The FGC Summit 2012 was held at the Trident, BKC on 5th October 2012. The Summit was attended by over 50 First Givers Club Members along with 6 founders/CEOs of interesting NGOs.
The event began with the founder of GiveIndia, Mr. Venkat Krishnan, welcoming the gathering. He shared the journey of the club since inception and reported that over Rs. 10 crores has been channelled to various NGOs by the efforts of the members. He set the tone for the evening by reflecting that people had begun to engage more deeply with their philanthropy, questioning the utilisation of the money, the outcomes, and wanting to do more towards the cause.
We then had a surprise guest in the form of Mr. Mark Schwartz, Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs who took to the podium first to share his personal philanthropic journey. He talked about his search of a cure in the form of Vaccine for HIV/AIDS and how while he and his wife have not been successful till date, the engagement, the passion and the commitment to this cause have produced ground breaking research and findings in the form of isolating unique proteins in the human genome.
The keynote speaker for the day was Mr. Ajay Piramal, well known Philanthropist and Industrialist who talked about his personal vision of Philanthropy and why he does what he does. He delved into the quotations from Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita to emphasise the basic values and beliefs of his personal philanthropy and how he believes that passion, professionalism and commitment to the cause along with personal integrity is key for an NGO or professional to be a great change agent.
To share a few lines from his communication, One thing common across every religion is giving. Quoting from the Gita, he said “When you engage in selfless service all your desires are fulfilled by the Gods. But anyone who enjoys the things given by the Gods without offering selfless acts in return is a thief” and from the Sermon on the Mount, he said “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”
Sharing from the Upanishads the different forms of giving:
- Tamasik (ignorance) mode of giving – giving to someone who doesn’t deserve it or mis-utilises it
- Rajasik (passion) mode of giving – giving to be seen, to leave a mark
- Satvik (goodness) mode of giving – giving because you like the cause
- Divine mode of giving – giving because you are only a trustee or custodian of wealth from God to give it to the true owners of that wealth.
The next speakers, Mr. Shankar Singh and Ms. Sowmya Kidambi of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) were introduced and invited on stage by fellow member, Mr. Mahesh Krishnamurthy. Ms. Kidambi articulated about how MKSS has been the greatest learning and life changing experience for her and how at present she is trying to replicate the learnings in Andhra Pradesh as Director of the Society for Social Audit. Mr. Shankar Singh detailed out the origins of the RTI and how as a response to the demand for photocopying of a muster roll, an entire law was born with community engagement and participation and minimal funding from donors. His song, Sona Chandi Main Nahi Maanga….Rozi roti main maanga….Soochna ka adhikaar main maanga was a reflection of what the poor needed, the basics of the basics and how even that was denied to them. He also emphasised the fact that it was imperative to make the Government accountable and to monitor the systems to make them accountable and how RTI could be used for both these.
Mr. Ashish Dhawan then talked about the education scenario in India and how in his personal journey to set right the education system, he finds himself in a candy store like scenario where as a business person, diverse options are available to him to make changes. He emphasised the fact that education in India has been a reflection of the agrarian economy and does not reflect the Information age. He also talked about how content should be king and how that would change the overall educational scenario in India.
The last speaker was Dr. Sai Lakshmi who talked about the origins of EKAM Foundation, how the work that they have been doing with children who had died of causes originating from non availability of medical equipments and drugs have changed with both Government and Private sector participation and how EKAM has prevailed on both the public and private sector to leverage benefits to these suffering children. She also talked about the design, impact and further scaling up of the programme.
This was followed by a Q & A session followed by a dinner which was attended and enjoyed by all.