would you give away 50% of your wealth to charity whilst alive or in your will?

I just did. That is, I pledged aloud to give away 50% and more of my savings to philanthropy. And no, I am no billionaire. I am just an ordinary, working woman. This pledge is my birthday gift to myself. It is my birthday today. 🙂

It was not a spur of the moment decision. The idea to give away my hard-earned money was made subconsciously many years ago. The fact is, life has been pretty kind to me. I make way more than I need and so I figured I owed it to life to be kind in return. To pass on the blessings. What better way could there be than to pass on what I have received. But it felt nicer to acknowledge it publicly. Like I was setting myself free.

What made it doubly right was that I was not alone in my decision. I was joined by a score of others, all professionals like myself, guided by a desire to give back. Many more are giving it a serious thought as I pen this article—fighting both inner and outer battles. After all, it goes against the very grain of our social fabric to give away half of what we own.

The promisers so far:

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The inequality of wealth distribution globally, and in India is no secret. Oxfam’s recent study makes the differences even more ugly. Of the total wealth generated in the country last year, 1% of Indians got 73% whilst 670 million citizens received just 1%. And the gap just keeps getting wider and wider. And more repugnant.

It is easy to demand the uber-rich should give away their wealth to the poor. It is in fact expected. But why wait for this group to be the torchbearers. Why can’t we, those who have slogged to amass our savings into a respectable pile, be those who bring a semblance of equality back into the equation? Don’t each one of us also have a social responsibility? Why can’t we be the change we keep talking about?

Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge initiative in 2010 was designed as a philanthropic initiative for the super-wealthy in order to create a more equitable world. To be able to make the pledge one needs to be a billionaire and be willing to pledge half of it to charity. Which excludes 99% of India’s population, namely, you and me.

Inspired by it, and more within one’s reach, is Bangalorean Tanu and Girish Batra’s #LivingMyPromise, ideated around Daan Utsav, India’s week-long festival of giving. One needs to have a crore [10 million] Rupees to qualify for this, and like Giving Pledge be willing to commit half of that wealth to charitable causes whilst alive or in one’s will.

Remember, when we were little and we pledged to serve our country? Somewhere down the road we forgot all about it and decided to just fend for ourselves, pass the buck, and turn a blind eye. Nothing wrong with that. It is what we all do. The charm is when we do the opposite. Go against the current. When we care. And give. Not bits and pieces, but large chunks. Reconnecting with our country and its people. #LivingMyPromise is the ordinary Indian’s pledge, turned real.

So, we have an Amith Prabhu, a reputation management specialist who pledges because he has come to believe, “We come with nothing and we go with nothing. We are merely custodians of materials that we either earn or inherit.” And then there is a Venkat Krishnan, a serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, who gets a literal kick out of giving and thinks giving is a complete “no-brainer.” Sridhar Rajagopalan, an entrepreneur, on the other hand states it is luck, and the hard work and benevolence of others which plays a large part in our success that we can hardly call it “ours.” Pledging is, thus, only fair.

Wrapped in my dead-end questions, my decision to pledge my wealth was a natural one, like those of many others. My decision to go public with it, in the hope it may inspire other ordinary folks like myself, is where #LivingMyPromise fitted in.

May I ask you again, fellow Indians. Would you give away 50% of your wealth to charity? And if yes, do say it out aloud. Our country needs to hear it. ❤

Oh, and yeah, happy birthday to me! 😀

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[Note: My above post first appeared in Business World on 26 September, 2018 in its online edition. The original article can be read here. This post forms part of my blog’s Giving Back series which explores giving back initiatives in India.]

are you a wannabe, could be, or should be travel blogger?

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Ever wonder how you fare as a travel blogger?

Recently I designed an online assessment tool on travel blogging for one of the organisations I partner with. It is a simple quiz. 11 questions. But it helps one figure out where one stands. Are you a wannabe, could be, or should be travel blogger?

Please click here to start the quiz.

And if you wish, do feel free to share your scores in this post’s comments section. 🙂

why communication training for communicators?

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[My below post, posted under “personal musings” in this blog, first appeared as an Opinion Piece in Reputation Today, India’s first magazine for Public Relations and Communication professionals, on 20 February, 2016. The original article can be read here]

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Why Communication Training for Communicators?
So we can practice what we preach.

Oh, those endless press releases, speaking to journalists, coordinating events, generating online and print content, making sure the buzz is alive and kicking. As a communicator, much of our day is taken up communicating on behalf of our client or the company we work for.

The ultimate goal is that it is in the news for all the right reasons—seen, heard, respected and trusted. This is what ensures that positive appraisal come year-end, our aspired raise and reasons galore to preen.

Alas, life ain’t that simple. How often despite all our [best] endeavours, things go wrong, falling off the mark. That misunderstanding over a mail, the wasted hours barking up the wrong tree or should I say media house, or using tools and story hooks which our target audience just don’t connect with.

Every day, not in this case a good way, teaches us a lesson or two in communication. Why? Because we don’t practice, what we preach. Continue reading

global travel shot: self portrait, persepolis

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Thought I would do a self-portrait for a change. 🙂 The above picture, hence, is of me in Persepolis, Iran. Continue reading

global travel shot: travel essentials, road trip to kutch

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ramaarya_travelessentials

I am off on my first road trip in India to explore the Kutch district of Gujarat. The first of many more road trips I hope. 🙂 Travel essentials—my canon camera so I can bring back with me some of Kutch’s beauty, my blackberry (yeah, I am not an iPhone/smartphone person 😀 ) so I can SOS if need be, and my notebook to scribble along, jot down conversations, make notes and smileys. Continue reading

goa travel tips

If you planning to go to Goa for that perfect holiday this Christmas, hang out at the beach, chill, laugh, smile without a care…


Do not miss (in no particular order) 🙂 : Continue reading