FIIB Debate: Is Ice Bucket Challenge the right way to support ALS research, considering the shortfall of water resources?

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has become The Philanthropic Blockbuster with School children, College students, Corporates, Bollywood and Hollywood personalities, Politicians, Army Generals participating in the challenge. It has been ubiquitous on Facebook and lured thousands of people including of celebrities, which has resulted in millions of donations to ALS research and raised awareness of the disease. Recently ALS Association announced that donations related to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge have topped $100 million in the past month. That’s a 3,500% increase from the $2.8 million that the ALS Association raised during the same time period last year.

Above figures clearly indicates the amount of positive awareness this viral “Ice Bucket Challenge” has raised for ALS, but it has been criticized for wasting water, considering the depleting water resources. It has been calculated that over 6 million gallons of water has been poured out already in the name of “Ice Bucket Challenge”. This much of water is equivalent to daily usage of water to 19000 homes!

FIIB being one of the few management institutions in India practicing Sustainability got involved in this debate to have views and opinions on said theme. The debate turned out to be quite encouraging with FIIB Community sharing some other creative ways of making this campaign a big hit.

Though Prof. Monica Mor really liked the idea and intention behind the same, but being against wastage of water she strongly disagreed to the challenge. She said, “As a Marketing person & an educator in the same stream, it seems like a very “out of the box” idea & we have seen this challenge go viral in the most exceptional way. It has percolated down to the level of schools in urban India where friends are challenging each other, & also hopefully debating about ALS. No point doing the challenge & forgetting about the cause you did it for!”

She further said, “I am however also a very socially aware person who works with the civil society for certain causes. That part of me completely abhors this challenge, where I feel the “giver” has become bigger than the “cause”. I have been vociferously speaking against this “Challenge” & the wastage of water on Twitter. And believe me I have got support there! So everyone go take the “Rice Challenge” & step out of the “Ice bucket challenge”. If you care, donate!!”

Ms. Akshita Agrawal from corporate communication department also disagreed and said. “It is waste of water and if one wants to donate, they should just do it, or if they do not want to donate, they shouldn’t. I don’t see the logic of wasting water for a challenge like this.”

After the complete research and with all facts and figures, Anuja Solanki, 1st year student, opted not to support Ice Bucket Challenge. She said, “To support the cause people should choose other ways. I strongly believe that people should think over it once before taking the challenge and save water i.e. a scarce resource.”

Supporting Anuja’s statement, Dipesh Sharma, 1st year student, said, “its trend to pretend that we care. This is just a race on social networking sites, where instead of donating for the cause, people are just doing it for fun.”

While stressing on unfortunate situation of water resources in our country, Pratik Seth, 1st year student, didn’t support the challenge and said, “Being a management students, I found this campaign quite interesting, but scarcity of water resources cannot be avoided in the process. People completely neglected the fact that conserving water is also a matter of great concern. Many people die because of shortage of clean drinking water. Another depressing thing was, many people including celebrities and businessmen used this platform to become popular amongst their peers and didn’t donate for the cause.”

With just 1% clean water available Ms. Anuja Bedi from Admissions Departmnet was not ready to support the challenge and suggested to think of some other way of spreading awareness about ALS. She said, “Our population is increasing day by day and we are as it is facing problems of drinking at various countries. Wasting good water is not the ideal way.” In addition she read in one of the blog that in 2012, ALSA has directed only 7.71% of its budget to research, 63.63% to other program related activities, 10.54% for administrative cost and 18.11% for fundraising. That means that out of the $100 we would give to this organization, only $7.71 of it would go to research.

Siddharth Ranga from 2nd year also didn’t support the ALS ice bucket challenge because of amount of water got wasted in the process. In addition, he suggested diverting from ALS to other deadly diseases like Cancer or AIDS which leads to considerable amount of fatalities in India. He said, “I appreciate the level of funds being generated but at the same time I feel bad for the amount of water being wasted all across the world and I believe effective use of that level of water could have solved the water shortage problems of many areas mainly the slum & villages. Moreover I think that short-term philanthropy doesn’t generate sustainable research in fact it’s a long term phenomenon.”

Manimala and Nisha from 2nd year supported the campaign focusing on how this campaign has grabbed the attention of masses and convinced them to donate for this noble cause. Manimala said, “The Ice Bucket challenge is a fun game and a good way for charity. But these challenges could be more funny and useful if the participants could have saved that one bucket rather than pouring on themselves.” According to Nisha “At least it’s getting people’s attention. And its fun too, it is not necessary to address serious cause with boring and heart aching message. As long as the message is passing to masses without hurting anyone’s feelings it is totally fine with me.”

There’s been a lot of debate since the ALS ice bucket challenge started a few weeks ago. Many are debating its worth if so many people are simply dumping water over their heads and not making meaningful donations. And some are debating on how this small thing of pouring water has turned out to be the biggest campaign ever to spread awareness on ALS. In addition, the huge gallons of water which has been wasted already cannot be ruled out. Questions remains, are we challenging each other to act charitably because it’s the right thing to do, or because everyone is doing it?