Giving As An Expression Of Gratitude
Giving back to the culture and civilisation we come from while giving forward to communities to build a better world is not an act of greatness or kindness but an offering of gratitude!
None of us are ever self-made!
We all stand on the shoulders of people and ideas before us…our parents, business leaders (who’ve been-there-done-that), friends, mentors and coaches. Standing on their shoulders we are given an opportunity to see farther than what they saw. Building upon the foundations of what they achieved (or did not) we get an opportunity to define our lives.
It’s the same with businesses
All businesses are able to grow because of the nurturing cultural, economic and even civilisational environment they are born in. For instance, Sony and their intense cultural-rootedness in Japan.
This impressive story of global success was only possible through a unique vision that was influenced a lot by Japanese habits and culture, by the way of operating and doing things “the Japanese way”. ~ https://www.grin.com/document/107610
It doesn’t end with valuing and crediting the culture. Some companies actively look at their work as part of a nation-development project. In the iconic book “Built to Last” Jim Collins recalls that among the top-10 charter points for Sony was to ‘ To elevate the Japanese culture and national status’ (after being devastated in WWII).
When Srijan was in inception stages, i as its founder, was also determined to work for India and Indian culture and spiritual civilisation finding the respect it so deserves. Srijan was always meant to be a tool for achieving this. India is a modern nation-state to some, while to others such as myself, it is a modern version of an ancient continuing civilisation and values.
Giving back to ‘Open Source’ Communities
Early on in Srijan’s life we had a tryst with open source software. Our jaw-dropped in awe and inspiration learning that there are communities of software developers globally who create great software in their free time and release the source code ‘for free’ for use by others in the world.
We latched on and networked with the Linux community in India. Hosting iLug-Delhi (iLug-D) meetings to supporting events (via funding) to helping with marketing and evangelism — we made this an integral part of our business model early on in 2003. Srijan became the top-choice for open source geeks to work and consult at since then.
Even today, Srijan is one of the largest contributors to Drupal globally. We try and maintain our Top-10 global ranking via code, sponsorship and marketing contributions.
School of Happiness (SoH)
Since the year 2006 we have been fully funding the operations and functioning of School of Happiness, a free after-school for kids from under-privileged backgrounds. This is run in an urban-village area in New Delhi. We support the funding of this school via an intermediary charitable trust run by an independent set of trustees including myself.
Here is a video film titled “Khwabon Ki Udaan” (Flight of Dreams) made by the boys and girls of this school:
Giving forward to Non-Profits in India and Abroad
Sometimes we end up supporting our non-profit customers as well. Over the years we have offered heavy discounts to non-profits in India and around the world. At other times, like in the case of our long-standing customer — Crohns & Colitis Foundation, USA — we are active annual donors.
In India, once again via my non-profit trust, we support several non-profits especially those engaged in informal learning of kids from poor families living in cities or in tribal areas in rural India. The support is extended under recurring monthly financial support or/and one-off support based on project needs. Here are some wonderful individuals and organisations supported through our financial assistance:
- ‘Saakar Sewa Samiti’ run by Temsutola Imsong
- ‘Abhedya’ a school in a tribal village cluster outside Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh
- Aarohan Learning Center: Aarohan Learning Center in East Delhi run by Raghav Gajula, an IIT-D Alumni now working in the Railways
Experiments with ‘Seedballs’ for Reforesting
Inspired by an initiative by some western ecologists in using ‘seedballs’ for reforesting the world’s beaches, we sponsored a project to build a (rather rudimentary) prototype of a ‘von-Bachmayr Drum’ for making seedballs folloed by another experiment to directly seed the ground.
Over years Srijanites have regularly participated as volunteers assisting school-kids during tree-plantation drives at the Aravali Biodiversity Park in Gurugram. The heavily mined site is now a thriving native-forest. A must visit!
7% of annual profits routed non-profit work
My Guru, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, started a ‘7% Ishanga’ program some years back. His appeal to all his devotees and Sadhaks (Seekers / Yogis) of Isha Foundation was that they donate 7% of their annual income or business profits to Isha thus enabling the organisation to carry forward its work of spreading Yoga throughout the world.
We pay a huge income tax in India — typically in high income categories it can be anything from 30% to 43%. Donating 7% was another big leap of faith for me, although there are some tax-benefits that get accrued because of tax-benefits under non-profit donations.
Back then i decided to take the leap. And both at my personal as well as at Srijan’s level. Hence, 7% of my annual compensation + 7% of average past-3 years annual profits of Srijan, i decided, would be routed for non-profit work. I donate 7% of my post-tax compensation to Isha. And route 7% of Srijan’s profits to the non-profit i founded in 2006 for carrying forward Dharmic work.
In India, companies above a certain size or profit-base are mandated to spend 2% of their profits in CSR activities. Srijan started with much more and also voluntarily.
Giving must not seen as an obligation and neither as an act of greatness or kindness.
Giving is to be seen as an act of gratitude — a deep self-awareness that what i have today is not only because of my smarts and guts but also, or mostly, because of the nurturing that Life offered to me!