All in the name of charity

Charity begins at home.. an adage well drilled into my mind. Learning to give and share is part of what I was thought and for a long time V and her parents always contributed whatever they can to help Udavum Karangal, a charitable institute based in Chennai.

Now living in Houston, I hear about this “Moves and Melodies”, a fund raiser for Udavum Karangal and you bet I made an appearance there. The Sunday evening was supposed to be an evening of dance and music. Dance teachers and students around Houston put in their efforts to provide entertainment for a fund raiser. A good deed indeed!

The stage was lit by big colorful and for the lack of better word disco lights, flashing lights of green and red on the dances and in all keeping the stage dark that the audience could barely see what was happening and the dancers kept bumping into the big poles put up on stage to get the lights on. Well, what where the organizers thinking? I bet renting the lights costed quite a bundle, an easy $300 for the evening. Well if you ask me I would say that money could have been donated to Udavum Karangal and would have easily fed, clothed and educated a child for a year. (Yes I did hear complaints from dancers about the bad lighting. It was not a damn discotheque to have revolving lights!!). I heard that Tara Energy sponsored the lights, I would have been happier if Tara energy had picked up a week's electricity bill for Udavum Karangal and paid it instead of spending money on unnecessary frills.

And the organizers did think it was great to have pictures of Kamal Hassan, Rajnikanth, Sridevi, Madhuri and the other jpeg images downloaded off the internet projected on to the screen while the dancers were performing. Well correct me if I am wrong, the intention of having dancers on stage (forget the darkened stage for a second will ya!) was to see them perform and not to look at something projected on screen brightly. Inevitably, the audience eyes are drawn towards the projected image and not the dance on stage. Is that fair to the dancers who have spent time and energy learning, rehearsing to be perfect and pleasing on stage?(I know the efforts that go into a dance performance. Have I not seen the girls at SPAC practice for hours to be perfect?) And did anyone look into the copyright issues related to projection of photographs and film personalities on screen? What is the world coming to.. all in the name of charity?Well for all the organizers could have just catered food, put the disco lights on and turned the projector on.. instead of going through such pains.

Then there was this big one page advertisement on Indo-American news, a local Indian newspaper. The advertisement came out after the show thanking the participants. Well if I were a participant, all that mattered to me would have been an assurance that my effort will help someone in need smile and not an one page advertisement. The ad would have easily cost the sponsors or the newspaper a easy $100 ( I might be totally off on this! I know nothing about advertising in newspapers). Think about what it can do for someone in need.

Is this where we are going in the name of charity? I agree fund-raisers are a good idea but aren't we being selfish and looking at self publicity and money making than charity? Speaking of self-publicity, I have to say this. At the beginning of the show, a 15 minute video about Udavum Karangal was screened, it spoke about its founder Pappa Vidyaakar. Indeed a great man who has brought about big changes in the lives of so many people. I admire him for what he has done. It is something everyone could do but we elect not to do. We hope by giving some money to a charity one day every year we can stay selfish and live a luxurious life the rest 364 days. Coming back to the video that was screened, I was surprised to see Mr.Vidyaakar the hero, if I might say so of the video. He was on every single shot, helping everyone and being the do-gooder. Well as I said before, I admire Mr.Vidyaakar but it looks like Udavum Karangal has become a front for his shameless self-promotion. Every advertisement, every small thing has to carry a photo of Mr.Vidyaakar caring for a pitiful orphan or a destitute grandmother. And it really pisses me off these days!

I admit, I belong to the 99% of the world population that gives money to charities and thinks they have done their bit and yes I am not a great humanitarian like Mr.Vidyaakar but when I choose a charity, I am sure not going to select some organization, that spends my money in shooting videos and renting disco lights. I would rather give the money to someone on street who might even spend it on buying a drink but atleast I know I made someone happy that day instead of wondering if my money was being used to rent lights and shoot videos. I really have nothing against Udavum Karangal, I bet they do a great job. It is their PR that sucks!


Ideamani said...

Great post!!

Pooh said...

Thanks! I did'nt know you were reading our blog

S.Sivashanmugam said...

Treat it as a good lesson of life. Stodio-6 creator too did such a mistake by funding YMCA Mangalore's charity for a couple of months. Sooner realising the truth as you know he is personally sponsoring for the education of a kid. Went to their home(hut to say it correct) took a promise from their parent that at no point of time before completing his education he should go to work. Now he is progressing better in studies. Fees go to his school, he get's his boos, notebooks and uniform. Satisfaction of a life time rather than cursing show off people, think about it.

Pooh said...

Hmm I agree.. but a whole community is donating! The tickets to the fund raiser was $100 convert it in INR and see what it can do? We do our bit! but I just hope by means of this blog the rest of the world learns to see behind the PR tricks of the charities! Keep up the good work Siva! every bit we donate helps someone!