By Dr Abdul Rashid Agwan
The renowned human rights activist and the black American leader of the past century, Martin Luther King Jr, has said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” In spite of all odds, India has evinced its altruistic character during the corona pandemic and proved that it has a majority of good people.
The pandemic has put before the entire world, including India, a multiple challenge of health, poverty and discrimination besides many others. The megascale of the global crisis has been unprecedented and unthought-off. Many governments could be seen languishing in tackling it. When the Government of India and state governments were yet grappling to understand and find solutions to the situation that has emerged just after the imposition of lockdown in March 2020, a lot of people spontaneously moved forward to help thousands of stranded migrant workers and home-locked families in different parts of the country. Gradually the governments enter the scene after almost one month, announcing relief measures. This altruism of common men remained unabated throughout many months of the lockdown.
In the wake, it should not be deemed surprising when the Charities Aid Foundation, a UK-based thinktank, placed India on the 14th position among 114 countries on its World Giving Index, which has ascended many notches up from its 10-year average 82nd rank and a way from the abyss of 124th rank in 2017.
World Giving Index (WGI) is prepared from personal interviews of many million individuals while seeking their responses on three questions: Have they helped any unknown person during the last month, helped people by donating money and helped people by giving voluntary time. India ranks at 35th ladder in terms of the first and second questions whereas it was slotted 6th rank as regards the last question. This is a mark of great humanity that millions of Indians spared voluntary time to help others and made the country proud of its humanitarian spirits.
There is no doubt that a large number of Indian Muslims have also contributed in this regard despite the fact that they were facing the most difficult times in the recent history due to hate crimes against them. Many media persons and beneficiaries have admitted that on the long deserted highways during the first few weeks of lockdown, it were only Muslims seen helping the migrant workers.
Among the top fifteen countries in the list of World Giving Index, seven belongs to Muslim nations with Indonesia topping the WGI 2021. Others are Nigeria, Uganda, Cosova, Tajikistan, Baharin and UAE. Many western countries have registered downtrend from their previous higher ranks. The WGI 2021 gives a general impression that countries with comparatively weaker economies are thriving with large-hearted populations, India being one. The richest country of the world USA did not find place among the top 15 philanthropic nations. Not a single European country could be seen among them except a small Muslim country from there, Cosova.
Indian ranks went gravely down during the tide of communal violence, i.e. 2014 and 2017. This indicates that the rise of violence in any society takes away its charitable spirits and hardens hearts in general.
It is reassuring to note that 55% of the world’s adult people have helped someone they didn’t know during the most critical times of the human crisis. It were 61% Indians who have been so. This gives hopes to the otherwise desperate world.