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2Give or !2Give a happy new year.

An excellent question gets asked at any alumni meeting , whenever the subject of "giving" comes up:

"what is the problem@Univ-FOO that we are trying to solve".

Many detailed questions are asked about whether money is well invested, of course necessary. Many observations are done about whether the current process is conducive to utilizing the funds effectively.

Instead, one way to look at this for ANY educational institution is:

 "We should stand head to head among the world's most innovating, business creating, value generating institutions of learning".

Are we there yet? Will being in the top#100 world universities serve that goal? Are we generating far more value for the govt. investment on us, than any other equivalent average institution of learning?

I strongly believe many alumni of every great institution do create asymmetrical value. They also create businesses. They also innovate. But is that all we can do?

A lot of us use our brains to serve our masters. Some of us are the masters of our own businesses. Some, who prefer to teach after they graduate, are gifted in giving education -- the most valuable giving of all things, and are already ahead of the pack in giving.

The giving section of our brain, the collaborating-with-our-batch section of our brains, and the "help our Alma Mater unconditionally" part of our brains -- have a lot of potential.

Without "unconditional education", Takshila and Nalanda wouldn't have placed India on the world map centuries before others.

Without "unconditional basic services/trust", businesses won't have outside help.

Without "unconditional giving", society will not bootstrap itself out of poverty and disenfranchisement.

Without "unconditional dreaming", a country won't have leaders.

Does one, therefore, contribute, or not? Invest or Give?

We see our contribution as investment if we want "returns" on our money. This is low risk to our money, but this approach necessarily diverts the money to what causes we find worthy. There is nothing wrong with that, but when it comes to alumni, no one single person can agree with another on what is "appropriate lever of funding" or what project is "appropriate for funding". We may land into long arguments or discussions and debates on which is the best set of investment. This is left to the Fund managers or the managers of the Corpus. Ultimately, the ground reality is that there are far more projects than money.

However, if see our contribution as "giving" if we are prepared to see it go down the drain, or make a big difference -- long after we are past our twilight years -- then, and then alone, is it a different level of trust. This is the "long" game.

Mothers have perfected this trick or magic: unconditional, positive, giving. Public colleges, examples like IITs in India and the US state universities, are similar at least as far as education is concerned. State funds these institutions as an investment, but teachers fill the students in acts of giving, giving knowledge without regard to how much more the student will make out of it.

If we look at education as our birthright based on our talent and hard work, yes, investing seems more like a good strategy.

But if we look at our Alma Mater as something which grew us into what we are, giving us whatever possible -- the thought box becomes a prism, and the light changes color.

In a world of 99% - a kid who has no hope of getting out of their poverty/disenfranchisement/environment can go to a great institution and be inspired forever. They will never be able to do that without someone giving the gift of education to them first.

When that institution asks

When a mother or father falls 
    into hard times/illness, 
we first get them well, 
  then ask if it was the right treatment. 

We all make mistakes, 
  but then do iterate.
Right now, we don't know 
 whether it is one of many things:

ageing, finance, personal upkeep, 
 some form of autoimmune flare-up, 
congenital disorder, basic environment,
   or our own flight from their nest.. 

what we all seem to see 
   is that help is needed.....
for our parents, alma-mater, and every other place which helped us become us.

Make it a Happy New Year for your educational institution of choice. 


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