When I was posted as the Principal Secretary of medical and health, several programmes were being run with the help or association of international agencies. One such programme was leprosy eradication. Once, a World Health Organisation (WHO) team visited Lucknow in connection with this programme. The head of the team was an Indian, as a result of which the communication between us became easier and the appreciation of the problem also became better. India, in general, and Uttar Pradesh, in particular, had done a good job in this field and the leprosy rate had come down appreciably. The work was, therefore, appreciated by the visiting team.
In the evening, a dinner meeting was arranged by the department. While I was conversing with the team leader at this meet, a question came to my mind as to who funds such programmes and why? Whether the funding agencies or the countries are really interested in the welfare of the poor countries or there is some other agenda also. When I asked this question to the team leader, he understood my intention and gave a very realistic reply. Also, being an Indian he knew the ground realities of India well.
He said that no international funding is done only on compassionate grounds and there is always a hidden agenda, which serves the donor nation in one way or the other. In health-related programmes, it is mainly to protect their own nations from those diseases, which are likely to affect their countries also. Such nations feel that as long as such diseases or health issues exist in any corner of the world, they themselves also face the danger of their onslaught. It is mainly for this reason that they fund such programmes. However, human consideration is also a factor but generally, it is subservient to the first one. This was exactly what I had in mind when I put the question to the leader and his reply confirmed my thinking.
Thereafter, I extended this fact to all acts of kindness undertaken at the individual or collective level. When we do good to others, it helps us first and then the beneficiary or the beneficiaries. Whether the help is in cash, kind or service, it always gives us a subtle joy, which is a great reward in itself. Greater the selflessness in such a help, greater is the joy or reward. Going by this logic, totally selfless help gives infinite joy. Once we understand and appreciate this science of help, helping others becomes our nature, not for the sake of others but for our own sake only. Thus, from the viewpoint of return, a selfless living is the most selfish way of living but such selfishness is an enlightened one or higher one.