find them jobs – we all know about the level of unemployment in our country, don’t we? Very often we only rationalize our own meanness with such specious arguments. I have heard men smoking Rs. 60 a pack cigarettes saying that giving five rupees to a beggar ‘spoils his character’! b) that an able-bodied man is seeking charity does not demean him automatically in my eyes: he might be doing it for others (don’t a lot of social workers go around seeking alms for a variety of well-known organizations – from UNESCO to CRY to the Bharat Sevashram?) or because like the traditional Hindu monks and Buddhist bhikshus, it might be part of his spiritual practice to depend entirely for a living on what people willingly give – he makes no demands whatever on society (some of the noblest men I have read about and met belong to this category); c) have you thought that even a fiercely proud man may be reduced to begging by sheer misfortune? I have dealt with many such. Imagine a postman or rickshawpuller who needs a million rupees for the surgery without which his little daughter would die. What would you do? I know I shall not beg for my own life, but I will for my daughter’s sake. Would you like to tell me, if I begged of you, that I should get lost and find myself a job because I am able-bodied?

In sum, my philosophy of charity is ‘be careful, but give as much as you can’. And though I am saying this myself, this world would be a much better place if most people followed the same principle.

I hope I have answered you satisfactorily. I shall be glad to deal with more queries.

Kaushik said...

Chary of Charity ?

Talking of charity, even for those who are primarily disposed to ‘give’ occasionally, rather than to ‘take’ always, I’ve seen people generally chary of providing alms to the distant lots, the afflicted, the marooned in the remoter regions from our stay or even to such apparently ‘impersonal’ philanthropic agencies like the Bharat Sevashram Sangha or the Missionaries of Charity, etal.
They would often argue (and frankly, there is also an apparent logic behind it) that it’s always so reassuring to see the smiles and gratitudes of people near-around (the maid, the washerman, the cobbler, the garage-keeper, the odd-errand boy, next door, you know) receiving ‘favours’ – it’s good to see them wearing the same old saris and our once-favourite T-shirts, we so passionately held on to till the other day -the connect is so obvious (and all these folks unknowingly teaching us, in a very limited way, the values of detached enjoyment!) - rather than seeking a relief in the thought that some unknown persons, distantly and remotely placed, howsoever in genuine and relatively more acute need of succour, benefiting from the odd items of our charity!! For them, the charity always begins at home (if, after all, it doesn’t end there too!!)
Well, from a high-point ethical stand-off, we shouldn’t be nitpicking between the two--- both, perhaps the latter more, are in acute need of that little help we should be providing them, regardless of immediate acquaintance and recognition! There is also the old familiar dictum my father used to chant, “Your left hand shouldn’t be knowing what your right hand gave” (and yes, he used to follow it so religiously!!), for you can’t deny there is also that faint expectation of reciprocity lurking in us, when we ‘give’ the odd items to our immediate neighbours for then, the immediacy pays or am I getting a bit too cynical? In such a scenario, it is not ‘dan’ as in the case of ‘sampradan’ –total and unconditional- but motivated and yes, a trifle quasi-contractual sort of an arrangement!!
Well, of course, we’re not speaking of those folks who donate per se to routinely demand Receipt coupons to claim Income Tax remissions under S/C 80 G of IT Act, but it’s sadly true that even with such lucres, the degree of response is always so pathetic!!
And again you’ll find people, quite well-to–do, and may be in our own intimate family circuits too, a bit wary of accepting things with candour and spontaneity, even from near ones, lest they have to give perforce anything in return !! Again, to quote our dear Tagore, “ Sahoj Hobi , Ore mon Sahoj Hobi! Sahoje tui nibi jokhon, sahoje tui sakol dibi”
Also, taking a cue from Twisha, there are also, we know, professional and fake mendicants, roaming in the city (with hand ‘bandaged’, lest they forget the precise origin of their ‘injury/pain’, fake ‘mutes’, holding chits of paper soliciting attention and looking genuinely ‘forlorn’, and even “kachha” worn, tonsured urchins seeking alms for their ‘departed’ parents, for the umpteenth time!!) . We somehow habitually, manage to look the other way, and during such silent guilt-trips, we assuage our consciences by giving a pat on our backs on how ingeniously we laid bare their duplicity and escaped the ‘traps’!!
[Remember, in Tagore’s ‘Dakghar’, Amal, sitting near the window-hole, empathizing even with the visually challenged beggars, (some of them,were, however, feigning blindness, as explained by Thakurda ), could readily retort : “ Yes, I know, some of them are faking blindness (“Mithye kana”)!! But just think of it , even for all the time that they begged, they willfully deprived themselves of the wondrous sight, the vision of enjoying this beautiful world of ours, all for the sake of drawing a little sympathy to get money!! Is it a small sacrifice to be ridiculed?
Oh! how profound (the word sounding so clichéd here) a realisation for our enfeebled, ‘adult’ senses!!]
Lastly, my heartiest congratulations to Pupu for what she has done and to her parents for giving her the right lead and may I learn from them all!

