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Discussion Room

Discussion Room

The life-sustaining drops – World Water Day

World water day

“Water is essential for a healthy life and environment. Replenish water bodies and make an effort to stop polluting the seas with plastic and sewage.” – Manjushree L.

“Every living organism depends on water for survival and we must save water now so it will be useful for future generations. I hope more farmers can implement sprinkler irrigation, a proven measure to reduce water wastage.” – Savitha M.

“The water cycle is an essential part of life. Water is very important for agriculture and generation of electricity. We must treat wastewater and use it for irrigation purpose.” – Bavitha K.

“Water plays a role in all aspects of life. We’re completely dependent on it. We must store and utilise rainwater for bathing and washing vessels.” – Vishwaraj V.M.

“Water is very important for building, agriculture, drinking, and general household work. Rainwater harvesting and water treatment plants can solve a lot of water issues.” – Santosh P.

These are the opinions of our future philanthropist, Manjula L.; future teachers, Savitha M. and Bhavitha K.; future singer, Vishwaraj V.M.; and future lawyer, Santosh P. They are all aware of the significance of water. But, is it possible for them to achieve their dreams without access to clean drinking water? Quite possibly not! Because, it is estimated that consumption of contaminated water takes away lives of nearly 1,000 children, each day.

Water is the quintessential element of life. It not only quenches our thirst but also affects our health and livelihood. So, what about those who have to tread miles of distances to reach a source of clean drinking water? Yes, there are more than 663 million people who do not have access to safe drinking water thereby affecting their health, growth, and progress.

Upon recommendation at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) for an international day to spread awareness about the significance of freshwater and how to conserve it, the United Nations General Assembly declared 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. Since then, it has become an annual event observed globally on March 22. Each year, this day is dedicated to a specific theme related to freshwater with the theme for 2018 being ‘Nature for Water’. This theme will focus on exploring nature-based solutions to tackle and overcome water challenges of the 21st century. Since our ecosystem has already undergone excessive damage there is a need to restore ecological balance and only nature-based measures have the potential to provide sustainable solutions for rebalancing water cycle and conserving freshwater. Backing this situation is the Sustainable Development Goal 6 that targets to ‘achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030’ while also targeting protection of water-related ecosystems and effective sanitation management. It is reported that:

Sustainable development

Mindful of this critical situation, several not-for-profit organisations have taken up water conservation as their core cause and many others have taken measures to save water in their realm of services. One such NGO belonging to the latter category is The Akshaya Patra Foundation. This Indian charitable trust works in the sector of Mid-Day Meal Scheme providing freshly cooked nutritious meals to more than 1.6 million government school children from their 34 kitchen units located in 12 states of India.

All the kitchens cook up a variety of nutrition-rich meals every day, making potable water one of the vital ingredients. To maintain hygiene standards, all the kitchens make use of RO purified water for its pre-cooking and cooking processes. Additionally, water is also required for other operational processes such as washing and cleaning of vessels, kitchens, equipment, and meal delivery vans. Being aware of the huge requirement and remaining steadfast in the hygiene and cleanliness standards Akshaya Patra has taken several steps to optimise the use of water in its realm of service. The NGO runs pilot projects in its kitchens focussing on every area of kitchen processes and upon achieving favourable results implements it in the daily operations. Some of the measures that have clearly resulted in reduced water consumption are:

Water conservation tipsIn conclusion, let’s be grateful for having the basic necessity called ‘water’ readily available to most of us. And, as our beneficiaries mentioned at the very outset let’s take tangible steps to conserve the precious drops so that everyone gets an equal share of this life-sustaining element.

For the benefit of children and environment, Akshaya Patra invites your participation in its efforts to conserve water. Share your ideas in the comments section and also spread the word in your network about the Foundation’s cause.

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Discussion Room

Donating for tax exemption – Will it help the society?

Donate and save tax

Hunger, malnutrition, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, child labour, homelessness, water scarcity, climate change, pollution, a threat to marine ecology, animal rights, natural disaster, and the list go on. These and more such issues are being battled nationally and globally by almost every nation. Hence, not just governmental intervention, but it requires the involvement of all – communities, corporates, and individual citizens for a society to thrive coherently. Undoubtedly, the government is responsible for the growth and development of the country and its citizens. But, it is also our responsibility to do our bit in countering various socio-environmental issues. And, one of the effective ways is to get involved with a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). Yes, NGOs are legally formed active groups working towards various issues in a focussed and strategized manner, and most importantly, for the sustainability of the society from the grass root level. Though independent of any government management and ownership, NGOs play a significant role in creating a synergy between all the sectors and communities of the society towards fighting for a cause.

