This was a social experiment not focused on garnering YouTube hits. Karma Kitchen, an initiative first started in 2007 at Berkeley, California, was aimed at building a “gift economy”. Volunteers offer meals to customers as a gift, who are then encouraged to pay for the meals of those who came after them. In India, this took the form of Karma Rasoi and was conducted by some students at the School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL).
Over a week, diners at a couple of busy restaurants in Delhi and Gurgaon were greeted with a ‘Your meal is free’ message. SOIL students then asked them whether they would keep the chain going by opting to ‘pay-it-forward’. The customer could walk away paying nothing or shell out whatever she felt was appropriate.
The experiment was supervised by Sunil Sachdev and his team at Flip Bistro outlets in Safdarjung Development Area and Gurgaon respectively. Meenatche R was one of the students who participated. She went with three friends and was able to convince 15 customers to pay-it-forward one Sunday afternoon. “One couple was excited about donating and emptied their pockets (they had Rs 800-1,000) and wished us luck. Another couple who had seemed to enjoy their lunch were sceptical, and eventually refused to pay but asked for the actual bill,” she says.
Rachit Garg, a 21-year-old engineering student at IIT-Delhi, had gone to Flip Bistro with a friend about a month ago. They were taken aback when it wasn’t the waiter but two volunteers from Karma Rasoi who came forward on asking for the bill. His first thought was that they must be seeking donations, but when they explained the initiative, Garg and his friend were surprised and volunteered to continue the gift cycle.
Overall, the total bill for the meals came to Rs12,570. While the customers donated Rs10,740 to pay-it-forward, the difference of Rs1,830 was footed by the students. A self-confessed follower of social media trends, Garg ranks this experiment as one of the better ones he has seen, since “a majority of widely popular social experiment is biased towards what the conductors feel about the situation or outcomes that help videos go viral.”
Taken from Business Standard