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Charity begins at home.

Or, like Mahatma Gandhi eloquently put it—“Be the change you wish to see
in this world”. Phrases such as these seem to ignite in our mind a fleeting flame of hope that our world
can be improved if we contribute our most diligent efforts to it. But, the reason I said fleeting is
because, our mind is a fickle being. It is like that ‘rocket’ firecracker you commonly see in Diwali—it
rises up with great expectations and ideals, shimmers and colourfully blooms with the thoughts of a
utopian future, but then quickly diminishes into nothingness when it comes to the actual execution of
those ideals. It gets distracted easily in other, apparently “important”, quests of materialistic pursuits.
The Bhagavad-Gita aptly described the mind as a little boat in the midst of a sea-storm of worldly
desires. And This small candle-flame probably doesn’t stand a chance in this maelstrom. Or
sometimes… it does.

An example of this luminous mind I found sitting in my own classroom—one charismatic personality
named Mihir Jadhav. It was he, with some like-minded classmates, founded the Satyakam Group, to
help improve the lives of the people around them. The name itself, if taken very loosely, translates
roughly from Marathi as “Work in the direction of Truth”, or simply “Good Work”. I myself had tried
to recommend a slight change to the name, “Satkarma”, a Sanskritic term which actually, in an exact
sense, meant good work, though he very politely declined. He had a definite vision, that action, and
action alone can mould how we live today, and how we will live tomorrow. He himself had even tried
to personally coruscate on the utter poverty on some major commercial spots in the city of Thane;
and, with this zeal, he shared his fire of reform with us.

The very first social work (the first for me, at least!) that we did in this group was to distribute old and
unused clothes among the needy at various points along the Central Line in suburban Mumbai. The
festival of Diwali was approaching, and while the relatively affluent sections of the society flood their
homes with dapper, embellished (and sometimes foppish) clothes, the poor have to suffice with only
the rags they have left. We wished to change this, and so hit upon this idea of dispensing clothes
among these folks, so that they too can celebrate Diwali as we do. The apparels were collected at a
large scale from various points across Northern Mumbai, Thane Kalyan and Navi Mumbai (the actual
process of which deserves a separate article for itself!). Then these clothes, numbering to around
1,500, were systematically organised (I am very much tempted to write in greater detail about how
both the collection and organisation of these clothes went on as I, as do other members of the group,
share our own set of anecdotes with them, but I am trying very hard to keep this matter as brief as
possible, so as not to overwhelm the reader) , and at last, on the 6th of November, we executed our
plan.