Philanthropy does not come easy and usually comes with age and some amount of prosperity. It’s awkward to claim that title as education makes us modest but everyone from Bill Gates and Bill Clinton to George Soros have thrived on the word whether it’s actually productive or not is another thing. But think about it-- less than one per cent of people own more than 60 per cent of the entire resources and wealth on earth. So if they are giving away a miniscule part of it, they actually owe it to the planet and to the less fortunate.

All that we are taught about hard work, single mindedness and success is high quality bunkum to keep us motivated. We are also often told to work to a plan to achieve success. But remember always, you can make as many plans as you like, the only plan that works is God’s. I am not advocating being lazy, purposeless and fatalist. On the contrary what I have learnt over the years is something Krishna had codified long ago: Karmanye Vadhika Raste, Maa Faleshu Kadachanah . Simply put: work hard , enjoy what you can and leave the rest to what He has planned.

So I have no doubt that I was placed in the family, in the geographical area and with the limited resources at my disposal by Him. Five generations of my family has lived in the same house for close to 150 years and has cultivated the lands that made them prosperous. I lived most of my life away from the village and perhaps now it’s my responsibility to give something back.

As a journalist I had unfettered access to several chief ministers and I can take reasonable pride to put it down here that I utilised it to bring some development for my village of 8,000 (in circa 2001) which otherwise would not have been possible. On my request Ajit Jogi asked the Raipur Collector Chittaranjan Khaitan to visit my village Gariyaband and get as much done as possible. We zeroed down on three immediate necessities. The village had a problem with constant voltage fluctuation so a 33KV sub station was sanctioned which improved the situation dramatically and now 20 years later perhaps needs an upgrade as the village population has grown to about 25,000. The old community market in the middle of the village built by my grandfather needed an upgrade, Khaitan sanctioned Rs 40 lakh to renovate it. He also sanctioned funds for a concrete road of about one km length to replace the old cobbled path around it. I am eternally thankful to Jogi for this.

Two years ago My mother decided that the school she heads in the village needed a girls hostel. The working committee of the Saraswati Shishu Mandir approached us to give about 4000 sq feet of land close to the existing school for the purpose. They of course did not have the fund for construction even if I gave them the land conservatively worth about Rs 40 lakh. So again I used my access to request chief minister Raman Singh to help out. He immediately sanctioned Rs 10 lakh from the CM fund for the purpose and today the building has been completed but its functioning has been temporarily stalled by the Pandemic.

I have also allowed the Forest Department to use a five-acre agriculture plot for the development and display of new bamboo variety. By today’s valuation the plot is worth over Rs one crore and will remain unused by me or my family for the next five years at least but it will be valuable for the department as a training resource for villagers. Hybrid bamboo can become a rich source of rural employment and wealth generation, villagers can learn and see the benefits of bamboo cultivation first hand.

In near future I also plan to develop Gariyaband as a base for religious tourism with my own resources. God willing it will happen. Bhuteshwar Nath is the biggest naturally formed Shivaling in the world and is the presiding deity of my village, He may decide to intervene and jog me along.