Kaushik Chatterjee

ginger candy said...


In relation with Twisha's question here, I too have something to ask you, in a similar context.

I see a woman begging for money everyday in front of my office building. She wears torn and tattered clothes, and there is this little kid hung on her shoulders, who appears quite sickly and shabby. I used to help her with whatever I could earlier; however, I have stopped doing so recently because of some reasons-

1. First of all, I began to observe that this woman, in spite of having a healthy physique and an able body, was quite content with begging. It might sound far-stretched, but I do believe that the attitude of this woman generalises the idle and lazy mentality of us, Indians. I know, it's difficult for people to get a steady source of income even at the lowest levels of our society: however, in this case, I felt that she could have done something herself if she wanted to. Finding a job as a maidservant, or as a construction worker, or as a cleaner isn't that tough to get, even in this age! It's a popular saying that you won't find a single beggar in the streets of Punjab- and I only wish there were more of them in India. Whereas I would like to help all people who are handicapped or aged or bodily incapable of doing any work, at the same time it infuriates me to see many who don't fall into any of these categories to live their life begging for others' money.

2. Secondly, there is something utterly disgusting with the manner this woman begs- she strikes her kid on the head so as to make him cry, and uses the child's plight as a bait to entice people into giving her money! I began to sense that the woman was blackmailing my emotions by doing so, and that she does not love her child genuinely. So I decided to stop giving her any money thereafter.

Now, I'd like to ask you- Is there something wrong with my pattern of thinking? I still see the woman begging everyday, and it is clear that she hasn't looked for some other alternatives, and that she has chosen to lead her life begging other people for money, and that she has a little kid to feed by doing so. Still, I don't feel like helping her, and I am not sure whether I am being inhuman in this case. I am still in a moral dilemma myself, and I would be glad if you kindly helped me out.


Suvro Chatterjee said...

Dear Joydeep,
In my reply to Twisha, I had said ‘give as much as you can’, but before that I had said ‘be careful’, hadn’t I? I know perfectly well that for some people begging is good business: there was that Sherlock Holmes story called ‘The man with the twisted lip’, remember? And I hear that in tourist hotspots like Agra, some beggars do so well that they hold auctions to trade the choicest spots to the highest bidder! In a more civilized country, that woman would be reported to and picked up by the police for child abuse if nothing else. So don’t bother to give alms to her – but have pity for the poor child, and see how the woman reacts if you offer (not merely suggest) a job to her. I have seen many able-bodied men and children run from my gate the moment I have told them I wouldn’t give them five rupees as charity, but would gladly pay a hundred or more to spring clean my house! All I am saying is that, especially in this wretched country where 62 years after independence almost 90% of the population have nothing in the way of social security (I hope you know what that means in Europe), keep your heart and purse open for the very many unfortunates who truly deserve your help. Some of us may find – as I have found – that giving can be more rewarding than taking!

Kaushik said...

