A social initiative built on volunteering, Time Bank is beginning to make its presence felt in Chennai

August 20, 2022 11:27 pm | Updated August 22, 2022 11:42 am IST

Three members of the Time Bank of India from Chennai

Three members of the Time Bank of India from Chennai

Time like money can be put aside towards meeting exigencies. When 24 hours and a pair of hands are not sufficient to tackle a crisis, the time saved would infuse extra hours into that evil day, bringing “additional pairs of hands” in the process.

However, like money, these hours have to be earned by the sweat of one’s brow. Welcome to the Time Bank of India.

On August 15, the one-day pop-up market established by The Hindu on the lawns of the 2000-unit gated community House of Hiranandani Upscale scenically set against the Muttukadu backwaters, the Time Bank of India had been assigned a stall.

Mistaken for a regular bank dealing in currency, the stall was largely bypassed by the milling crowd.

It took a curious pause from visitors at the market to realise that the Time Bank of India was as removed from money, as are the antipodes. This bank deals in hours — volunteering hours — and promotes a social cause. By registering for the Time Bank of India, a person agrees to extend their time towards volunteering, and the hours of volunteering they put in are credited to their time account.

When they themselves are in dire straits, one requiring them to seek the help of a volunteer — either for themselves, or their relatives, friends and acquaintances — they can withdraw from the “hours account” they have built over time by sparing their time for volunteering. In the manner of a bank account, hours can be deposited and withdrawn.

The exercise is primarily geared towards helping seniors. It is said to have originated in Switzerland as an exercise initiated by the government to help the aged population in their midst.

This Time Bank of India stall at the pop-up market at the gated community on Old Mahabalipuram Road was manned by three members who had put down their names for the cause, not long ago.

One of them, Raghavan Murti, a resident of House of Hiranandani Upscale, observes that the movement is still in its nascency in Chennai.

“There may be only around 30 members across Chennai. Chapters are based on pin codes, the idea being that people living in a particular pin code would be available for one another for volunteering. The few chapters in Chennai are still in the incubation stage, as the rule book lays down that a chapter can be functional only after it has managed a minimum of 20 members. The idea behind this rule is the exercise would fall flat on its face if someone seeks volunteering help, and there isn’t anyone close to the region, readily available to volunteer for them,” explains Raghavan.

Raghavan is part of chapter 600130, which includes Navalur, Thazhambur, Egattur and Siruseri.

“There are 12 members in the 600130 chapter,” discloses Raghavan.

He notes that around the time he heard about the initiative, he also learnt that it was popular in north India, particularly Rajasathan. Time Bank of India’s registered office is Jaipur.

“I got in touch with PC Jayanth, one of the key members of the Time Bank movement in North India and learnt everything about it from him,” says Raghavan. He notes that one of the axiomatic rules of the Time Bank movement is that nobody should be persuaded to join it.

“A member is allowed only to pass the information about the movement.”

K Rajasekhar, a resident of L&T Eden Park, a gated community in Siruseri, and a member of the Time Bank movement, notes someone can join it through auto-registration, and there would be a verification process following that. For registration and more details, visit timebankofindia.com

Meet the volunteer from Chennai 600017
South Boag Road resident KL Srinivasulu is 64 years old, and does not seem to be in a mood to slow down. He continues to be an entrepreneur, and is also willing to make time for volunteering, under the Time Bank of India banner.
To the best of his knowledge, he is the only one from T Nagar to have registered with the Time Bank. And if that information is spot-on, Pin Code 600017 is probably still a few dreary laps from reaching the status of a chapter.
Srinivasulu understands that the concept of having chapters on the basis of pin codes is to enable quick access. “A pin code usually consists of an area of one-and-half kilometres to two kilometres in radius, but given the availability of mass transit systems, particularly the Metro, one can easily stretch themselves up to five kilometres.” The T Nagar resident also believes the Time Bank movement can be broadbased to make it a volunteering tool that serves many others in distress, besides seniors needing help.

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