“Others have God, we have the Tatas” – A. Ganesh Nadar

A. Ganesh NadarA year after the 13/7 blasts, rediff.com correspondents fanned out across Mumbai to trace the forgotten victims. In the ensuing conversations, a mention of the financial assistance given by the Tata group emerged as common thread. I then set out to find out about Tata’s involvement with the terror victims, came back amazed and inspired. Here’s my report. – A. Ganesh Nadar

Deepak S. BhatiaDeepak S Bhatia’s visiting card does not give any designation, but he is truly the man in charge.

Far away from the media glare, Bhatia and others in the Taj Public Service Welfare Trust have been selflessly going about providing relief to hundreds of terror victims who have been forgotten in officialdom and time.

Set up in the aftermath of the November 26, 2008, bloodbath in Mumbai, the trust provides monthly sustenance or loans or set up endowments to relieve economic and social hardships, to help terror victims rebuild their life.

Following the 13/7 blasts in three of Mumbai’s crowded localities, the trust got hold of a list of victims from the city collectorate. Counsellors, drawn from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, then met every one of them.

The relief package for every victim was charted out as per their needs; there is no fixed amount of compensation.

Aiming to build sustainable livelihood, the trust gives a monthly amount for those who have lost their bread winner. It also reimburses all medical expenses of the victims.

Post 26/11, the NGO realised that the school and college dropout levels among kin of terror victims had gone up. Hence, they now also finance educational requirements — be it the school fees of class 3 student or fees for attending medical college.

Taj Mahal HotelSays Bhatia, “We are in touch with hundreds of schools across the country. We have spoken to the principals directly and assured them that the fees will be paid by us. This year we have already paid for the entire year.”

If the child is weak in any particular subject, the trust also pays for tuitions.

“We also give the kids money for books, uniforms, shoes, umbrella, geometry boxes, pencils, pens, school bag and anything else they need for school The idea is that the bread-winner would have bought all this and the Tatas do not want the child to lose anything by his absence.”

Namdev lost both his limbs in the 13/7 blasts. The NGO first gave him a Jaipur foot. But when they realised that it was not quite helping him, they provided him with prosthetic limbs. He is 85 per cent fit today. They are also trying to find a job for him near his home in suburban Khar.

Besides, the talso offers vocational training.

They trained 60 youth affected in the 26/11 attacks in the hospitality industry for three months.

“Now 55 of them are working in our hotels,” says Bhatia, adding that the same is now being provided to youths affected by the 13/7 blasts.

The students will be educated at Aurangabad for three months after which HR personnel will conduct interviews. Then based on the location of the trainee, he or she will be assigned to work in one of the Taj properties.

One man, who received bullet injuries in the 26/11 attacks, now makes spare parts for Kirloskar tractors. The Taj Trust helped him buy a van to deliver his goods. His daughter graduated in commerce and then underwent hospitality training. She was later employed at Tata’s Ginger hotel in Pune.

Ratan TataFor the terror victim’s family, the trust signs out monthly cheques. The cheques are initially given out for six months after which an assessment is carried out on whether the family still needs financial help. In case the family is still in need, the cheque period is extended for another six months.

“The idea is to make them comfortable and at the same time not make them dependent on the trust. Some 26/11 families have come back and returned our cheque saying that we no longer need it,” Bhatia says with a smile.

Bhatia says many individuals, including corporates and those living abroad, have contributed to their programmes.

Ratan Tata who is one of the trustees, attends the NGO’s meeting once a year. The wives of two of the Taj staffers who lost their lives in the 26/11 attack now work with this trust.

When the victims think they are lost and alone, the Tatas stretch a helping hand.

That is why some of them say, “Others have God, we have the Tatas.” – Rediff.com, 13 July 2012

11 Responses

  1. As usual: thanks IS. Your comments on Hindu rituals were so very necessary. Attacks on Hindu rituals are attacks on the Hindu Gods (=religion).

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  2. @ Dr. Rajaram

    Although addressed to Dr. Rajaram this post is addressed to all here who have posted both in defence and explanation of ritual. I agree with the latter and it is somewhat baffling to find a person of intelligence and training constantly attacking ritual/Agama.