Well, I can’t resist the temptation of recounting a very simple allegorical tale referred to by Tagore in one of his missives addressed to Indira Devi Chowdhury which I don’t think would be quite inappropriate here. The essence, of what he said, or more frankly speaking, of whatever I’ve surmised and understood, runs thus :

It’s not always fair to merely show the nearest waterhole, spring, etc to a thirsty person /Vikshuk seeking water from you. It’s always imperative that you take the initiative of taking a container to the nearest source of water-- pour water into it and offer it in a way convenient to the thirsty person to drink water from it. Tagore visualized the source of the water as the eternal flow of the resource, idea, wisdom etc, endowing the mankind while the container , as symptomatic of the effort, energy, sacrifice, you’ve put in through relentless endeavour (‘Sadhana’ as he called it) to partake of that eternal flow of the earth’s resource and ‘ration’ it, ‘stock’ it for a dedicated ‘personal’ use – the incidental man who quenches his thirst from your water can, only gives you the rare opportunity of letting your individual ‘sadhana’ be used for a higher public and social purpose : so you should be eternally grateful to the thirsty man for having done this favour to you and making you, in a way, instrumental in addressing the collective concerns of the society.

We can always extend this metaphorical message to the realm of teaching, training, resource-transfer, or to that extent, any domain where the concept of “Data- Grohita’ holds forte. And very interestingly, apart from the very important ethico-moral dimension attached to it,even the economists/social utilitarians, have found such individual efforts of charity (or ‘sadhana’, whatever you call it) extremely salutary, thus offering a ‘Pareto-superior’ solution to the society at large!!

Can we have any comments on that ?

Kaushik Chatterjee

BLOP-WoRLD said...

The day before I was about to leave Bangalore for Durgapur, my friends and I went to Cafe Coffee Day (CCD), we ordered for exorbitantly high priced coffee and pastry. A few minutes passed and no one turned up with our order. Just then a waiter passed by, we called out, "excuse me", he did not pay heed and walked pass us, we saw the same waiter after some time, again called out, "excuse me", but in vain. Furious, we stood up and went to him, one of us caught him by the collar and we all started yelling at him, the manager came running, heard our complains, apologized on the waiter's behalf and said, the waiter is Deaf and Dumb.
I learnt a lesson.

Subhanjan said...

Thank you Sanket for such a short but wonderful comment. It makes me feel good to see that in KFC(I do not have much idea of CCD)there are several deaf and dumb waiters who are earning a living. That a few corporates are encouraging handicapped people is a good sign of improvement. We are in a world where the job sector is always in demand for people 'skilled' in communications. These times are bleak for the deaf and dumb. Not even a household will keep a deaf or dumb servent. But KFC encourages handicapped people to make them stop thinking that they are handicapped and thereby encourages them to stand on their own feet. I do not know how much they are paid. But atleast they are able to earn for themselves.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I don't know why you had to post that comment under the weird pseudonym, Sanket, and I have no idea how Subhanjan knew it was you! However, in connection with the KFC policy (I don't know whether such a policy really is in place), I find it shocking that the KFC authorities should employ deaf people and then expose them to constant harassment from customers who have no idea! Can people really be so stupid as well as cruel? Someone should take KFC to court if this is really true. If I were making policy at KFC, I would ensure that suitable notices are plastered all over the walls of every KFC outlet telling customers that my waiters are deaf, and also specifying how they should be called and addressed.

Sriranjani Datta said...

The problem is people don't care unless they are affected. You won't believ it sir, what we saw during our social service week in school. Students bring used bars of soap and donate notebooks after tearing off the used pages.

how much does a bar of soap cost? They spend more money in buying dresses and cosmetics. When they can spend so much behind themselves, can't they buy a new bar of soap for someone who really need it? Surprising and shocking. thanks to the school authourity that they write 'Have to danate a minimum of Rs. 10.' Otherwise we would get 50 p or Rs.1 coins.

Sriranjani Datta.
e mail- sriranjanidatta@gmail.com

Sriranjani Datta said...

There are some mistakes in the previouse comment of mine.
1. I have written the student bring used bars of soap. It would be the students brought used bars of soap.
2. I have written donate used notebooks. It would be donated used notebooks.
3. I have written 'have to danate rs.10.'
It would be Donate and not danate.


SleepyPea said...

The thing that shocks about Sanket's comment is that people would harrass a waiter by collaring him and yelling at him - whether he is deaf and dumb is in fact not even something which concerns me the most. Fine he didn't listen - and he didn't listen twice - but does that mean one can go upto a waiter and manhandle him? It would've annoyed me greatly if a waiter didn't listen to my repeated requests - but I would think that "reasonable" people would do something other than "collar" the waiter and yell at him!

