By Humra Laeeq
India climbs up the global index
India reached a new level of social amiability when it entered the top 100 list of the most generous countries in the world. A developing country which is still thought of as the ‘third world’ is the second biggest contributor at United Nations just below the United States. A survey report released by Charity Aids Foundation (CAF) gave the statistics of Indians actively helping out in generous efforts—265 million alone donated money to charity along with improvements in people helping by volunteering for social welfare. As a result, India’s ranking raised from 106th to an impressive 91st. Of the 8 South Asian countries, India is ranked 6, just above Pakistan and Bangladesh. As a response, CAF India Chief Executive Meenakshi Batra commented, “India has a fabulous tradition and culture of giving and it is great news that India is becoming more generous over time.” Myanmar tops the CAF World Giving Index, followed by the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
How accurate is this measure?
The Charity Aids Fund is an international non-profit organisation which promotes the acts of giving and philanthropy. The CAF releases the World Giving Index—a comparative ranking of more than 140 countries representing about 95% of the world based on how ‘generous’ they are. The index is published annually a month prior to 29th November, the global day of giving, when people are encouraged to donate time, money or service to a good cause. The ranking is dependent on three parameters—helping a stranger, volunteering and donating money. Due to the tripartite judgment, ranking becomes complex and can prove to be disadvantageous for countries like India. The nation dropped 15 places when assessed on the basis of people helping out a stranger, due to which India is stuck at 91. In the absence of this parameter, the country could have fared better.
Problem with the surveys?
Another problem arises when the survey is taken in terms of percentage of the total population. In that regard, India performs poorer than Nepal and Afghanistan. The co-founder of Dasra, a philanthropic organization, Neera Nundy says it is unfair to assume the homogeneity of the Indian population. A large chunk of Indians live under the poverty line and also constitute the sample for the survey. For a fairer assessment, the survey should sample the middle class who have spare income to donate and volunteer. It would be wrong to assume that the poorer class in unrelenting to give especially when it is incapable of doing so. At the same time, the ultra-rich can be capable of more charity but are still counted as singular units just as a below-poverty-line labourer would be. The imbalance of representation can be highly misleading.
A judgment of this nature needs to be more nuanced. Charity or the act of giving is not a legal or a political obligation that must include each and every individual. Charity is a majorly social act which stems from people making a selective choice whether they want to give it or not. This is psychologically determined by the extent to which they first satisfy their own economic needs before producing a surplus. While such totalising surveys do help in making sense of prevalent social conditions, they can be misleading when they under-represent some sections of the society while over-representing those who do not need to be there. What is required are more nuanced and socially sensitive procedures that help us better understand our world.
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