‘Manifold increase in NRI philanthropy’ Priority Shifts From Religious To Social Sector
Jalandhar: While Punjab has not been able to attract much NRI investment in the entrepreneurial sector, a reason why the state government is bending backwards to woo them during the NRI Sammelan, a multifold increase has been witnessed in their philanthropy efforts in the social sector. A study conducted in 28 villages of six blocks of Doaba region, which boasts of maximum number of NRIs from the state, has revealed that their donations in the last five years from 2002 to 2007 were equivalent to what had been contributed two decades earlier, from early 80s till 2002. “Moreover, their focus have shifted from religious places to social sectors like education, health and infrastructure amenities,” said Satnam Chana, editor of monthly journal, who conducted the survey. Chana had earlier supervised a ground level survey of 477 villages in 7 blocks of Doaba region in 2002 about the funds received and the type of community projects undertaken by NRIs during the previous years. According to the survey, around Rs 200 crore were contributed by them in 477 villages (more than Rs 40 lakh per village) and if the results of study were to be extrapolated, Doaba region (which has around 3,500 villages) would have received, even according to modest estimates, around Rs 1,600 crore in two decades upto 2002 for community projects, said Chana, whose study is to be presented at a seminar being organized by CRRID at Chandigarh in mid-January. While a number of NRIs had migrated in 60s and 70s, their philanthropy efforts started in early 80s, Chana said. About 28 villages were selected at random for resurvey, out of the 477 villages surveyed earlier, to compare any shift in trends in philanthropy by NRIs. While over Rs 14.12 crore were received by these 28 villages from NRIs for development in around two decades before 2002, in the following five years their contributions have been pegged over Rs 11.53 crore, which works out to about Rs 40 lakh per village. Earlier, NRIs had mainly focused on religious places, but now a decrease has been witnessed for shrine development while contributions have increased in education and health sectors. The 2002 study showed that 96% of villages received money for religious places but the share has declined to 75% now. “Moreover, earlier, their efforts were at the individual level. But they were organized now and development committees or panchayats of the villages were also being involved,” the survey revealed. The survey had revealed that most of the NRIs were unaware of the matching grant scheme started by state government. “Their main source of inspiration was the concept of Dasvandh (donating one tenth of one’s income) and the value system propounded and emphasized by the Sikh Gurus,” Chana added