One wouldn't do that with top bureaucratic officers now would they? I'm sure people have faced obmutacious officials while dealing with administrative matters where the official simply isn't listening to what you're saying (I know I have), and it has nothing to do with the official being physically handcapped (!) - does that mean I haul myself over the counter and collar the person and yell in his face?
I'm sure I would've liked to do that at times - but I haven't. And nor do I suspect have other folks. So how do things change when the person is a waiter instead of being an official?

I definitely will physically assault someone if that person is the first to instigate violence against me or the people I'm with -but how can customers going to expensive places assume that a waiter can be immediately physically assaulted for "not listening"?

Extrememly disturbing account. And yes Suvro da I more than completely agree - it's appalling to think that these places don't make it very clear that they have hired people who have physcial handicaps. It is both stupid and cruel, and many other things besides. Reminds me of what you wrote in your essay on India.


I should first apologize for commenting late though I had gone through this post earlier.
Since I am working with an NGO I would hereby like to throw light on certain utterly disgusting experience of mine.We had made a strategy to collaborate with the corporate giants for funding our organization.The half of the corporate giants like three of the huge private banks, IBM, Hindustan Petroleum were visited with documents ,proof and presentation of the exact work my organisation does but none of them turned up. Instead I encountered a shocking question. My NGO works for the mentally challenged adults and children.When I tried to persuade them on basis of charity they asked me what "yield" would be there from "mad" people{mark the language from the CEO whom I found held a list of degrees from the A-listed institutes of the country}.The other organisations which I visited claimed an immediate receipt for Income Tax remissions under S/C 80 G of IT Act. About maintaining a thick skin, I would also like to relate about a corporate manager who offered me the post of assisstant manager in corporate marketing in his company then giving me a coin for charity.
Instead when I visited schools I found better interests if not better funds .I had to rely on the thought process of the parents though the children wanted to give more .In this context I would also like to add my own experience in one of the best schools in Durgapur where even teachers gave half a cake of used soap after much persuasion in the social service week.
Recently I met a muslim trader {earning some hundreds a month from the scraps he collects from my factory} in my factory where I found him donating a thousand rupee note to a beggar .When asked, he told me according to The Quran a muslim was supposed to donate for every saving or property he made for himself.Well not to go into religious contexts I wanted to pick up the fact that this man's humanity was more spiritual and close to God then any of the religions.
One more aspect of charity which I have seen in everyday life may not come into notice.We often come across people donating a coin or half a pice to an ailing beggar or a rich man’s wife throwing of a coin out of her car’s window to the poor wretched soul on the road.One of my colleagues does the same thing out of a sheer feel good factor which otherwise helps him to maintain his day’s work very fruitful.Should we call this charity?

Suvro Chatterjee said...

If you read that post of mine very carefully once over again, Ananya, you will see why I used the event as a learning experience for my daughter. The more 'educated' and 'successful' Indians are, as a rule, the more crude, callous and heartless they become: and my daughter needs to keep that in mind while negotiating her way through the world, in all walks of life. It is my my firm conviction that this country can expect nothing good from its 'educated' citizenry, no matter how 'technically qualified' they are, whether it is in engineering or medicine, law or management or whatever.

Sayan Datta said...

Sudipto's last point was most interesting. While it was heartning to learn about the funds collected for the Bihar floods and for the man who needs money for treating his son, I cannot but cast a small aspersion. Having been to college myself (and having lived in hostel for four years), I can vouch for the fact that I know the average college goers mentality inside out. These fund collection events are made possible only because of the enthusiasm and labour of a handful of students. The vast majority do it unwillingly and out of compulsion (just because peers are doing it.... and perhaps to avoid cynical remarks), no one really has any 'real' intention of doing charity; and some do it because it makes them look good in the eyes of friends (akin to Dinotar abhiman maybe); and lastly because it's Dad's money (so ,it doesn't really matter to them whether they spend on cigarettes, movies or 'charity'.) I would really like to see these people spending a part of their own hard-earned money for charity when they grow up.
That, I think, might explain why they don't show the same kind of enthusiasm when they turn into adults. That might also say a few things on whether they ever had any enthusiasm at all, ever!
I hope I have not been wrongly understood
Sayan Datta.