During times of disaster, many feel obligated to make donations in order to help out. We, as outsiders are helpless and therefore the best we can do is to donate our hard-earned money in the hope that it reaches the needy and ultimately makes some sort of a difference in their lives. But if it was a utopian world, this concept would have worked flawlessly, albeit we live in a society where it is a full-fledged business where conflict entrepreneurs benefit from such situations.
The Kathua gangrape case which shook the entire nation was a classic case study where all the funds collected for the victim’s family were siphoned off by some freelance JNU activists like Shehla Rashid, according to some media reports. The family of the Kathua rape victim used to sell off their livestock to pay expenses of travelling from Kargil, 530 km down to Pathankot for the court hearings and therefore a massive funds collection drive was initiated and it paid dividends too as the generous public donated their hearts out but when the turn came for the victim family to actually use it, they were left stranded. “Someone has withdrawn more than Rs 10 lakh from our joint account. We have no information about it. There was more than 20 lakh in this account. We have got the statement now, which shows withdrawal. We are only left with Rs 35,000 in the account. We were even told over Rs 1 crore had been donated from all over the world, but don’t know where it went.” said the victim’s father back then.
According to a TOI report, after Kerala was ravaged by the floods, Kochi Music Foundation organised a gala show ‘Karuna’ on November 1, 2019, to raise funds for Kerala flood relief, but more than three months later the Foundation is yet to deposit the money it collected to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) as promised. Karuna’, held at Regional Sports Centre, Kadavanthara, was billed as the biggest music concert ever in the state. The concert is now being dubbed as a one-big fraud.
And when we talk about siphoning money and not mention the great Lalu Prasad Yadav and his clan of thugs, it would be an incomplete argument. Sadhu Yadav, the brother-in-law of now-in-jail ex-CM had been accused and charge-sheeted of the Rs 17-crore 2004 flood relief fund that was meant for providing relief material to the people of north Bihar.
The situation is not only limited to our country. Conflict Entrepreneurs are always looking to fill their coffers even in the face of a calamity. Take the recent bushfires of Australia as an example that nearly wiped out the entire flora and fauna of Australia. A Bushfire Cricket Charity match was organised in Australia where legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Akram, Courtney Walsh, Ricky Ponting, and many others came together for the noble cause and raised more than $7.7 million for the communities devastated by the fires.
The amount seems substantial but some of the donors were still apprehensive of donating money, as the charity to which the proceedings were going was Red Cross. The Australian Red Cross is accused by a number of Australian politicians of holding back money earmarked for bushfire relief. Only $30 million ($20.5 million U.S.) of the $115 million ($78.7 million U.S.) donated as of January 22 to Redcross’s Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund for the Australian bushfires have been allocated for immediate distribution to victims thus far and it is irking the general masses down under.
According to a report, after 9/11, the Red Cross received over 1 billion dollars in donations and used it to open a few shelters. They allegedly charged rescue workers for the food and drinks they served. The little they do for victims is to put them in hotels until they can be put back into their homes — hotels they don’t even have to pay for.
The hazy spending and the lack of accountability means calamities are only a means to generate money for conflict entrepreneurs. They do not deserve our money, so rather than donating money at concerts or to multi-billion for-profit organizations, you should pick and choose an NGO that genuinely puts the money for good use.