It’s a Serious Business!

 

It’s a Serious Business!

 

My friend and I were standing in the portico and sipping the tea served by my wife, talking over some office matters. Suddenly my friend caught sight of a living entity crawling out of the door of the sidewalk of our house. He stopped talking to me and asked who, the baby was. I answered that the baby-like entity was the five-year-old son of my maid. The baby had a genetic disorder and did not grow enough. The boy remained a bony structure and was slow in other faculties. The maid would carry the baby, while she worked at our place. The boy would crawl and play around our house. Other children of the same age would be going to school and playing outside. I also told my friend that we were financially helping the maid with the treatment of her boy.

Immediately my friend took out thousand rupees and gave it to my maid as help. Then he asked whether he was allowed to take a picture. Inadvertently I said it should be Ok. After a week, while I was in the office my friend came to me and said the boy at our house would get some more financial help if they would allow the baby to be used for an advertisement by pamphlet. I said that I would inquire with the family and reply. I found from our maid, that they did not look beyond a few bugs more, to treat the boy.

After a few days, I got the pamphlet and the photo of the boy, my friend had taken. The photo was used for promoting energy supplements. When I inquired further I found those were, homemade herbal supplements. The circulation was limited to the native place of my friend. I was happy to notice that the circulation did not reach beyond a small area. Our friend promptly paid the promised amount to the boy.

After a few days, I was on my laptop, browsing through news items and emails. A column with a photo took my attention. It was an appeal for the ailing baby. The appeal was, that the kid with so and so name was suffering from some incurable disease, and immediate help was required. Surprisingly the appended photo was none other than the photo, my friend had taken. It was a shock for me. Without my knowledge, my maid would not venture for such an advertisement.

By this photo and appeal, there might not be great good or big loss to anyone but I did not like that some third person took such liberties. As the photo started appearing frequently, I took a little trouble finding the source of the advertisement and called their office. The marketing man replied and gave the address of the party, that initiated the appeal. He also said that he did not charge for his placing the Advertisement, it was as a charity. He also said the party, that gave the advertisement was an NGO and would work on behalf of the handicapped and needy people.

I called the said NGO. The replies were vague and I did not get any proper answers to my questions. I shared the information gathered, with one of my colleagues and we both went in search of the NGO on a leisurely holiday. It took a lot of time as it was not a popular place or organization. The compound was big and there were many tempo-like carrier vehicles parked in the compound. A decent building with the banner “Sri Balaji Seva Samithi” was there. There was also a registered number on the sign board. With a number of people moving in and out, it looked like a busy office place.

We did not reveal the purpose of our visit. It was amazing for me and a big surprise to see a lot of activity. Something struck me. Without hesitation, I told an elderly person, that I went there to donate a handsome amount for a Service cause, preferably children’s education. As I looked around I could see four to five rooms with names on the doors. “Sri Satya Old Age Home”, “Vijaya children home”, and “Sri Sai Education for poor” were some of the names I could remember. Then I could immediately relate them to the vehicles parked outside. They would be hanged to the vehicles as banners.

Frequently I had seen these vehicles on the road with announcements. They would seek donations in the name of old age homes, education for the poor, etc. They would carry receipt books. Surprisingly they would find a lot of kind-hearted donors. They would seek materials like blankets, clothes, etc in lieu of money. I wondered so many people had the luxury of time and capacity to work on collecting charity material for the poor. As I said it out loud, my friend replied that they were all paid employees. I was amazed to know that in this collection of donations, there was so much left for salaries. 

When I inquired about the person of authority, in the building, I was shown an elderly person. The gentleman first got my purpose. I said that I came from America and we as a group would like to give substantial help for a noble cause. I also showed the pamphlet, to the handicapped boy, and wanted to reach the boy directly if possible. Then the man at the luxurious table gave the details. He looked and behaved like a professional which surprised me. He said that the organizations, on display were franchisees of their NGO. This NGO would lend resources like vehicles, people, banners, etc., to small units, which can afford them. They would collect additional nominal charges for administrative services. Because they were registered under the NGO category they were exempted from taxes. All the small units were to be enrolled with the NGO informally to take resources on rent on daily basis. By evening agencies or people would settle the account and return the hired resources.

That old man said, “The photo of the boy you showed, was given to me when a client could not pay his charges. He left without informing me. Since that time, I was lending this photo to other clients. Each time a client takes, two weeks time is given and the collection directly goes to the party.”

He also added that he was not aware of who the boy was. Other resources like the old age home banner, the charity home for children banner, and the truck with people were also provided on rent.

Finally, I asked the old man, whether he would be able to give me the receipt for my contribution so that I would be able to claim income tax exemption.  He firmly said that he would give the receipt for any amount and showed me the receipt book with the proper registration code. After getting all the details, I came out and started back home.

Since that time I was in a debate with myself. Did I find some wrongdoing with these people and activities? People were collecting money from voluntary donations. No one was forcing people to give. Only it was surprising that charity, donations, and compassion have been used to cover a very serious business activity. Compassion has become the basic raw material for a thriving business activity. It is only my wonder now!

             

Vallinath Mangalampalli

 

 

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Author

  • Vallinath Mangalampalli

    A retired computer professional. I like writing off beat themes. Generally the characters are taken from average, middle class families. I have lot of interest in reading books about cosmos and western philosophers. I belong to Hyderabad, Telengana.

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