Q. Is HWA a registered non-profit organization? What are the benefits and caveats?

A. In the run-up meeting to the transformation of the HIRA Relief Committee (HRC) into the HIRA Welfare Association (HWA) in April 2009, it was strongly recommended that the HRA remain under the affiliation of the HIRA Foundation Trust (HFT), the parent body that has already been registered under the Charitable Societies Act of the Government of Karnataka. Thus, the benefits and caveats that go with the HFT will also hold good for the HWA. Any change in status, or independence from the parent body, will necessitate due discussions with the coordination committee of the HFT.

Q. What is the nature of the organizational hierarchy at HWA?

A. At the top of this hierarchy is the Area President followed by the Area Secretary both of whom work in consultation with the other area HWA representatives. However, based on the Islamic nature of leadership, the Area President reserves the power of veto in decisions which he considers critical, even when there is a majority opinion against his own. Of course, this veto power lasts only as long as he works and forms policies within the range of Islamic permissibility. Notwithstanding this power of veto, it will not sit well for him if he were to abstain from, or seek guidance in, consultation and discussion with others in the HWA. At all events, decisions made by the Area President will be binding on all activists and they are expected to follow his instructions in the best tradition of Islam.

Apart from these core members of the HWA a recent recruit to the cause has been Br. Hussain of the Kambalposh slum area who is now the full-time field executive of the HWA. Br. Hussain assists all area representatives in identifying and verifying applicant status. He is also responsible for all monthly collections and reports directly to the Area Secretary for all accounts, fund disbursements, and publicity requirements.

Q. Does the HWA have any restrictions on working with certain organizations?

A. As may be inferred from the above, the HWA works with all Muslim organizations and welfare groups throughout the city. These can be the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Ahl-e-Hadith, the Salafi/ Mujahid movement, the orthodox groups or any other Muslim organization based on secular ideas. As for working with non-Muslim welfare organizations and NGOs, there will be no restrictions in dealing with them openly as far as data-collection and other humanitarian efforts go. However, interacting with them in any further depth – although not an impossibility – will require due consultation and deliberation with the parent body members at the HIRA Foundation Trust.

Q. What is the age/ income level/ religion/ place of residence, etc. of patients the HWA support?

A. At HWA, we support people from all age-groups and regions of Bangalore city and its suburbs. However, we do have a priority for Muslims (somewhere in the ratio 1: 8) over people of other religions. As for income, needless to say, the HWA works to implement the Islamic vision of poverty alleviation and need fulfillment for the eligible categories of people as have been demarcated in the Qur’an. Most, if not all, of these categories imply the economically-challenged and often, physically-challenged, groups that eke out a living on a low-income or even a no-income livelihood.

Q. What kind of support can the HWA provide (Surgery, Medicine, Hospital stay, one time or long term care, dependant assistance etc.)?

A. Thus far, the HWA has supported patients with urgent medical conditions that necessitated surgery, organ transplant, vital medications, etc. on an as-and-when basis. However, HWA’s is normally not just a one-time intervention programme of action: in many cases, the patients are followed up with regard to their post-surgical conditions, and in cases where the patient is the sole bread-winner of his/ her family, financial support maintained throughout his/ her period of recovery.

Q. What are the HWA’s long term plans and vision?

A. It goes without saying that any sustained effort at social welfare calls for a solid vision for the future and long-term planning. As such, at HWA, we envision and work for a society free of the depredations of poverty, want and economic suffering. To this end we have set up short-term as well as long-term plans. In the short term, we must build on increasing public participation in raising the monthly funding that we have been receiving over the past six months. In a country like India where 80% of the population live just around, or below, the poverty line, to look for the deserving candidates who must be empowered with their right to Zakath is the easiest thing to do. What is more critical, and infinitely more difficult, is the mission to convince the economically well-off to part with the Zakat payments from their earnings as required by Islam.

The need to establish an effective, centralized, system of Zakat collection and distribution throughout Bangalore on the guidelines of strict Islamic recommendations will remain the cherished goal towards which all our efforts at implementations will be geared in the coming future. However, sufficient representation for different areas in the city will be a paramount concern for which collections made at different areas should ultimately allow the people there to collect and distribute in their respective areas, albeit through the Field Executive (collections & disbursements and verification) appointed by the Center.

For the long term, we must concentrate on furthering our interactions with other NGOs and Welfare groups, the Muslim ones in particular and all in general. We must appreciate the fact that no matter what our individual organization can contribute, associating with others opens up a larger arena of action and, more importantly, resources in the field of social welfare. The underprivileged are never so few that more organizations and individuals cannot support them any further.

Another endeavour of the HWA for the future will be our linking up and facilitating government schemes for minority welfare in Karnataka. Often, the tragedy remains that very few to none in the minorities category – particularly among the Muslims – are aware of the possibilities that government schemes can offer them. Even if they are aware, or are made aware about these, they have neither the know-how nor the diligence to make these possibilities a reality and to thereby raise their quality of life. The HWA will, therefore, take it upon itself to facilitate these underprivileged by arranging the basic requirement of such schemes like a ration card (for those who do not have it), and a BPL status etc., through its connections with the right people at the right places.

Another ambitious, but critically relevant, plan of the HWA is to make for a small scale industries scheme under its own aegis wherein facilities for skilled labour will be arranged and deserving candidates made responsible to run and earn under the supervision and control of the HWA. Presently, efforts like grant of sewing machines for a tailoring business, or a push cart for door-to-door vendoring etc. have been made, but our experience has shown that the sustainability of any such venture will ultimately depend on the extent of our own direct involvement in such projects. Indeed, we will need to empower the underprivileged to empower themselves at least until the near foreseeable future.

Whatever has been stated above are all in the best interest of the HWA and its activities, and for a general codification of its objectives resolution. However, unless and until its activists raise themselves to the level of activism required for such an extended and sustained range of activity, most of these recommendations will remain just that – recommendations.