    Yes, we need activity on 3 fronts Dr. R. : economic, military and political. But there is also a 4th front, the cultural. After all, when the last bugle has sounded and we have emerged triumphant we should have something to be triumphant about. Unless our age old dharmic civilisation is intact where will we be? It is on this front that the millions of aam admi Hindus have held the fort. Please stop attacking them and the traditional acharyas, mathams, temples etc. that have made the very existence of our Hindu civilisation possible.

    They practise Veda Agama with due diligence, devotion and dedication. And without such communities like the Namboodiris of Kerala who have preserved our Vedic heritage even in minute ways, let alone the celebration of the Vedic rituals, we would be like every other ancient civilisation that dropped down. This Hindu civilisation has lasted for several millenia and if you value it please stop this criticism of its central backbone: Veda, Agama, its rituals and practices.

    All 4 fronts are required.

    Also, the private charity done by Hindus as mentioned by IS and other posters is equally important. Here again, we need both, the Tatas and private charity.

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  3. Tatas need to be saluted. They are the real Indians.Tata’s ancestors might have migrated to India from a different land or country in the world but they made India their own country and have done a lot for this country. It becomes really painful to learn that people like Mamta Banerjee the present chief minister of west bengal treat them like other capitalist.They are excellent human being and true nationals . they might not be giving slogans of VANDE MATRAM like the cheap politicians of our country but they truly pay this mother land and it is evident in what they have done for Indian Republic. Sir Dorab ji tata once pledged the personal jwellery to pay off the wages to the woirkers of TISCO. How many Industrialist will do that. The labour management relations in tata companies are so great that you will hardly come across a labour unrest in tatas.It was the vision of Great Bharat Ratna JRD TATA that we could have the indigenous Airline called Tata Airlines in those times when Air Traffic was not so much. He brought India to the world Air Map and even after nationalisation of their Air Lines continued to serve, in various capacities ,to indian Airlines & Air India. It was Respected Sri JRD Tata who warned Pandit Nehru the then Prime Minister of our country to check the rising population of our country but he was not heard and understood that time by him and the consequences in form of exploding population is before us.

    In my opinion tatas should have been given a chance to govern this country and in my opinion we would be in a better state than what we are in today. The work being done by the trust of Tatas towards the terror victim of 27/11 can not be expected from other corporates ij India. Only and only Tatas can think and do such things. My deepest regard to Ratan Tata and entire Tata family as a whole.

    I am bit worried that with induction of Mistrys at the hel of affairs in Tata Sons as its chairman whether such activities so noble will continue to be there. I am also sorry to note that JRD had no son and Ratan sir remained bachelor otherwise such activities would have increased in numbers and it would be continued for ever.

    I wish all the Tatas a happy long and ever prosperous life.

    My salutation to them and specially to Ratan Sir.

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  4. When you, Dr. Rajaram, heap contempt on Hindu rituals it is actually the Macaulay in you that heaps contempt on Hindu rituals. What do you know of Hindu rituals? I am one who have been doing regular Sandhya Vandana for more than ten years and I must tell you it is the greatest cleanser of asuric triats in man’s character.And your modern science which you are so boastful of has only hastened the process of destruction this beautiful universe by inciting the asuric qualities in man. I challenge you to name just one invention of modern science without which the world would have fallen to its doom. Of course that is not to say that we do not need modern science. Kacha. the son of Dev guru Vrihaspati had to master the science of Sanjeevani Vidya from the asuras so that the Devas by learning that Vidya from Kacha would defeat the asuras. But how does it negate the indispensability of rituals? For the proper functioning of Rita and Dharm rituals are a must.

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  5. I am a Maharashtrian who loved in TN for 20 years. There was an article posted by anonymous in one your comments site that Brahmins were targetted by missionaries by Jacob de Roover. Even Sri La Prabhupada says this in his lectures. Even though I do not agree with his teachings , he kept the Vaishnava rituals intact. . As anonymous has pointed out the Vaisya community is still the need of the hour. Prabhupada was from the Vaisya community. He gave the monotheists the monotheistic way like the diamond cutting diamond.

    The editor who has replied to N Rajaram is right about rituals, it is a tradition which has to be protected . N Rajaram instead of attacking the rituals should protect the persons who do the rituals, that is true Kshatriya dharma. Protect the desh and Hindu dharma and guard the ritual doers.

