Dont start an NGO, start a GO

by plainspeak

Well, I have always been thinking of how I can be of some help to those around me, and I have seen many many people who help others. Like, one day, a guy came and asked for some money for CRY. I told him that even though I felt they were doing good work, I wasn’t in that good an economic condition to contribute(Recession times you see). But the actual reason was something else. How do I ensure that the money I give will be used properly. How do I know what they are doing is the most important thing to be done?. Is rescuing children more important than treating the sick, or saving trees from being cut, or burying the unclaimed bodies, or is it organ donation. I wondered how people choose the area in which they want to work. I realized that the people who do social service are the people who have lost something very precious, and so they have nothing more to lose. If they had anything to lose which they found valuable , they would be spending their time and energy on saving it. Like people who think money is most important , they will always think of how to reduce tax, evade tax, etc. Like how , you and me think of how to stay put in our jobs in these recession filled times. But, people who have lost what they consider the only thing that counts for in their life will do social service, since there is nothing valuable that they need to save. Like this mother who loses her child say to some muscular dystrophy, she will try to do awareness on how people with terminal illness, can do organ donation. Like this man who couldn’t bury his child, cremates all bodies which are unclaimed(There was n show in CNN-IBN called, the “Reliance Real heroes, in which I saw these people). Like how people who don’t have children are amazingly sweet to children. But, of course, there are those who renunciate everything, even though they haven’t lost anything, and do social service, they are the ones who are really great. Like Mother Theresa, Mahatma, Vivekananda, etc. But, is it just that they realize that the most precious thing for them is the service to humanity. Whatever.

The point is what is the best way to serve others. Which field to choose, if you haven’t lost anything, or even if you have. I saw these amazing lectures or talks on TED. They showcased the prime things that can be done to alleviate poverty , disease, protect environment etc. Like this lady who said that the way to prevent AIDS is to increase life expectancy by preventing malaria, etc. Like this lady in MIT who was doing research on how to convert firewood to high calorific fuel, which can drastically reduce the forests which are being cut for fuel.

The point is , after seeing these videos, I felt that if anybody wanted to do something for others, they should invest in such prime research, which has such a wide area of influence.

But then, after some time, I realized something. If 1 billion dollar is used for such research , hundreds of billions of dollars are wasted because of corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy and political class. When we try to optimize the code we are trying to write, we see which part of the code is the one which is taking lot of clock cycles, and try to optimize that . So, when I see the problems being faced in India, and the developing world, I can’t but notice the billions which are getting drained because of corruption, inefficiency and bad planning which in turn lead to all sorts of problems like bad healthcare, poverty , unemployment , poor infrastructure, child labor, unclaimed bodies etc.

So, the one and only one thing a person has to do to serve the society is to involve oneself in the public sphere, i.e to vote for the best person. But, wait, wait. There are no good people in the fray. This brings to mind one amazing quote by Azim Premji, or by somebody else. He said that “In every problem, lies an opportunity”. So, if there are no good leaders, you contest. Till such a time you find a better leader in your constituency, you contest.

So, the mother of all solutions is to vote for the best , and if no one is good, stand yourself.