Mohammed Sharif, the owner of a cycle repair shop in Uttar Pradesh,
seeks out unclaimed bodies, arranges a casket, calls a priest and
gives a decent burial to the dead.
In 1990, police
had disposed of the body of his murdered son after they failed to
establish his identity. "Since then I see in each body a son or a
daughter, sister or brother, mother or father," Sharif says.
Nabhi, a poor tailor in the eastern metropolis of Kolkata, spends a
fourth of his earnings every month to free caged birds. He has been
doing so for the past five years since his sons and nephew were
swept away by a strong tide in the Ganges river on Eid day.
"I feel as if
the birds are carrying my wishes to the boys," says Nur.
The stories of
Sharif and Nur are on the website (http://www.joyofgivingweek.org
) of the NGO GiveIndia, which is organising the Joy of Giving Week
during Sep 27-Oct 3. Its campaign will begin in schools and colleges
"If the whole
country was bound by this spirit to give back as much as they can to
society and the less privileged, lives would change," actress
Nandita Das, who is acting as a catalyst for the project, told IANS
The Joy of
Giving Week is being billed as the largest charity event in the
It could be a
kind word to someone who does not expect it, an hour of coaching or
training to poor kids, auctioning personal belongings to raise money
for the poor, feed the hungry, donate either in cash or in kind or
even attend a charity event to boost morale. But the act has to be
voluntary and free of cost, explained Das.
is a non-profit group that liaises between donors and more than 200
charity missions to raise funds for poor children. It is also the
brain behind the Delhi and Mumbai Marathons, two of the country's
biggest charity runs.
Krishnan N., the director of GiveIndia, said the Joy of Giving Week
is a "national movement aimed at taking the focus away from one's
own self, instilling the spirit of philanthropy in all".
"We as a nation
must learn to believe that we can change things," Krishnan, an
Indian Institute of Management alumnus, who set up GiveIndia nine
years ago after returning from the US, told IANS.
"Whether you are
a paanwallah in Lucknow, a traffic cop in Mumbai, an idli vendor in
Madurai or a millionaire in Delhi, you can reach out to someone less
privileged - by donating money, volunteering time, providing your
skills and even just saying a kind word to someone who may not have
expected it from you."
the campaign has enlisted the support of more than 100 corporate
houses, 80 NGOs, 35,000 schools and 3,000 colleges across the
country. It will be partnered by media channels like MTV and
supported by sites like Google and Ebay on the internet.
"The Joy of
Giving Week campaign will start in schools and colleges in
mid-August," Krishnan said.
Each school will
have to think of a solution to a pan-Indian problem and implement it
during the Joy of Giving Week and colleges will have to host a
cultural festival jointly with an NGO.
The campaign has
roped in Indian movie celebrities like Anurag Kashyap, A.R. Rehman,
Ayesha Takia, Farah Khan, Imtiaz Ali, Mini Mathur and Mani Ratnam
and cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
It has Gopal
Gandhi, the governor of West Bengal and the grandson of Mahatma
Gandhi, as an ambassador.
According to the
GiveIndia team, at the end of the campaign, "one million poor
children in India will never go hungry and five million people would
be clothed and protected".
"It will be a
sustained movement and an annual charity event," Krishnan said.
Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at