Pick a Fight – How we do it, and what all have we done so far?

It has been 4-5 months now since the seeds were sown forĀ  Pick a Fight, and I think its time to summarize how we work, what have we done so far, and what’s next in the coming months? The last 4-5 months have been really wonderful. We have met and connected with so many amazing people, some fighting for a cause and some willing to contribute to different fights in the society. The Anna Hazare led anti-corruption movement just showed that ‘we care‘ about our country and will come out to fight if the right options are available.

How we work?

We have found out that people always want to help others, as, either aware or unaware, that gives human beings the most satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment. But most people don’t know where to go and whom to approach to volunteer their services or resources. After this, another important factor is lack of trust that whether their resources are being used for the right purposes or not. This is not strange considering the amount of corruption in India, even in the NGO sector.

So when we take care of finding opportunities where different people can contribute, and making sure their help is utilized as they intended it to be, people are more than willing to help. We have people from Kashmir to Karnataka, from New York to Hyderabad who are volunteering their time and using their skills for our requirements.

We have formed different teams in cities like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi and for different work categories such as design, communication, technical work, etc. People come up with new ideas, meet and discuss them and partner with different NGOs and try to help them in whatever way they need help. In all, there are around 40-50 people who have come forward with their willingness to contribute.

A week long transplant coordinators training program by Gift Your Organ

A week long transplant coordinators training program by Gift Your Organ

What have we done so far?

Gift Your Organ is a NGO promoting Organ Donation. They recently held a 5 day training program for transplant co-ordinators of different hospitals in Bangalore where 60 people from all over the country participated. We helped them in designing the brochures for this event. Apart from that, they want to hold awareness sessions in schools, colleges and companies to spread awareness about Organ Donation. We are reaching out to our network to help arrange this for them.

Beyond Carlton is a NGO working in the area of fire safety. They work with the fire department to ensure proper awareness among people about fire safety. They approached us for help regarding promotion using social media and for their website. We have connected them to a social media strategist who is devising a strategy for them right now. Also, a web design company has volunteered to design their website totally free of cost. We are glad we are able to contribute to their cause.

Apart from the above two, we have also helped a few orphanages find some teachers to teach the students and have asked people to go spend some time in old age homes. We have also initiated Waste Management activities in 3-4 apartments in Bangalore since we started, as an extension of the No-Waste initiative I started last year.

Beyond Carlton organized a free medical camp for firemen and their families at Manipal Hospital

Beyond Carlton organized a free medical camp for firemen and their families at Manipal Hospital

What’s Next?

We already have a functional team in Bangalore and are building teams in Mumbai and Delhi as we speak. So if you want to join our team in any of these cities, or take up forming a new team in your city, do contact me at sumit@pickafight.in or call me at 9916532966. I will get you started and make sure your help is channeled in a proper way to make a difference.

If you don’t want to join actively at this time, you can always join us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to keep updated with whatever we are doing. Lets say Gift Your Organ wants to have a awareness event, and you can connect us with the right people in your company. This way, you can contribute to a cause without having to be an active part of it. So do join us on these platforms and stay updated.

So let us all do our bit. And as Mother Teresa said, “It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.”

Challenges before Pick A Fight and Philanthropy in India

We have got a pretty decent start to Pick A Fight. We made the Pick a Fight website live on 15 May, and have been making continuous updates on it since then. We have been covered by MyBangalore.com, Bangalore Mirror and Deccan Chronicle as far as media coverage goes. More than 20 people have volunteered to join our team to help with Pick A Fight activities. We have started working with a few fights and on-the-ground activities / campaigns will start soon.

Having said that, giving and philanthropy in India is still in the very nascent stages. The world leader in philanthropy is US which contributes about 2.2% of its GDP whereas India only contributes 0.6% of its GDP to philanthropy. Most of the philanthropy in the west is from individuals while individual contribution is just 10% of India’s. So why has giving not picked up in India? What are the challenges before us? Can our philanthropy standards keep pace continuous economic growth?

Red Tapism

The way our government and bureaucracy works, there is a lot left to be desired if you consider the effectiveness of work happening. Many of the laws and regulations are outdated. Taking permissions and certificates is a slow process and can take up to a year in many cases. Add to them the problem of corruption and this hampers the intentions of people even if they are willing to help otherwise.


Apart from our families, we have a very small circle of trust. Especially when it comes to matters of money, we tend to see everybody with suspicion rather than trust. Most of the giving today is facilitated by government agencies and NGOs and other agencies in the non-government sector, where unfortunately, the levels of corruption is too high for anybody to feel trustworthy donating to them.