Your involvement with an NGO gives you the opportunity to contribute constructively towards the betterment of the society. Comprehending the potential of NGOs, the Government of India introduced Section 80G as tax exemption in India to encourage people to donate towards charitable trusts by providing income tax relief. Under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act, the amount donated towards an NGO is allowed to be claimed as a deduction at the time of filing income tax return, provided the charitable trust or relief fund you have donated to is registered to offer you exemptions from taxes. The assessee can either claim income tax exemption of 100% or 50% of the amount donated as a deduction depending upon the criterions set by the Income Tax Act.

Over the years, there has been a visible change in the number of individuals who donate towards charity. According to the World Giving Index 2016, about 203 million Indians donated money during 2015 as opposed to 183 million in 2014. Simultaneously, there has also been an increase in the awareness of various issues. In addition, the government is also taking steps to ensure transparency and accountability of the funds received by the NGOs, thereby furthering the confidence of donors on charitable trusts.

Financial contributions play a crucial role in the operations of an NGO. And that’s why NGOs respect every penny of your donation and maximise its potential towards achieving their goals pertaining to their respective causes. For example, if you donate towards PETA, you are ensuring animal rights; if you are donating towards Save Green, you are helping to increase green cover and the like. Similarly, when you donate to Akshaya Patra, you are contributing towards school lunch for children in government and government-aided schools. This means while you are supporting a cause you are also saving tax under 80G deduction.

As they say, ‘change does not happen overnight’, it takes a lot of perseverance, commitment, and dedication. Hence, only with a continuous concerted effort from all of us can bring about the change we want to see. For example: when you donate towards the Mid-Day Meal Programme, you are supporting children to continue schooling by countering hunger. This will create a nourished and educated generation who will be assets for their families in particular and the nation in general. So, while you support the healthy development of children, you are also receiving income tax exemption.

Well then, wouldn’t it be a good idea to invest in a noble cause while you also save tax? Go ahead, be the change-maker. Choose to donate and save tax.

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Discussion Room

Let’s build a future free of hunger

Eradicate hunger

The Global Hunger Report released this year came out with an unexpected result about the malnutrition levels in India. The country which will soon have smart cities and has fourth highest number of billionaires in the world is ranked at 100 out of the 119 countries that were surveyed.

The Telegraph, a newspaper published from Kolkata, quotes Pramod Kumar Joshi, agricultural economist and IFPRI South Asia director, where he says, “Despite a massive scale-up of national nutrition-focused programmes, drought and structural deficiencies have left large numbers of poor in India at risk of malnourishment.”

The number is more shocking because all our neighbouring countries are ranked before us, except Pakistan which is ranked 106. India shares its ranking with Rwanda in East Africa.

Global Hunger Index

It is a multidimensional statistical tool which determines hunger situation in various countries. It is updated every year.

It is generated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and was first published in 2006. The international agricultural research center conducts a stringent survey before coming up with this report. With ranking, the report every year focuses on one topic. The topic for 2017 is around inequality and hunger.

Role of Akshaya Patra

The Akshaya Patra Foundation runs the largest NGO-run mid-day meal programme. It has been working with a mission to ensure that no child in India is deprived of education due to hunger. From our 34 kitchens locate in 32 locations across India, over 1.6 million children get their school lunch. The dishes are prepared in a way that the meal meets the nutritional guidelines prescribed by the Government under Mid Day Meals Programme. The programme has been running successfully with support from State and Central Government.

At Akshaya Patra, we continuously leverage technology in our state-of-the-art kitchens. These kitchens have become a subject of study. They attract curious visitors from around the world.

The food supplied from these kitchens ensure that the children get healthy meal once in a day. This ensures that they become healthy. Be a part of the change. Contribute with The Akshaya Patra Foundation to ensure that our future generation grows up to be healthy and well-educated.

Donate to feed the children and make a hunger free nation.

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Discussion RoomFood and Education

Literacy – A Tool to Word the Roadmap for Development

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International Literacy Day, observed on September 8 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), commemorates its 50-year anniversary in 2016. This day recognises the importance of literacy and promotes it through engagement on national and international levels. It is being celebrated under the banner ‘Reading the Past, Writing the Future’ this year.

