Celebrating International Volunteers' Day……..


We are so much influenced by the commercial world all around us that we have forgotten the importance of voluntarism. Unfortunately, the very term “voluntarism” has contradictory meanings to different persons. For one section, it means a past-time activity; for others it's synonym of life. 


Let us understand the reality and beauty of voluntarism through some examples- 

  1. Our country became free because of voluntary efforts by millions. No other means could have bought it.

  2. Whenever there is any crisis in society, whether natural or man-made, it is always people's voluntary contribution that helps the situation. Imagine what would be the use of all the economic strength without volunteers!

  3. There is a proverbial wisdom that even employees are volunteers. Employers can buy their time & hands, but employees use their heads & hearts only to the degree they want to, voluntarily. Imagine the ignorance of CEOs trying to drive people just by using coercion or force. Even when pay-packages seem to work, voluntary will of people is what plays a very important role.

  4. We get a lot of essential services also primarily, voluntarily. For example, if some one from our family members is in need of critical surgery, can any amount of wealth buy us the assurance that we will get the best efforts by the concerned surgeons? On the contrary, we frequently experience that despite paying a high price, we are subjected to shoddy services and treatment in any situations. We may complain, go to consumer forums, fight our cases, but the fact remains that most of the times we get what people want to give us voluntarily.

  5. Of course, there are many, many more examples of the importance of voluntarism e.g. love, friendship, respect, rearing of children, support from family etc cannot be bought. If people are good citizens, they raise their voice against wrong policies, injustice etc. Hence, the country progresses to the degree of voluntarism of its citizens. Fifth of December is celebrated as International Volunteers’ Day all over the world. The question that we may need to ask ourselves is - if voluntarism is the synonym of life and progress, what are we doing voluntarily? Do we always think in terms of what we ought to give in return of money or do we try to give as much as we can and to as many as we can?


If unconditional and selfless giving is the essence of living, are our lives focused on taking or giving? Do we know the joy of giving, going out of our way and giving until it hurts? While sometimes, it may be easy to feel gratified by donating a negligible fraction of our wealth; do we ever feel and follow the natural urge to give our time, our energy and our life to someone who is in need of them, who is not related to us directly?


While it is not only enough to salute the millions of citizens and hundreds of NGOs giving their hearty efforts for helping others and building peaceful societies, it is also time to join their tribe if we already do not belong to them.

- Sanjiv Shah

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