Officers and people holding offices in our government and bureaucracy are rarely held accountable for their duties. It is very easy for them to go back on their promises and duties without fear of any penalty, loss of pay or punishment. This kind of attitude further discourages people and organizations to give their money and resources to philanthropy.

Challenges Ahead

Challenges Ahead for Pick a Fight

Measuring Social Impact

If we somehow ignore the above three factors and consider all the work which is happening in the social sector, it is very difficult to measure the social impact of philanthropic efforts of India. There are no set standards or benchmarks to compare to. It is very difficult to measure how many households have come out of poverty, or how many people have improved their standards of living due to a particular philanthropic effort.

Considering that Pick a Fight and other philanthropic efforts have to work in an environment consisting of the above four factors, it is surely going to be a challenge. Getting the trust of people, and holding ourselves accountable for whatever tasks we take up is going to be the key for creating a sustainable giving movement in India.

We will also need to devise ways of measuring the social impact we are causing. The work we do might have social, economic and environmental impact but measuring them is very important for them to be properly acknowledged by one and all. “What can be measured can be improved” goes a popular saying. Knowing how well you are achieving your objectives can help you plan better for the future. It also highlights the importance of the work we do, to our partners, customers, staff and volunteers, donors or to a government agency.

Although it is not easy or well defined how to measure social benefit, its importance should be evident to all. Only by constantly making efforts in this direction keeping in mind the interests of our various stakeholders will help us in creating a new culture of giving and promoting philanthropy in India.

What was the need for Pick a Fight?

As many of you know, I am working on my latest initiative, which we have named “Pick a Fight“. The aim is to become a one stop destination to connect anyone who is fighting for a cause and looking for help with anyone who is willing to contribute in terms of money, time or resources. But why? Why have we started this? What was the need for such an initiative? In this article I will dwell on this question in detail.

George Bernard Shaw once said –

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity”

Today, as we live in a 21st century India which is economically progressing at a brisk pace, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Do we care about our fellow countrymen who have been deprived of this growth?”, “Does it hurt us when we see news of crime against women and elderly?”, “Do we care about our society in the same way as we care about our family?” You might answer yes or no to these questions, but nobody can deny the fact that real (inclusive) and sustainable growth cannot happen if there is no social and economic equality and a large number of our people are still hungry and unemployed. A society cannot be called prosperous unless it takes good care of its weak and underprivileged populace.

Creating a Culture of Giving

I have always been proud of how much we Indians care for our family members, how much we sacrifice and give for the happiness of our family. But outside of family, our giving is very limited. Being very religious people, most of our giving outside our family is confined to religion. But unfortunately, all that has not made its way to the needy and for development purposes. We give money and gold in huge amounts to Gods and temples, but surprisingly, we don’t give for the values and teachings that these Gods stand for. Pick a Fight aims to create giving as a culture to promote values and ideals preached in all major religions.

See Giving as an Investment in Social Change

We need to see giving as an investment in social change rather than just an outgo of time and money. Giving for social change is like an investment which will come back to benefit us and our future generations. It is not for someone else’s benefit, it is for everybody’s, including ours, benefit. With Pick A Fight, we aim to provide options for people willing to give so that they are aware of the difference and social impact they are making.

Giving for Social Change

Giving for Social Change

Giving for Development Assistance rather than Charity

Giving can take two forms. One option is giving for charity, like feeding a hungry person or giving medicines to those who can’t afford them. Another form of giving is to give for a development process, like for an employment program or for education, which enables the receiver to empower him/herself and improve his/her living standards so that he/she doesn’t need the donor from the next time. A perfect proverb to highlight this point is – “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. We need to move our giving to the second form which builds long term sustainable growth for the recipient.

No Common Platform

India has over 3 million NGOs working on a myriad of issues. But there is no extensive repository or listing directory available for donors to search based on their state, area of interest, etc. (There are few like NGOPost, GiveIndia, but they are limited in their operations and reach) We intend to fill that gap with Pick a Fight as we grow. Apart from that, a common platform can also be used for communication between different stakeholders. NGOs can share their best practices from different causes they are working on, and people can share stories of hope and courage to encourage and inspire others. Sharing resources and knowledge on a common platform will be instrumental in shaping the future of India.