According to the 2011 census, India’s literacy rate was 74.04% (82 .14% among males and 65.46% among females). The nation has made strides in literacy rate, with active efforts from the Government and organisations like The Akshaya Patra Foundation through its initiatives like food for education, but there is still a long way to go. The cause of literacy must certainly be on the top of the agenda for social improvement, as high rates of literacy benefit the individual and society in numerous ways. Here are some of them:

Brighter career prospects
Being able to read and write enhances the promise of a brighter future and financial security. Literacy fuels the pursuit of education, which is a prerequisite if one has to make a mark in society and bring about a revolution.

Boosts confidence and creates better self-image 
The ability to read and write instills confidence in people. The very act of being able to understand the written word and express oneself in writing is empowering, both socially and psychologically.

Increases social and political awareness  
Literacy is one of the key cornerstones of a society that is conscious of its strengths and limitations and mindful of important happenings in the nation and the world. This enhances the public sense of social responsibility, powered by greater awareness.

Helps in discovering the joy of books, new worlds and new ideas 
Perhaps the most magical part about being able to read and write is the pleasure of being able to become lost in books. Discovering new worlds, ideas, stories and philosophies expands one’s worldview and makes them appreciate the staggering diversity of thought and culture in the world.

A keystone to nation-building and economic progress 
Literate, well-educated adults make it possible for a country to reach the summit of economic progress. This kind of development is inclusive, with equal growth opportunities for people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Literacy can also help combat gender inequality – a major concern that needs to be addressed throughout the world.

Let’s come together to educate the children of India. While this would help them in their personal growth, it will also take the country towards positive development. Donate for education in India today to support the cause.

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Discussion Room

6 Parenting skills can shape your child’s future

Helathy Children

Parents are said to be the first teacher children have. The responsibility of ensuring that the child is brought up in a healthy environment and gets the right education and nutrition lies on their shoulders. But what if the parent ensures that the child gets right education by sending them to school but a nutritious meal is something they can’t afford?

The Akshaya Patra Foundation aims to fill in the gaps with its school lunch programme, where the meals are calibrated for providing the right nutrition at the age when their body is growing. This will ensure that their body remains healthy when they grow to adulthood.

Our kitchen staff – which contains both men and women – cook food with utmost love and care to ensure that its tastes delicious and children look forward to it every day. Utmost hygiene is maintained to ensure that the food remains fresh and healthy till the time it reaches children, whose school is sometimes located 100 km away from the kitchen.

While we serve unlimited meals to over 1.6 million children every school day, the parents are left with another task to direct their energies in making sure that they are lead towards positive development. For this, parenting skills play an important role. While there are multiple ways to bring up children, some basic parenting skills go a long way in ensuring their bright future.

Parenting-skills

What are the tips you apply to ensure your children become a responsible individual? Comment below

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Discussion Room

How to make a difference with a CSR activity

Support Akshaya Patra

Just as the children get back to school to start their new academic year, the next perk they score for being a regular at school is a nutritious lunch, which in turn leads to better health. Akshaya Patra has been working towards it through Mid-Day Meal Programme which is benefitting over 1.6 million children every day. The support offered by various corporate companies through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative has helped Akshaya Patra reach the milestone of serving 2 billion meals in 2016.

As Corporate Social Responsibility becomes a means to engage with the society, corporates can also adopt various practices to ensure that they leave a long-lasting impact on the society. It can be divided in three segments:

Community Service

Raising awareness about a social cause can contribute quite a bit towards developing the society. Bringing awareness about a seasonal disease or fighting against stigma and discrimination of any kind, all these require a campaign which can reach the minds of people and lead to change in their actions. This way a developed society can be built.

A recent example is of NetApp, a data management and cloud storage solutions company, where they launched their Global Volunteer Programme. Called Food For All, the programme was conceptualised after realising the number of people who go hungry every single day. The company encouraged people to pledge at least eight hours towards social service.

They even donated insulated vessels along with other items to facilitate operations at Akshaya Patra. To continue serving the children, about 40 volunteers from NetApp visit Akshaya Patra every month between 9:30 am to 3 pm. They contribute towards pre-processing activities ranging from washing and cleaning cauldrons, vessels and vehicles to segregating pulses, de-husking coconut.

Helping NGOs reach their goal

While community service takes a company closer to the beneficiaries, supporting the NGO with required equipment can be another way towards making a social change. The equipment can be anything, from cooking utensils to vans.

Many corporates who partner with Akshaya Patra provide cooking equipment like cauldrons, equipment for storing the food like Hot Insulated Vessels to keep food hot for 8-10 hours, vans which again have insulators and ensure that the food reaches schools without spilling.

