In India, ‘religious beliefs’, not a humanitarian crisis, spark more charity


New Delhi: During the COVID-19 pandemic, between October 2020 and September 2021, “religious belief” was the main motivator for donations by Indian households, a study has found. He revealed that Indians mainly donated to religious organizations – an estimated total of Rs 16,600 crore – during the period.

The study titled ‘How India Gives | 2020-21’ by the Center for Social Impact and Philanthropy, Ashoka University, was published on September 19. It was conducted to understand the formal and informal ways in which Indians donate to philanthropic causes.

During the period when the country experienced the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, surveyed households made the least donations to “non-religious organizations”. According to the study, they gave an estimate of Rs 1,100 crore only. These organizations include NGOs, trusts, schools, PM-CARES, frontline workers, health and sanitation workers, etc.

Besides religious organizations, “beggars” were the preferred recipients of donations, according to the study.

“Of the total incidence of household donations, more households contribute to ‘religious organizations’ (64%), followed by ‘beggars’ (61%), ‘family and friends’ (9%), non-religious organizations” (5%), and “domestic staff” (4%)”, indicates the study.

There are also other religious organizations, such as the Ramakrishna Mission, Bharat Sevashram Sangha, and the Missionaries of Charity, which are involved in humanitarian work, such as providing shelter and education to the underprivileged, regardless of their religious identity. However, the survey did not ask respondents about these institutions.

Phrases such as “religious beliefs” can also include issues of faith and belief that are more important than religion, societal norms or learned behavior, says study co-author Swati Shresth.

While answering whether the study indicated a strong influence of religion on philanthropy in Indian households, she said Thread“The investigation did not reveal details of what a broad description of ‘religious beliefs’ meant. Religious institutions are defined as workshop institutions such as temples, mosques, etc. Religious institutions may also perform social services or charitable works, so it is best to broaden the understanding of “religious beliefs”.

Interestingly, during this period, only 15% of the 5% of total households that donated to “non-religious organizations” cited COVID-19 as the primary reason for donating.

The findings are based on a survey of 81,000 households in 18 states, covering both rural and urban areas. The survey was conducted in two phases over a period of six months; during pandemic phase 1 in April 2021 (covering responses from October 2020 to March 2021) and phase 2 in October 2021 (covering responses from April to September 2021). It was conducted by telephone (77% in phase 1) and in person (97% in phase 2).

The survey was conducted based on the socio-economic classification (SEC), or levels of affluence, of households. It used five main income categories: SEC A (high-income households), SEC B, SEC C, SEC D/E (low-income households).

The SEC classification was made on the basis of the education of the main earners and the number of durable goods owned per household.

The study was conducted at a crucial time when India was facing its worst humanitarian crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hunger and food insecurity received considerable attention across the country.

For example, during Phase 2 of the study, when India witnessed the second wave of COVID-19, deaths numbered over 2,000 in 24 hours. A study conducted by the Delhi government in August 2021 found that job losses during the pandemic led many people to beg. Many have been unable to regain the jobs they lost during the pandemic and many families have even struggled to access food.

This study also comes amid reports of the Ayodhya Ram temple trust receiving a donation of over Rs 2,000 crore in February 2021, with right-wing groups trying to make it a symbol of the Hindu religion. worldwide.


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