    About charity many are quietly engaged in this, This is happening in many villages in India. Even Swamijis have gone into the Sewa mode along with rituals. They face opposition from Christian missionaries like the Vanavasi Ashram ( Adivasi ashrams) Rajaram is not aware of this.
    He should step out and initiate steps to protect the altruistic workers who are helping adivasis. .

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  6. I have not abused you. I have asked you some very pertinent questions and you have avoided them by asking childish, inane questions in return. What are you afraid of, Dr. Rajaram?

    I have asked about your relationship with the Templeton Foundation. The longer you avoid answering me — or anybody — the deeper the suspicion becomes.

    Nobody contests your observation that we need Hindu politics and a good army to save us from the Muslims and Chinese. I myself have supported you on this point earlier. But that has not to do with rituals. They are two different things, for two different purposes. Your attempt to conflate and equate them is absurd. Simply absurd.

    Why target rituals? Watching TV or listening to music won’t save us from Muslims either, neither will drinking beer in a Bangalore pub or playing video games, OR DOING ANYTHING. So why target rituals only? There is no logic in your argument.

    If you don’t like rituals, ignore them the way so many people do. They are not going to run after you. In fact it is you who are running after rituals here in the hope to persuade others to deny them. You are obsessed with rituals!

    How do know rituals are a flight from reality? Have you performed any? Or is your idea just a mental abstraction — a flight from reality in fact!

    You write very good history articles. But that is where your contribution to the discussion ends.

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  7. IS absolutely stunning reply to Dr. Rajaram. It is not clear why he constantly attacks rituals and yes Agama, to which Anonymous gave a fitting reply.

    Your reply is one of the most cogent and relevant defences of ritual in the last little while. You have truly brought out the social aspect of ritual, in the unknown and unsung heroes of our Hindu tradition who do their good work behind the scenes.

    Good question: why did you not send your mother to the packing house to be made into dog food ?

    While I appreciate the work that Dr. R. does in the philosophy of science his attack on ritual or Agama is a sign of some intellectual deficiency.

    Today, we have the New Materialists, a group formed in JNU who are going to have a Beef and Pork Food Festival. Their question: if you can distribute bhang at Holi, why not this ?

    They simply cannot see the difference. While some starving people may kill animals for food, and this can be justified, to hold a festival celebrating the slaughter of animals is ghastly !

    The SPCA should protest. So should Dr. Rajaram, rather than focus attention on meaningful Hindu ritual.

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  8. I am a Malaysian of Indian origin. I follow Indian affairs and I have slowly lost faith that matters will ever improve in India. Till I read this piece. I am aware that Tatas are generous with their money’s to help those in need but to know of the efforts they take to help was a very uplifting news. God bless all those associated in this and all associated programmes.

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  9. Abuse is no argument. I have done enough to challenge the missionaries so I need no certificate from anyone. I didn’t read the comment in full because I don’t have the time and I didn’t find anything of value.

    Coming to rituals, Please find a ritual that will defeat the asuric forces and put it into practice in India beginning with Assam. They have to be engaged on three fronts– economic, military and political. Advances in solar power technology allow us to break the hold of Islam on world and Indian economy. THIS IS MY FIRST PRIORITY NOW AND SHOULD ENGAGE ALL CONCERNED.

    Rituals are a flight from reality. Tell me how your rituals will help defeat Islam without engaging in bloated rhetoric. Where are they now in Assam or Kashmir?

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  10. This is the most ill-conceived, ill-informed statement. It also represents one of the ‘scientific superstitions’ so prevalent today among modern Indians and materialists like yourself.

    You suggesting that ritualists don’t give charity. Absolutely not true. The Kanchi Math for example, an Advaitic institution practising Agamic rituals, has hundreds, yes hundreds, of charitable trusts that look after everything and everybody from widows to dalits to school children to veda patshalas to temples and high schools and poor feeding in slums. And they are not alone. There are tens of thousands of Hindu charities quietly working in every part of the country, run by pious Hindus who also perform rituals. That they don’t get any media coverage like a Mother Teresa doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And they are all non-sectarian and do not discriminate on religion as Muslim charities do (Christian charities don’t discriminate but they have an ulterior motive for offering help to non-Christians).

    The Tatas themselves perform rituals, Hindu rituals to open new projects, etc though they themselves are not Hindus. So philanthropists perform rituals. The Birlas, pious Hindus and ritualists, operate charities equal if not bigger than that of the Tatas. All their industrial complexes have temples on them and rituals are performed. That does not interfere with their science and industry and philanthropy.