SBI Donates Vessels

In April 2017, State Bank of India donated 1,250 hot insulated vessels to Akshaya Patra which would be distributed among kitchens in Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and Nathdwara kitchens.

Another such example is of Snapdeal who supported Akshaya Patra by pledging daal for one million meals. They invited their customers to donate towards the campaign which was started in March. The campaign reached four times higher their set target and currently they have managed to provide daal for four million meals.

Uber also supported the campaign with messages reflected in their app-messages and cards. These motivated the riders to pledge their contribution towards the cause. Huawei came forward to make an equally matched contribution to Akshaya Patra.

Protecting environment

Environment literacy is just a part of the contribution you can make towards welfare of the society. Reusing the organic waste to produce biogas can be a great way of making the best use of kitchen waste.
We at Akshaya Patra have been adopting a similar practice at our kitchens across the country. As part of our Go Green initiative, the first biogas unit was set up at our Ballari kitchen. The plant processes 1,000 kg of kitchen waste per day that includes vegetable rejects, cooked food waste, replacing LPG. On an average this technology helps us save around three LPG cylinders per day.

A similar biogas plant has also been installed in our Vasanthapura kitchen in Bengaluru. This plant produces 1,400 kilograms of biogas monthly that is equal to 700 kilograms of LPG. Hence approximately Rs 38,500 is saved every month towards LPG purchase. Besides reducing cost towards purchasing LPG, it also helps in eco-friendly handling of food wastages approximately 20 metric tonne every month.
With the help of Tata Trust, similar units will be set up at our kitchens all over the country.

To become a corporate partner with Akshaya Patra, write to us at infodesk@akshayapatra.org

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Discussion Room

The domino effect: the unseen impact of child labour

world day against child labour

Can you imagine your life and successes without the education you received? Many children in India are robbed of the opportunities for advancement that a good education brings because they are pushed into labour for financial sustenance. On June 12, World Day Against Child Labour, an initiative of the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO), is observed around the world, to bring attention to the issue of child labour and the efforts and action needed to eliminate it.

According to the Census of India 2011 there are 43.53 lakh children between the age group of 5-14 years employed in various occupations. Although this figure has reduced drastically compared to the results of the Census of India 2001 which calculated 1.26 crore working children from the same age group, India still has a long way to go to become child-labour free.

Child labour is most prevalent in third world countries where poverty is rampant. Because parents lack the skills and opportunities to provide adequately for their families, children have to take up employment to help the household make ends meet. In an alternative form of child labour that is often ignored, children also frequently stay at home to look after their siblings and manage household chores, freeing their parents to work the whole day. This means that they have to drop out of school (or never enroll in the first place) to take their place as earning members of the family.

Watch Akshaya Patra’s inspiring video against child labour – The Possibilities – featuring the song Naan Yen, with music by none other than the maestro – AR Rahman

Child labour has consequences that are hard to imagine. Like a domino it has the power to tumble national progress, innovation, social security and many other factors if left unaddressed.

  • Perpetuates the cycle of poverty – Because children don’t have the opportunity to study and attend classes they are denied the opportunity to hone their skills for the future. This keeps them in a position of economic disadvantage, and the cycle of poverty and child labour is passed on to future generations.
  • Negative impact on the nation – Child labour has effects that reach far beyond the individual, family or community. It has a national impact that affects the growth and prosperity of the country as a whole. Child labour affects the country across different parameters:
    1. Forced to give up on their education in favour of employment, thousands of children grow up to be disadvantaged, unskilled members of the work force. This loss of income in turn lowers the country’s economic growth each year.
    2. Poor access to proper education causes the population to grow up unaware of their basic democratic rights and duties. Without the citizens playing an active role in their nation’s progress and governing policies, the country cannot flourish.
    3. Child labour forces children to work in hazardous and traumatic conditions with poor hygiene that affects their productivity in the future, negatively affecting the nation’s long term health.
    4. Due to the easy availability of inexpensive child labour, manufacturers are loathe to upgrade production processes and invest in fixed capital. This stunts the nation’s technological advancement and reduces efficiency of production to a large extent.
    5. Poor access to education due to child labour serves to also enhance the huge inequality of wages between skilled and unskilled labour. This chasm causes the rich to get richer, while the poor spiral deeper into poverty.

Child labour is a social evil that affects each of us on some level. One certain way of fighting against it – and winning – is to provide access to affordable education.