We are the Privileged, and have the Responsibility

We are the privileged section of the population to grow up in the last 20 years when India has seen economic progress. We are also the ones who have been directly benefited by this growth and the reforms after 1991 have made a considerable impact in our lifestyles. But there is still a large part of our population who have missed it. It is our responsibility to take the decisive steps required to make them a part of this growth so that they also contribute to the economy for the next phase of growth.

So this was the reasoning behind starting Pick a Fight. After all, we export our software all over the word and are known for it. It is time we use our software and technical skills to help our own people and country. And Pick a Fight is still in its infancy, we would need a lot of support from all parts of the country to make it a success. We would also need a lot more initiatives by privileged people like me and you to ignite the next wave of growth and send a ripple of hope across the nation.

Pick a Fight – A poem

It is time

It is time

Life is so great,
Why should you wait?
You are a hero,
Go show some bravo!
The light will shine bright,
If we decide to pick a fight!!

Few of us are not so lucky,
Want to make them happy?
Then this is your chance,
Their dreams we can enhance!
The possibilities are infinite,
Let us all pick a fight!!

This is your life’s journey,
Are you going to live it fully?
Find out what interests you,
We have a lot on our menu!!
Let your hopes rise like a kite,
Big or small, but pick a fight!!

You can make a difference,
Light the world with brilliance!
Step outside of your shadow,
But don’t wait for tomorrow!
A new fire let us today ignite,
This is our chance to pick a fight!!

It’s time to welcome the new,
If not me and you, then who?
Let us create a new future,
Which is sweet and not bitter!
Together we must all unite,
Now is the time to pick a fight!!

P.S. – Visit http://www.pickafight.in for more details..

Volunteering, What It Can Do For You?

Volunteering has a meaningful impact on your community. It contributes to the overall social and economic health of the community, as people are engaged positively into contributing for disadvantaged sections of society. It could range from visiting the sick, planting a tree or advocating for human rights. But apart from the benefits to the society, we most often miss the benefits it can have for the person who is volunteering. Here are some ways how volunteering can benefit you –

Learn new Skills
Volunteering can help us learn more skills and makes us aware of our hidden skills. We can help organize a fundraising event, do an awareness event, or teach students in a school. By doing this we can improve our goal setting, planning or budgeting skills. It also helps us to improve our decision making skills and contribute to personal change by affecting our beliefs about day to day behavior of people. If you always had a hobby and you wanted to know if you should pursue it, you can volunteer with your skills to see for yourself whether you enjoy doing it or not, or where you stand in that skill. For example, taking initiatives like ‘No Waste‘ and ‘Dandi March‘ has certainly made a huge difference to my people management and leadership skills.

Volunteer for Yourself

Volunteer for Yourself

Sense of Fulfillment
When we volunteer, we give our time and skills generously by choice. There is no anxiety and stress as we have made the decision all by ourself. Therefore, volunteering gives us the highest level of accomplishment and a sense of fulfillment. Whenever I have helped others, I have always felt joy and I think it is the same with all human beings. Even after working on something physically stressful while volunteering, people always feel stress-free, relaxed and more alive after doing it. And irrespective of the outcome, the knowledge of contributing to a good cause is always rewarding.

Wider Perspective
In our busy day to day lives, volunteering can help us create some stability in our lives. The confidence and experience gained from volunteering can be helpful in seeing workplace issues in a different perspective. We discover new traits of our personality and can reach for new levels of performance at the workplace too. For me, meeting people from different age groups and different professions has given me the ability to put my world in perspective with so much other stuff happening which I was totally unaware of earlier. It has also helped me improve my social and interpersonal skills. Volunteering can help anybody get out of the ‘rat race’ and create a balance in their lives.

Connecting with others
When you volunteer, you will meet new people from different walks and segments of the society. These contacts can be valuable in establishing business contacts or for seeking employment in the future. Meeting people and making new friends increase the feeling of relatedness with the community, and is rewarding intrinsically. People and societies depend on each other for survival but commercialism and consumerism have seen people getting more and more individualistic. What better way to connect and give something back to your community than volunteering.

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another” is a popular quote by James Keller. We can not give something (out of free will) without getting something in return. When we give our time and skills to another, it is like lighting a candle. We don’t lose anything, but gain more light (knowledge). Volunteering always leaves us richer in spirit, happiness, skills and takes away your problems, stress and anxiety. If you have not spend time volunteering till now, do so. It is certainly one of the things you must experience sooner than later. For volunteering opportunities, see this initiative (Pick A Fight) I am taking with a few of my friends.