UN has set aside December 5 as International Vol- unteering Day. Similarly, India should have its own Volunteering Day or even better ‘A Week’, similar to the ‘National Youth Week’ that follows National Youth Day on 12 January.
Today, it is the market that drives societies around the world. Dedicating a day to a particular issue encourages businesses to join public conversation around it, by giving them an opportunity to build their brand in the societal space. We have wit- nessed the visibility, acceptance and popularity of Yoga grow manifolds, once 21 June was declared as the international Yoga Day.
The important thing to note is that in the age of social media, most brands walk the talk. If an or- ganization speaks publicly of water conservation, it usually does so by highlighting initiatives that showcase the benefits of its interventions. Today, it is a business imperative for brands to engage constructively with social issues and they have the reach and the resource to institutionalise change.
Volunteering is about rolling up one’s sleeves and unconditionally offering one’s skill and time
to bring about a desired change. It would take several volunteers a lifetime to make a significant dent in many of the areas that need passionate interventions, and a day dedicated to volunteering can indeed help in bringing in the required effort together.
A National Volunteering Day is not about asking people to step in for just a day. It is also about asking for a day of mutual stock-taking, learning and accountability. More importantly, it will be a day, or a week set aside for convergence of stake- holders to deliberate on accelerating the process of mainstreaming and institutionalising volunteerism, which probably is the best way to scale up.
Volunteering is not extraneous to the Indian way of living. Shramdaan, or voluntarily offering oneself for service to a cause, is a part of Indian culture. But culture is dynamic; consequently, so is social be- haviour. Hence, in current times, we may speak of an inherent culture of volunteerism, but our actions would not perhaps bear that out. Building an envi- ronment conducive to volunteering will be essential to reignite this practice.
Authored by Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII