Published 9 July 2009
Tags: Ahmedabad, Anarben, CharityFocus, collectivism, communitarianism, compassion, cooperativism, dictionary, dictionary of ethical politics, donation, economics, ethics, free, free-play, generosity, gift, gift economy, gift transaction, interconnection, interdependence, Jayeshbhai, John Silliphant, Karma Kitchen, market economy, Nipun Mehta, openDemocracy, Patel, pay-it-forward, politics, potlatch, potluck, Potter Stewart, price, Resurgence, Service, Seva Cafe, Small Steps, Tiffany's, Tiffany's box, tsunami, Tsunamika, Uma Prajapati, Upasana, value, wiki, Works & Conversations, writing
I received an interesting assignment a couple weeks ago: write an explanation of the gift economy. Since the request came from my dear friend Nipun Mehta, to whom I can refuse nothing, I agreed; but I knew from the outset how challenging this seemingly straightforward task would be. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously observed about pornography, some things are easy to recognize and yet quite difficult to define.
The essay, now completed, is included in a new online reference, The Dictionary of Ethical Politics, a joint project of Resurgence and openDemocracy.
Continue reading ‘Understanding the Gift Economy’
Published 1 October 2007
Blogs & Blogging , Friends , Service
Tags: Ahmedabad, Anar Patel, Anar-ben, Anarben, Global Oneness Project, India, Jayesh Patel, Jayesh-bhai, Jayeshbhai, Manav Sadhna, Service, video, volunteerism
In October of 2005, I wrote a short profile of my friends Jayesh and Anar Patel, husband-and-wife and two-thirds of the founding triumvirate of the extraordinary Ahmedabad-based NGO, Manav Sadhna. Two years later, that small essay has received nearly 400 viewings and still averages nearly three hits per week.
Small wonder. Jayesh-bhai and Anar-ben are perhaps the loveliest, most optimistic, and broadly inspiring people I know. This is no small distinction, given that I am in the habit of collecting friends who answer to the general description “lovely, optimistic, and inspiring.”
Now, a group of filmmakers calling themselves the “Global Oneness Project” have created a beautiful portrait of Jayesh-bhai and his philosophy in a new video called “Living Service.”
Continue reading ‘Jayesh Patel, Superstar!’
Published 15 April 2007
Tags: Ahmedabad, Airtel, business, Cisco Systems, competitiveness, economy, enterprise, entrepreneur, entrepreneurism, failure, gossip, India, Indian aunties, Indian aunty, Infosys, Madhu Mehta, marketplace, MBA, middle class, MNC, multinational, Nirma Labs, NirmaLabs, risk, shame, start-up, tech, technology, venture Wipro
Everyone sees that India’s economy is doing well – if we measure success by international competitiveness rather than, say, the successful distribution of wealth within the country – and the prognosis for the immediate future is good. This buoyancy, coupled with the gaudy success of the Indian technology sector, leads many people to hail Indian entreprenuerism.
I see creative enterprise in India very differently.
Continue reading ‘The Auntie-Factor and the Myth of Indian Entrepreneurism’
Published 10 January 2007
Food , India , Service
Tags: , Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad's National Institute of Design, Anjali Desai, Arti Shah, Auroville, Be the Cause, Bhavana Singh, gift economy, India, Manav Sadhna, Namrata Siviya, Service, Seva Cafe, Shagun Rastogi
It is a restaurant like no other, a shimmering oasis of the gift-economy in the heartless desert of the market economy. Diners pay what they want, from the heart, so that someone else may in the future enjoy the experience they are having; their food has already been paid for in advance, and they will recieve no tally at the meal’s end. It is a place where the volunteers who run the place, and patrons who dine there, share in contemplation — and the direct cultivation — of service, compassion, and giving. It is Ahmedabad’s Seva Cafe.
Continue reading ‘Seva Cafe on YouTube’
Published 2 December 2006
Bio , Blogs & Blogging , India , Service
Tags: Ahmedabad, Gandhi Ashram, internet, John Silliphant, micro-philanthropy, Nipun Mehta, Oprah Winfrey, pay-it-forward, Ramapir No Tekro, Rish Sangvi
On the CharityFocus blog, Nipun reports on a question posed by Oprah Winfrey on Yahoo Answers: If you were given $1,000 to change the life of a perfect stranger, what would you do?
Oprah received thousands of answers. Nipun comments that, as a believer in the significance of small acts, he’d probably divide the sum into five dollar grants to match the small gifts made to community micro-philanthropy programs like the five dollar club.
Nipun’s reminder of the power of tiny, compassionate gifts put me in mind of a story that goes back a few years, but which is worth a retelling.
Continue reading ‘1,000 Crisp Mohandases’
Published 16 March 2006
Friends Without Borders , India , Service
Tags: Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bombay, Chinnaswamy, Delhi, Friends Without Borders, friendship letters, Gaddafi Stadium, garba, India, interfaith, Kachchh, Lahore, Mumbai, Pakistan, PSA, public service announcement, Rajasthan, Sabarmati, Wankhede, World's largest Love Letter
This has been an exciting two-and-a-half months for the Friends Without Borders. As we make our final preparations to deliver the World’s Largest Love Letter and the first salvo of individual friendship letters from the children of India to the children of Pakistan, it is time to take stock of our achievements and look to the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Continue reading ‘Friends Without Borders: Status Report’