It was the first year of my engineering in college and since the examinations were over, Like all other students I too had received a mail from the college librarian that since the exams are over I must return the book which I had borrowed from the college Library Book Bank. It was called a Book Bank since college library will lend maximum two books to all the needy students for the whole academic year and it must be returned to the college library without any damage. I was faced with a problem since I had borrowed this book for a friend who needed it over and above his quota of 2 books and he had left for his native place for vacation without returning his or my book. My purpose was to help this friend by borrowing a book from my quota and giving it to him since I was able to buy my books and pay for my tuition fees from the number of scholarships I used to receive.
When the first mail was received I did not respond thinking that when my friend comes back I will collect the book and return it, giving some excuse to the librarian. After about 3 weeks a very nasty mail came from the college and my father read it and was really upset with me. He told me that I should visit the college and meet the Librarian today itself. I was bit nervous but still went and told the Librarian the whole story, she was a nice lady but hearing my story she was very angry and told me that because of students like you many deserving students do not get books from the book bank. I did not agree with her view point then but as I grew up I realized that she was absolutely right since you can not help others with some one else’s resources, if you really want to help others it must be through your own earned resources. She took my Identity Card and took me to the principal. Since I was a popular student principal knew me by my first name and listened to my story and told me, look although your purpose was good, it was against the interest of many other students. He told me that since this is your first mistake I am going to pardon it but you will have to compensate for your mistake and he asked me how do you propose to compensate. It was a very spontaneous thought that came to my mind and I told my principal that when I start making money, I will donate books to libraries.
After that incidence many years passed by and after completing my studies I was having a decent job and also set up my own business of manufacturing pumps at the later date. Many things had changed in the mean time but only thing that did not change was my passion for reading. I would read all kinds of books or literature or magazines. Reading was like an addiction for me and therefore I had to reduce my reading when I entered my college and finally gave it up by choice when I got admission in to the engineering college. My mother used to tell me that I started reading stories and such stuff rather keenly when I reached my 3rd grade. When I went in to 5th grade I was totally addicted to reading. In those days it was not possible for us to buy books or magazines or even news papers because of economic reasons and therefore apart from whatever I would get from the school library, I would borrow anything from my friends or neighbors to continue my reading activities.
Since I could not afford to buy those very expensive books I used to regularly visit some of our well off neighbors, one of whom was Judge and the other was a Doctor. They used to have show cases filled with very interesting books and had also subscribed for many magazines. Generally I would be the first person to open all these books and magazines to read them. Sometimes I used to wonder that when these people are not able read these books or magazines why do they buy or subscribe them. I did not have the answer for that question that time but now when I see many of the new books and magazines like Time. Money, Fortune and Forbes etc lying in my office untouched for days, I have got my answer that the reading always does not come on top of your priorities since you have many more other important things to do. Since I used to borrow these books and magazines from these noble people, I always felt very obliged and therefore would take every opportunity to do small petty things for them like go and pay their bills, deposit or withdraw money or deposit checks in to their bank, post their mails at the post office, help them with buying may be grocery or medicines from chemist etc to partly pay back for their generosity to allow me to access all their books or even their entire libraries.
The years passed by and one day I received a wonderful book on “Quality Management” by a very well known author from the industrialist and well known businessman Shri Dahyalal Shah from the machine tools sector. I was surprised to find that the same book was also received in the name of my other businesses. Thereafter few more books with different titles on “Quality Assurance”, “Total Quality” etc were also received. The most surprising part was that all these books were sent as complimentary to all the recipients and even shipping and handling was paid for by him. I was little curious and since I knew their family, I enquired about the purpose and found that his charitable foundation had a mission to create a quality culture among the Indian Businesses and Industries and therefore had distributed these books free.
This inspired me and reminded me of my pledge to my engineering college principal. I did not have to wait long for my first opportunity and after a few days I was invited as a chief guest in small function in a housing society where I was informed about various activities carried out by the society members. One of them was a library for the children. They told me that they have few books at present but they wish to buy more when the spare funds are available. I asked the office bearers that would it be alright if I offered few books as gift to the children’s library. They agreed and then I bought few hundred story books, books on biographies of Indian leaders like Gandhiji, Pundit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Subhash Chandra Bose etc. and gifted to the library.
Thereafter it had become a routine for me to gift all kinds of books including technical Books, Periodicals, offer gift subscriptions for News papers and some popular Magazines etc. to as many public libraries as I could. The purpose of giving these gift books was not just for doing something for the good cause but I had a mission to propagate the concept of Book Bank. I had made it a practice to apply a sticker on each book or magazine with a message which read “ This book is through the courtesy of BOOK BANK. Book Bank appeals to all the readers that whenever it is possible they should try to gift their used or new books to the public libraries and spread the mission of BOOK BANK.
Ii is true that I can not match the resources of philanthropists like Shri Dahyalal Shah or many others who are doing great many things for the society and have been the source of inspiration to many people like me and I do not even know how far my message has reached or has it inspired any people to spread the mission of BOOK BANK. but it certainly leaves me satisfied with the fact that I have made a sincere effort for a good cause.