PPP model best suited for implementing Mid day meals

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According to minister of State for Human Resources Development, Govt. of India D Purandeswari, over 13 crore children across the country are receiving benefits from the mid-day meal scheme. But the concern is how well this scheme is working? The planning commission of India, which evaluated the scheme at the ground level found several shortcomings in the implementation of the scheme. As recommendation, the plan panel has suggested that public private partnership will ensure better delivery of services and therefore a better performance of the scheme. Launched in 2005, the school meal programme is one of the most successful programme of govt. of India. It aims to protect children from classroom hunger, increase school enrollment and attendance, check malnutrition and empower underprivileged section of society. The study of the planning commission focused on to assess the extent to which CMDM (cooked mid-day meal), availability of infrastructure for implementation of CMDM, improvement in attendance, retention and nutritional status of children and to assess to the extent to which CMDM has succeeded in achieving the objectives. The study also tried to find out the impact of CMDM on teaching and learning activities in schools. The survey covered 17 states, 48 districts, 480 schools and 4,800 beneficiary students for a period of six years. Some of the findings in the report are: Teachers were found to be actively engaged in implementation of the scheme, which was adversely affecting the teaching process. Pupils spend an average of 9.83 hours a week in washing dishes and utensils in Rajasthan schools. About 75% schools running mid-day meal scheme have no access to drinking water in states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkand, Maharashtra,Meghalaya and West Bengal. Students too spend considerable time in washing utensils that was adversely affecting the learning process. Average time spent by students in washing utensils was 15 minutes (Jammu & Kashmir) to 9.83 hrs (Rajasthan) in a week in the sample selected states. Rajasthan was at the forefront with nearly 50% found involved in washing utensils, closely followed by West Bengal (45.1%) and Arunachal Pradesh (38.14%). According to the study, the scheme has not even been able to dispense the “economic reason” which prevents children from coming to school, which was its main objective. As per the data collected, only 23% from SC and 13% from ST category have been benefiting from the scheme. About one fifth of the beneficiaries in Bihar, Rajasthan and West Bengal reported that they do not get adequate meals at school. While, a large number of students expressed satisfaction about quality of meal in Rajasthan (80%) but other states like Bihar about 72% of the beneficiaries have responded that the quality of food is poor and 77% say that they are not satisfied. Experts too support the planning commission’s recommendation on PPP mode as one of the best model for better service and performance of the scheme. According to D. Jagannatha Rao, former bureaucrat and renowned educationalist who authored a book on Elementary Education in India: Status, Issues and Concerns argues that the Akshaya Patra Program bears an eloquent testimony to the efficacy of successful collaborative efforts between governments and the foundation. The inherent strength that Akshaya Patra stresses is that willingness to work in remote areas, ability to set in motion a participatory process in identification of the needs, the design and implementation of programmes, the readiness to mobilize and use local resources, effective service delivery and freedom to innovate.

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Government encourages voluntary contributions

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In 2003, a committee, headed by the former Chief Justice of India* recommended Akshaya Patra as an eligible project that could raise donations with 100% tax benefits to the donors. The program was reviewed again in 2006 and 2009 when 100% tax benefits were further extended for 3 years.

This has been crucial to Akshaya Patra, as it enabled the Foundation to raise the funds required for sustenance and growth. Despite the Government’s generous subsidies, we still rely heavily on the contributions of our kind donors to maintain the day to day operations.
The Private-Public Partnership model followed by Akshaya Patra ensures that the mid-day meal program is conducted within the guidelines of the Government. These guidelines (issued by Ministry of Human Resources Department) contain the following clause:

 “The state government shall be fully responsible in implementing the program through NGOs support either for a cooked meal or pre cooked food variant in eligible schools.   To this extent the State Government or the NGO concerned, may mobilize resources for conversion of food grains in to a cooked meal.”
–    The Guidelines, in Annexure IX Para 7
Akshaya Patra’s application to the National Committee contained the following basis for the sustainability of the program:

•    Conversion cost support from State Govt         25%
•    Subsidized grain allotment                               25%
•    Donations                                                         45%
•    Others                                                                5%

In addition, the Trust Deed, filed with the various departments of the government, states:
8.xi To accept gifts, donations or contributions from individuals, corporate and non-profit organizations around the world so far as they are not inconsistent with the objects of the trust.

