India ranks as the most uncharitable nation in South Asia. In global standings it is just a little bit above China. Charities Aid Foundation prepares a World Giving Index each year and conducts a study covering 153 countries basing their finding on Gallup’s World-view World Poll.

Factors that influenced the indexing are: giving money, volunteering time and helping a stranger. These three giving behaviors are considered in the evaluation and the global average was 32.4% in 2011, a marginal increase from 31.6% in 2010.

As one can see India ranks little above China that has the worst rating. However, how far should one rely on pure statistics is a relevant question. There are ground realities like a high population in India and China with a higher percentage of people in or around the poverty line. Such people themselves are in dire need of support and are very unlikely to be in a position to donate.

Besides, the surveys may have left out the help people give to their families and to friends. In India, Hindus donate but discreetly at temples and to fund raisers who may not record figures. People from other religious denominations too do their bit for charity. Muslims in India long have a tradition of “feeding a fakir (destitute)” and giving alms outside mosques. There certainly is no established tradition in India of people committing to donate a fixed percentage of their income to charity as is common in the west.

Another factor to be considered is the lack of social consciousness. Young population of India may not have had the benefit of their parents ingraining the attitude of caring, sharing and giving—the essence of being charitable and the basics of ancient “dharma”.

If people are earning more, lifestyle changes dictated by western influences are also inducing them to spend more and focus on the “good things” in life. Giving to charity or donating certainly do not fall under that category.

However, much a person earns, it will never be enough for all that he or she desires in life. On the other hand whenever a natural disaster occurs in India, people do rush in with aid from all directions for those affected. Possibly the global surveyors may not have given weight-age to this aspect?

Probably, India needs a social campaign to create awareness that charity, donations, renunciations at self will and in whatever possible capacity can help bring the much needed social equality and justice. But how successful such campaigns would be only time can tell.

While voluntary organizations are doing what they can, one can point a finger at the government for not giving this area any attention thus far since independence.

This has not been helped by the lack of organized social awareness. The family, as a unit, has to create the environment and culture of giving and then only as a nation can we hope to do more for the underprivileged.

"If you cannot feed a hundred people, then just feed one" - Mother Teresa



Source: Charities Aid Foundation's World Giving Index Report of 2019, Click here

In this survey, over the 10-year period, survey respondents were asked if they had done any of the following in the past month:

(1) Donated money to charity.
(2) Volunteered their own time to an organization.
(3) Helped a stranger who needed help.