    Swami Vivekananda whom you quote, got his grace and powers from a ritualist who worshipped images all his life (rituals and images go together). Swami Vivekananda wasn’t very scientific even for his neo-vedantic lack of ritualism. He was a glutton who died from over-eating (a historical fact). He might have paid more attention to the disciplines of his ‘idolatrous’ master (who is the real example Hindus should be following today).

    What is your motive in attacking rituals? What do you know about rituals and the science of rituals — yes science: ritualists perform rituals because their efficaciousness has been proven many times over by many thousands of practitioners over many thousands of years. So it is a proven and effective technology. Traditional Agamic ritualists do not want to change their technology because they know it works. Because you are blind and insensitive to the effect of rituals (have you ever sat in a yaga-shala for a day?), or have some misguided ‘scientific’ notion about them, doesn’t mean that they are empty and to be abandoned.

    But again, what is your real motive in attacking rituals? Only Christian missionaries and Muslim mullahs attack rituals. Then they go on to attack the images rituals are performed for. The two go together. So you are doing the work of missionaries and mullahs when you attack rituals, following in the tradition of the arch criminal Francis Xavier. Do you know it? Or is your fear and hatred of rituals so subjective, so deeply embedded in your brown sahib’s brain, that you don’t realise that you are doing the work of Hinduism’s most deadly enemies?

    You are connected to the Templeton Foundation, a fundamentalist Christian foundation that finances missionaries in Asia and Africa. They also do charity and if you look at their awardees, only two were Indians and safe ones at that. The rest were Christian theologians and missionaries of one kind or another. The Templeton Foundation has also recently taken up funding scientific projects and giving prizes to scientists for papers and projects they approve of. The TF has come into a lot of criticism from scientists and other secularists (never mind religionists) because it is understood that they are funding scientists in order give credibility to their own Christian superstitions. The TF are involved in a face-lift make-over and PR project to make their obscurantist theology and childish cosmology acceptable to modern people (though they are not for a moment ready to give up their extraordinarily bigoted superstitious religious beliefs).

    So what are you doing with them? Are you a ‘crony’ as insiders of the TF are called. Or are you just another greedy scientist looking for big money? You say you are a Hindu but you are prepared to submit scientific papers on Vedanta and Science to a leading Christian missionary funding orgaisation that has direct access to the White House and probably fronts for the CIA (like the Ford Foundation does).

    Don’t you think there is a conflict of interests here? At the very least, you are engaged in interfaith dialogue of a kind that does not benefit the Hindu Samaj.

    To return to rituals, you perform them yourself so you are also a hypocrite. You observe births and deaths, marriages and anniversaries, all of them by a ritual of some kind or another. You give gifts and accept them, a ritual act even if you don’t admit it. When your mother died, you engaged in some form of ritual in observance of her passing and to express your feelings for her. Why didn’t you send here body to a packing house instead to be made into dog food? That would have been more scientific, would have given employment to some poor men and would have added to the Indian economy.

    There is a theme in Vedic literature which all practising Hindus know and act on. That is that where there is a good intention or desire, there has to be a corresponding action for the thought to be fulfilled and made whole. An intention without a corresponding action is incomplete and void. The corresponding action to complete the intention is often a ritual in preparation for and to assist the birth of the real life activity so that it can take place. So it is not good enough to weep for the poor, you have to feed them too. And if circumstances do not allow you to feed them, at least you must make the ritual act of going out to the roadside and giving five rupees to a beggar (which is not an ’empty’ ritual of course: the beggar does get five rupees).

    So your criticsm of ritual is empty and vain.

    Either you don’t know what you are talking about, or you have an ulterior motive and are in fact working with the Christian missionaries to undermine the very activity that sustains Hindu Dharma today and has sustained it for a thousand years.

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  11. Swami Vivekananda said: “Jana-seva is janardana-seva.” (Service to humanity is service to God.) Only Tatas (and others like the Satya Sai, Anandamayi Ma, etc) are practicing it. And all without fuss or public posturing.

    Our Hindu organizations should recognize this is where real spirituality lies, not in reviving obscurantist rituals.

    (Incidentally, what are the ‘Crown Prince’ and his ‘dynasty’ doing in this– other than running scared and making excuses for jihadis by blaming the victims?)

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