Nation building through civic partnership is also a very important aspect of the Government’s mid-day meal program. Therefore, voluntary contributions from the community to improve the meal are encouraged by the Guidelines of revised National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education, 2004.

Akshaya Patra also tries to implement this aspect in its program by bringing together the movers and shakers of India to help close to 1.2 million children across the nation. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Sri Narayan Murthy, Smt Sudha Murthy, Smt Rajshree Birla, Sri Sajjan Jindal and Sri Sunil Mittal are just some of the leading members of society who are donors and well wishers of Akshaya Patra. In fact, in the year 2002, when we formally launched the fund raising for the Akshaya Patra program, the then Education Minister in Karnataka, Sri H.Vishwanath was the first person to contribute towards the program.

On a global level, the Foundation hopes to raise awareness for the mid-day meal program and increase support for the children of our country from people the world over. Any funds raised from foreign countries through our campaign are permitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, under Foreign Contributions (Regulations) Act. These make up only around 10% of our total requirements. All statements of donations received are reported to the Home Ministry year after year.

In fact, the Foundation has strong culture of reporting and transparency that complies with sound disclosure norms. The Gold Shield for Financial Reporting was conferred to the Akshaya Patra by the Institute of Chartered Accounts of India for our excellence in reporting.

In everything that we do, we have maintained strong ethics and adhered to all the guidelines and regulations set by the Government. Through it all, our only hope is to reach out to the children of our nation.

* the National Committee for Promotion of Social and Economic Welfare, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India)

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Akshaya Patra to feed drought-affected children in Rajasthan

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Rajasthan, the nation’s largest state, has long been considered one of India’s brightest jewels. Adorned with a rich, vibrant cultural history and beautiful landscape, it is one of the most favored tourist destinations of the country. With parts of the Indus Valley Civilization located in Rajasthan, it is considered the cradle of India’s birth.

However, Rajasthan’s glorious past is in stark contrast to the reality it faces today. The state is continually hit with severe drought that cripples the thousands of people in the region who survive on agriculture. In fact, in the last 100 years, it has been hit with 84 droughts.

This year again, the Government of Rajasthan has declared ‘Akal’ or drought in the Nathdwara district of the state. In October of 2002 when it last faced such a situation, nearly 40 million people were affected and 50 million livestock suffered. With so many severe situations constantly recurring, the State Government of Rajasthan has taken various steps to bring relief to the area. It is working with the United Nations Development Program to strengthen its co-ordination systems and revive traditional water harvesting structures. Many other organizations are also involved in Rajasthan’s efforts to combat the problems being faced.

Akshaya Patra is one such organization. On the request of the State Government of Rajasthan, our kitchen in Nathdwara is now functioning around the year to provide food for drought-affected children in the area. By doing so, we hope to bring relief and provide any help we can to the beautiful and charming people of Rajasthan.

Source: United Nations Development Program

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Akshaya Patra pledges to GO GREEN…on the occasion of WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY

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Akshaya Patra Foundation, the largest school meal program feeding more than 1.2 million children every day with the aim to eliminate poverty and hunger has also established themselves in the field of innovation and technology. On the occasion of World Environment Day, The Akshaya Patra Foundation has taken another leaning step in serving the society and its natural resources by taking eco friendly initiatives to conserve the energy resources and thereby create a better ecological environment.   The proposed task include –
Use of Briquette run boilers instead of diesel run boilers, wherein the briquettes are made out of groundnut husk or rice bran(bi products of the cooking oil industry), thereby saving on 788.95MT of carbon and reduce our carbon foot print to an enormous extent.
Adopted standardization of vessel washing technique, whereby they were able to recycle more than 50% of consumed water. The Akshaya Patra Foundation has come up with this initiative of standardization of vessel washing so that they could save up lot of water and also recycle consumed water to reuse again.
These efforts would surely mark a positive contribution towards our Mother Earth.
Akshaya Patra Foundation works towards sustainable development and believes that with the effective and efficient use of technology we can remove hunger and poverty and make this planet a better place for our children to live in.

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