Indian philosophy has always seen charity as one of the best virtues and ‘a must have endeavour’ in every human life – yes, an endeavour that doesn’t expect anything in return.
And ‘secret charity’ is its most pious form – giving without expecting anything in return – even good words – even obliged gestures.
It is the ‘sanctum sanctorum’ act of a virtuous, meaningful human life that believes in ‘giving’ because it comes to him as responsibility and not as liability – because it comes to him as answerability to his inner urge and not as a mean to feel ‘high and mighty’.
Indian philosophy, right from the dawn of its civilization, right from its earliest texts like in Vedas, has consistently extolled virtues of charity (and secret charity). Its scriptures worship concepts like Dana (donation/charity), Bhiksha (alms) or Dakshina (reasonable fee) and put emphasis on their inevitability in every human life and their need for overall well-being of the society – the need to give it back to the society.
Charity (or secret charity) is very basic to human life in Indian culture, tradition and history – and so in every other religion or faith practiced worldwide – be it Christianity or Islam or Buddhism (which emanated from India) or Judaism or others.
Not like the ‘basics’ of Facebook’s ‘Free Basics’.
Tomorrow, December 30, is the deadline to send in your opinion on the consultation paper floated by the telecom regulator TRAI on ‘differential pricing’ of digital content (zero-rating/net neutrality).
Activists and many concerned people, who can think and who bother to think, are up in arms against services like ‘Free Basics’ or ‘Airtel Zero’ or Reliance Industries’ upcoming digital content platform ‘Jio’ that claim to liberate the internet for everyone by ‘offering free mobile internet ‘selectively’ – choosing services they deem fit – something that is highly questionable.
How can the initiatives by these ‘commercial vendors or social media sites with business interests’ be seen in good faith when ‘profit seeking’ is the root of any business idea?
India crossed 100 crore (1000 million) mobile phone subscribers mark this year, yet only 25% Indians are online as Google’s Rajan Anandan says. And even if we are the fastest growing internet market in the world, there are only 400 million mobile internet users (and there are only 150 million smartphone users) – so there is a huge (huge) market to tap – because it is the mobile internet market that makes India the fastest growing internet marketplace in the world.
And that makes us question the intent of the ideas behind the services like ‘Free Basics’.
We have no reasons to question Mark Zuckerberg’s intent to donate his 99% wealth in charity. In fact acts like that are what the world needs desperately. And people like Zuckerberg doing so publicly, no doubt, will inspire many others to join the cause.
But then Zuckerberg could have kept Facebook away from his ‘Free Basics’ basket – that would have simply answered all the critics who are questioning his intent – an altruistic act that would speak for itself.
That was the minimum (and maximum) basic expected!
That could have answered the critics questioning his intent with doubts like ‘why Free Basics is in bad taste’ or ‘why it sounds inhuman in appeal’!
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/