Sunday, November 01, 2015



Benevolence is an act of kindness or a desire to be kind. It's the quality of someone who volunteers in a freemeals service centre, teaches children for free and helps senior citzens cross the street. Nearer home, helping your grandmother with her provisions for the kitchen is an act of benevolence — as long as it is ‘gratis’. Giving your little brother or sister the last helping of an ice cream cone or bar of chocolate shows benevolence. Benevolence is any kind act, but it can also describe the inclination to do good things. If you think of yourself only, it is unlikely that you will be benevolent. But if you can change that attitude and think of doing good to others besides yourself you are a benevolent person. You must also have a social conscience. You can then help towards transforming your society, your nation and the world at large. This is what the author conveys in this book.

The author Sri A R Chandrasekar raises a very critical question through the title of this unique and remarkable book. And answers the question he raises in its 259 pages. He highlights the importance of doing good to others and at the same time of taking care of one’s self. The two have to go hand in hand for the benevolence movement to be sustainable.

We cannot have islands of prosperity for long when the majority of the world population is poor. Maximum wealth is concentrated in the hands of 10% of the worlds’s population. More than 3 billion people live around poverty line conditions.We see that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The excess money flow to the rich has to be restricted. How long can this societal imbalance continue? Surely, not for long. Strife, disputes, rebellions, wars are all fought for dominance of one group over another. The rich consume disproportionate percentage of natural resources in comparison to the poor. Like individuals, this applies to nations as well. Natural resources are depleting and a time will come when the natural resources will get completely exhausted. We have to arrest this situation and make our society, our nation and the world at large a safe and happy place to live in. Selfishness, greed, etc must be replaced by kindness, caring, sharing, and love. Current societies must change from being consumption-driven to care and love-driven. The young and the old who are both vulnerable sections of societies must be protected and made to live happily. The young have to be nurtured with the right thoughts and the old insulated from disease, loneliness and deprivation. People must live connected and care for one another. The author is 79 years old but his age has not diminished his passion to correct this societal imbalance. He formed a Trust  in 2012 to covert his passion into a mission. Thus was born the ‘Mission Benevolence’ at Bengaluru.

The book has ten chapters. After describing the idea behind writing the book in the first chapter, in the next six chapters (pages 15 to 104), which is almost half the book, the author dwells on what benevolence means, why we should make it our choice, the need to create and develop benevolent people and societies around us, how emotions can be handled benevolently and the idea of benevolence in love, marriage and family life. The last three chapters are devoted to the idea of personal wealth, income inequalities, the need for generating social consciousness required for benevolence and volunteering and what needs to be done to correct the income imbalance and inequality and eliminate the destruction of scarce natural resources and improve sustainability of the planet earth for future generations. We need good governance and it requires continuous monitoring by the people as well says the author. Further,  India has an unrivalled youth demographic: 65% of its population is 35 or under, and half the country's population of 1.25 billion people is under 25 years of age.
The youth of the country must be developed to ensure well-being and prosperity of our country.

While reading this book, I was reminded of a similar movement called TZM (The Zeitgeist Movement) which was founded in 2008. According to the founders of this movement,the evils of modern society have come about because of disproportionate accumulation of resources in the rich countries and the financial enslavement of the poorer countires which remain deeply in debt. It gives a clarion call to come out of these shackles and build a sustainable world of goodwill,trust,love and caring with due repect to nature and the environment. The Zeitgeist Movement has no allegiance to any country or traditional political platforms. It views the world as a single system and the human species as a single family (vasudhaiva kutumbakam). It recognizes that all countries must disarm and learn to share resources and ideas if we expect to survive in the long run.

The book is very readable and written in a cogent style. The author gives many a illustrations for building benevolent people and societies, developing social consciousness  and improving sustainability. The youth in particular will greatly benefit by reading this book.