By serving the daily school lunch, Akshaya Patra helps combat child labour by providing food for education to children in need. This programme brings children out of the workshops and into the classroom by relieving them of the burden of working for their daily meal. Join us in doing this and more in our fight to end classroom hunger. Donate to Akshaya Patra today!

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Discussion Room

Skill development in India: A dire need

TAPFSKILL

Skill is the ability to do something well. And when it comes to skill development in India, a lot of initiatives have been happening in the past two years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Skill India programme in May 2015 with an aim of training 40 crore people in India in various skills by the year 2022.

Why skill development in India is crucial?

Skill development today is especially important for students because Indian students have often been found to be unemployable by multi-national companies. While many leave the country for greener pastures, many young people in India find themselves under-qualified for jobs. Why do we need skill training? How does it help the individual in the future?

Advantages of Skill India

The Skill India initiative aims at reversing the brain drain and making the youth of India skilful and self-dependent. Among the various advantages of Skill India are: better productivity, development of skills at school level, confidence building among youth, involvement of rural and remote areas, etc.

The skill development programme especially excites NGOs such as Akshaya Patra that are actively involved in the field of education by serving wholesome lunch in Indian schools. As is outlined in a blog here, the organisation is committed to participating in any initiative that involves skill development for students and youth.

The organisation aims at bringing dropped-out children back to school by motivating them through mid-day meals. These are good quality nutritious meals that encourage children to attend school every day. That way, students are able to attain basic education that’s vital for developing their skills in future.

In addition, Akshaya Patra also works to enhance the skills of the entire workforce that’s involved in the serving of mid-day meals. In association with the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the organisation conducts training programme for cooks and helpers of the Mid-Day Meal Programme. Similarly, the government is partnering with several other organisations as part of the skill development programme so the youth in India feels confident to choose their professions and jobs. This time, the focus is shifted from traditional professions and directed towards vocational training and interest-based programmes in rural and remote areas of the country.

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Discussion Room

Children, the unseen victims of climate change!

Disaster Banner

Natural disasters affect millions every year and their impact is cataclysmic. These calamities wreak havoc, forcing people to abandon their homes. Lives are lost and large-scale evacuations disrupt accessibility to basic hygiene, education, health care and most importantly food supplies.

In the past decades, almost every nation has been impacted by the effects of natural calamities. Hence in 2001, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, where over 2,000 scientists from 100 countries participated; concluded that it is the humans who are playing the predominant role in causing these alarming changes in climate.

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Nepal post 2015 earthquake

COP 21, 2015 reiterates the same notion. This seminal conference held in Paris, came together with the aim to improve the present scenario of global climate change. Delegates negotiated to reach a legally binding climate change agreement for all the nations of the world. This new universal climate change agreement expects to keep the ‘increase in global temperature below 2 degree Celsius’. This objective was earlier recognized in COP15, hosted in 2009 in Copenhagen but no all abiding agreement was reached upon.

Every nation is aware that with the current rate at which atmospheric warming and carbon dioxide accumulation is happening; things are going to get worse without intervention. Alpine and Polar ice is melting, the oceans are heating up, circumpolar winds are gearing pace and moreover the stratosphere is heating up causing the ‘ozone shield’ to grow thinner. Given the present rate of carbon dioxide buildup, it is evident that the world is entering uncharted seas.

These natural calamities triggered by anthropogenic actions have widespread effects on the entire population especially the children. Displaced populations, health risks, food security, emotional aftershocks and education for children are the most hit sectors affecting child health during a natural disaster.

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Schools destroyed in natural disasters

Food insecurity becomes extreme after natural calamities hit a nation. Millions of children starve owing to the failing crops and dearth of agricultural supplies. Children experience hunger crisis leading to ill health, starvation, under-nutrition and disease. Respiratory diseases and immunosuppression is manifested visibly in the affected children. Hunger pangs become widespread and the child mortality rate is hit.

Hunger gives rise to malnutrition in children. This is majorly caused due to insufficient nutrients in food supplies. This leads to severe weight loss and stunting of growth. According to the British Medical Journal, “malnutrition in children can also adversely hinder brain development and intellectual capacity in the early stages of life.”

The child psyche is also perturbed by the effects of a natural disaster. Loss of home and loved ones create in children a sense of emotional insecurity leading to emotional distress often known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This leads to low concentration and increased irritability causing education to suffer. Children constantly manifest different behavioural pattern that acts as a detriment for their cognitive thinking.

