Jain community’s ‘gift economy’ provides fresh hope

Jain community’s ‘gift economy’ provides fresh hope
 The three-storey building of the SD Jain Charitable Clinic located at Kali Bari Road in Dimapur.


Registration for prosthetic limbs to open again on Sept 18


Morung Express News
Dimapur | September 12


Even as the concept of a ‘gift economy’ has resurged in the uplift of urban communities, the Jain community has always been familiar with it. Sharing wealth to build stronger communities—more for you is more for me—is something the Jains of Dimapur follow too.


On September 19, the Shri Digamber Jain Charitable Clinic (SDJCC) at Kali Bari Road (also known as Marwari Patti) in Dimapur will give away 40 prosthetic limbs free of cost to 27 patients while 9 others will receive crutches, walkers and wheelchairs as per need.


List of doctors who operate from the SD Jain Charitable Clinic. (Morung Photo)

The Camp, titled ‘artificial limbs for amputees and calipers to polio patients,’ opened for registration on July 29 this year. Pamphlets had been distributed far and wide beforehand—at hospitals, railways station, bus stands—and social media messages had been circulated. Requests came flooding in.


“After the July 29 camp for registration, one 82-year-old man called us asking if we were still giving away walking sticks. I told him we can give him crutches or prosthetic limbs depending on his needs. He began weeping on the phone,” said Narendra Pandya, Secretary of the SDJCC who organized the camp alongside joint secretaries, Kishore Gangwal and Sanjay Binaykia.


The charitable works of the Jain community in Dimapur are effectively managed by a team instated by their community apex organization, the Shree Digamber Jain Samaj (SDJS).


To help more people, who struggle to buy simple aid like walking sticks, the Managing Committee for the Camp decided to open another round of registrations on September 18 (12:00 pm – 4:00 pm). During this, a list of who needs what will be made and measurements will be taken for prosthetic limbs. The second round of distribution dates has not yet been finalized but 20 people have already come forward with requests.


The first round of distributions will be on September 19 with 36 people receiving aid.


Charitable medicare
This is neither the first nor the only camp the SDJCC has organized.


“We have organized camps for eyes, limbs, cancer, blood testing,” listed the SDJS President, Omprakash Sethi, while talking to The Morung Express.


Faring into the Naga hills from the late 19th century as traders, the Jain community began building its community in Dimapur from the early 20th century. A Jain temple was built, followed by sites of education.


The current SD Jain Charitable Clinic was built as a medical dispensary in 1974 to provide affordable and basic medical needs. A three-storeyed building, its ground floor was revamped into the current Clinic in 2015, inaugurated by then Nagaland State Minister for Health & Family Welfare, P Longon. The second floor has been converted into a dentist’s clinic, and the third floor will be overhauled by the end of this year as a doctors’ quarter.


The registration fee structure at the Clinic has gone from Rs. 1 in 1974 to Rs. 50 in 2017, applicable for up to four visits in a week. Those below poverty line are often waived fees. Open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, the institution can be accessed by all people. It is run through voluntary donations from the SD Jain community in Dimapur.


Four doctors provide their expertise to the Clinic that includes a pediatric and physiotherapy unit apart from separate chambers for general physicians and a consulting surgeon.


“In the next three years, we aim to make this a full-fledged 24-hours medical institution that provides all round healthcare at an affordable rate, or even free of cost to the needy,” said Omprakash Sethi.


But doctors are difficult to come by and few people know about the Clinic’s services. The Camps are organized to bring in specialist doctors for specific needs for a specified time period.


“When our community heard about the prosthetics camp, many came forward to donate. Any deficit will be covered through donations from the apex SDJS,” informed Kishore Gangwal. There will be no cap set on how many physical aids are given out at the camp. The Clinic is run in a similar fashion, financially, as are several other social works the community takes up as a united team.


As an “important organ of Nagaland,” said SDJS President Omprakash Sethi, the Jain community remains committed to services for the needy, providing fresh hope for a robust urban society.