Ours is a charity minded society. 'Giving’
is an important ‘sanskara’ in our culture. My parents used to give ‘dakshina’
to the priests or alms to the beggars through our hands, so that the habit is
inculcated in early childhood.
The rationale behind tax exemptions to
charitable trusts is interesting. The Kings used to rule over a large
territory.During famines or other
natural calamities, it was the king’s duty to provide food grains to the
affected subjects.The distances from
capital city were quite long. Therefore, local godowns were maintained at
various places spread across the kingdom. Local religious temple – trusts were
entrusted with the task of looking after the warehouses and arranging for
distribution in appropriate situations.Since the trusts were performing the king’s task, they were granted
exemption from paying taxes. The taxes used to be normally equivalent to one
sixth of the crop, as agriculture was the main source of income.
Unfortunately, in the present era of
degenerating values, such exemptions are being misused by both – the
institutions as well as the donors while claiming tax benefits. Therefore, it
is now experienced the world over that the Government’s or regulator's approach
towards the charitable institutions or NGOs has not remained very healthy.
Nevertheless, charity still continues and
will continue for ever. Here are two anecdotes:-
There was a housing society. Once, the
children in the society formed their club or ‘mandal’. It was decided to
raise funds by collecting contributions from the residents. There were many
buildings and each building was allotted to one or two children. An innocent
but smart boy collected some contribution from a gentleman. The person was a
little witty. He asked the boy –"Now that I have become a member of your mandal,
what will I get?".
The kid was fumbled. He never knew what for
the funds were being collected. He thought for a moment and said, “Uncle,
perhaps you can again give such contribution next year!”. The real secret and