Bombay Bleeding – We Will Never Forget, a painting by Feroza Unvala
Charity is considered to be the act of benevolent giving. A gesture of goodwill towards the needy and suffering. Could there be any doubt that the act of bettering society is a good economic decision?
Twenty years ago, the act of charitable giving was perhaps frowned upon by companies as it affected their bottom line. Today, even in perhaps the worst economy of our times, ‘social entrepreneurship‘ has become a buzzword. Companies are looking for charitable giving opportunities as any contribution to the betterment of society makes them look good in the eyes of shareholders and consumers alike.
But socially oriented businesses are not the only ones looking out to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to bettering society. In large and small economies around the world, the act of charity helps provide for underprivileged classes. With Obama’s vision for social justice combined with green jobs to change the U.S. economy, there will probably be plenty of opportunity in the coming years to align work and enterprise with charitable giving that positively impacts American society.
Can Charity be Taken at Face Value?
But even though in its pure definition, the word ‘charity‘ connotes positivity and humanitarianism, in a world of increasing doom and gloom, one cannot always assume that this is the case. Charities such as the American Red Cross have often come under the radar for not appropriately delivering the fruits of donations at the time of crisis. But even this does not compare to charities that contradict the very essence of benevolence by funding atrocities.
Lashkar-e-Taiba was created in the late 1980s with the cooperation of the Pakistani Army and the powerful Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence to fight a proxy war against India in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Even though it was officially banned in 2002, Lashkar-e-Taiba has been allowed to continue its training of militants, and has been retained as a paramilitary reserve group by the Pakistani military and intelligence forces. In the late 1980s, Jamaat-ud-Dawa became a recruiting arm for Lashkar-e-Taiba, and in villages across Punjab province, where poor young boys are drawn to the jihadist policies of both groups, Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Lashkar-e-Taiba are synonymous. (New York Times).
But the people of Punjab are strong supporters of Jamaat-ud-Dawa because it provides them the social services that the government has fallen short of: schools, hospitals and several universities. Charity…. at its core definition.
But can charity really be considered “charity” if in fact it funds terrorism? What kind of charitable organization works to save lives and better society on one hand yet mercilessly takes lives and engenders suffering on the other hand? Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s website provides 10 reasons for donating to the organization. However one must read between the lines and question if these reasons can be justified.
Like Obama, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa calls for change. However according to their website, they claim that change is coming as a result of the struggle of Mujahideen who “sacrifice their lives for the sake of sobering that drunken hegemon which is intoxicated with the belief that it is the world’s only super power (i.e. America).”
Is this charity? Or blaspheme in the name of altruism?
Image credit: Feroza Unvala. This painting was created by Feroza Unvala to raise funds for the trauma victims of the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks. Find more photos like this on www.voiceofbombay.com. And to make a donation to the trauma victims of the attacks, make a Holiday purchase via Givix.