The biggest challenge that we face as a society today is the influx of a number of people, both locals and non-locals, who are out to collect alms for the needy. There is an unprecedented rush of people moving around in hired taxis carrying microphones to highlight the plight of people who need monetary help. But without any social audit in place nobody knows how that money is being utilised and to whom it is given finally.
There is no way to cross check the credentials of these people as they work independently, and often with a level of secrecy. Ramadan is the month of charity; but does the money we give so willing for needy and destitute really reach them – we never bother to check. The entire concept of helping people in need falls flat when we end up handing over the money to wrong people. Though, one cannot frame every single charitable organization working in Kashmir in one category i.e. corrupt, but lack of transparency does not help either. If the money is public and meant for people in need, then the veil of secrecy about how and where it is spend is not acceptable. There has to be accountability. In a Muslim majority place like Kashmir such institutions often attract a certain degree of respect from people across ideologies. But the way collection and distribution of charity is done in Kashmir – unorganized and without proper audit – the element of respect is fast giving way to doubt. To get rid of this doubt, there is a need for centralized collection system on the lines of Bait-Ul-Maal.
But concept of Bait-Ul-Maal or public treasury has largely remained limited to local levels, mosques, etc. in Kashmir giving rise to private charity collection centres like the ones activate in Ramadan. In a conflict ridden place like Kashmir, where a large section of population has suffered both physically and monetarily, collection and distribution of public money in an organized manner becomes important.
But with corruption seeped in to almost every sphere of our lives the question arises: who will monitor the process?
There have been instances where unorganized and unauthorised charities collected huge amount of money for people affected by the conflict, but that money never reached them. It ended up filling the coffers of people with vested interests.
But at the same time corruption cannot be an excuse for not implementing the tested Bait-Ul-Maal system in Muslim majority Kashmir. If done properly the organized system of collecting money and then distributing it through proper channels can help thousands of people who need help.
In a place where more than 1 lakh families are directly affected by the conflict, with their sole bread winners either killed or missing, how can we contribute and not ask for where it ends up. We need to organize in order to survive and help others survive.