Mast Kalandar

bandar's colander of random jamun aur aam

Thu, 31 Dec 2015

What is Charity?

charity, ethics, phiolosophy [link] [comments ()] [raw]

The naive answer to the above question would be that if someone willingly gives goods of value to other people without asking for recompense, then we call it charity.

However, this does not account for the fact that the act of giving must be combined with some form of relinquishing of control over the goods to the recipients for the act to be charitable.

Moreover, there are a number of people who willingly devote their effort and time to other people. Such acts are also often driven by charitable impulses and could count as such (provided they emet other criteria); we need not limit ourselves to "material" goods.

A large number of acts which are called charitable are actually of the "ganga-snan" variety. The donation is an act of atonement or expiation by the person making the donation rather than an explicitly altruistic act.

One typical form that this takes is where the manner of use of the goods given is tightly controlled by the giver. There is no doubt that those who give to "worthy causes" would like to see that those causes are where their money lands rather than in the wrong pockets! All the same, if you are exclusively controlling the usage, then this is not charity but the personal business of the giver; an activity with no immediately obvious profit motive, but that alone can scarcely qualify it as charity.

To be charitable, one must allow the recipient some say in the usage of the gift. In case of large amounts to be donated to a large number, it may also be a good idea to involve an organisation or people who are known to carry out "good work". This is why many people either give their donations to a charitable organisation or entrust this task to an independent trust.

To some, the above may seem too much like looking a gift horse in the mouth. In my view it is better to do that than land up with a trojan horse or a white elephant!

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