Education suffers immensely due to these anthropogenic natural calamities. Educational facilities are destroyed and paucity of funds leads to sluggish recovery of schools and affected infrastructure. In the 2010 Haiti earthquake, over 4,000 schools were affected and took several months to resume classes. Similarly, 11,000 schools collapsed in the Pakistan Floods back in 2010 while the earthquake in 2005 killed more than 17,000 children.

Cambodia’s children have also been similarly affected – kids accounted for 80% of deaths in the devastating floods of 2000; whilst floods in 2001 and 2002 also caused extensive destruction to school infrastructure. Death and destruction are not just the only concern. Importance of child education receives a setback owing to trouble in accessing schools, high drop-out rates, dilapidated school infrastructure, classroom curriculum and assessment procedures are all adversely affected due to the aftermath of natural disasters.

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Children study in make-shift classrooms

When Nepal recorded 7.8 on the Richter scale on April 25, a total or a partial collapse of over 5,000 schools was reported. Classrooms were no more conducive for regular classes to be held. Schools had now become relief shelters for people. The massive disruption caused by this earthquake and aftershocks on school infrastructure has reverberated strongly into children’s development. Every year such incidents are reported.Typhoon Haiyan ravaged more than 2,500 schools, affecting 1.4 million children in the Philippines in 2013. The recent floods in Malawi also affected hundreds of schools, disrupting education for 350,000 children and more.

Hence we can conclude that natural disasters pose a severe threat to our children’s lives. While summits like COP21 undertake a crucial task of combating climate change on a macro level, we need to also consider the immediate measures we can take to save the children from the ravages of natural disasters. Therefore we would like to know from you, how unanimously we can come up with disaster prevention, disaster mitigation and disaster preparedness programmes to reduce natural calamities from affecting children.

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Discussion Room

Because, the change starts with me!

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“The hand that rocks the cradle, the pro-creator, the mother of tomorrow; a woman shapes the destiny of civilization. Such is the irony, that a beautiful creation such as the girl child is today one of the gravest concerns facing humanity.”

When we look into areas of ushering change; when we talk high about empowering women, encouraging change; education of the girl child is most pressing. “When you educate a man, you educate an individual and when you educate a woman, you educate an entire family.” This thought is manifold; self-confidence, intelligence, determination and independence are what education endows a woman with paving the way for her to make a progressive family.

If we delve deeper into this, we can certainly understand that girls not attending school, seem to be higher in number than boys. Millions of girls every single year are denied accesses to protection, psycho-social support and most importantly the right to education. Owing to this, girls are being continually subjected to sexual assault, domestic violence and deprived childhood. Sexual health and reproductive rights are contravened every single day and most women stay mute!

The blessing is that, India contains in her a steel determination in reaching education to all her children, predominantly her girls. India has proudly declared education as a fundamental right which secures constitutional provisions for the girl child to receive compulsory free education. Campaigns like the ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ reiterate the importance of elementary education and its effect on our society.

Often educated women too are subject to persecution which restricts their inner potential from impacting the country’s development. Complete denial of independence aggravates gender inequalities and prepares women to remain in confinements perpetually. All of this subjugation stems primarily from prejudice that abounds in our society. ‘Girls are irrational, domestic beings and most importantly slow learners, then why bother educating them?’ is the thought that governs most minds.

This thought needs to change. It is time we start observing women as winds of change! A boorish ignorant mother soon needs to be wiped away from India’s face so that matters of hygiene and sanitation can be taught to the girl child right from her tender years. Malnourishment, a living illustration of this problem needs to be tackled vehemently by both the government and the society so that the health of the girl child is not compromised upon.

Programmes like ‘Mahila Samakhya Program’, ‘National Program for Education of Girls at Elementary Level’ (NPEGEL), ‘Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme’, are all initiatives by the government to ensure that the girl child is not bereft of education but unfortunately the scenario has not changed much. The question that still remains unanswered is ‘why’. ‘Why hasn’t there been change when it was expected too?’

The problem is not with the state apparatus, the problem exists in the mind. It is the way of thinking that needs to be changed; people’s commitment towards educating a girl needs to be concrete. It needs to be all pervasive. From somewhere we have to start and the change needs to initiate with us! Further we can diffuse this thought to those who would care to listen. A tiny step today will definitely metamorphose into a giant leap tomorrow!

Do write back to us and tell us how we can open up more avenues and opportunities for the girl child. Collectively as a nation what else can be done to empower the girl child.

 

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