The pen is mightier than the sword, as they say, and this New Year The Akshaya Patra Foundation in conjunction with Indiblogger.in, the largest online community in India for bloggers, proved just that. On Sunday, the 9th of January, Akshaya Patra and Indiblogger hosted a meet in Bangalore, where bloggers from across the nation came together for a common purpose: to explore the power of online media for the greater good of society.
The event was the culmination of a month long competition held by Akshaya Patra on the Indiblogger platform, where bloggers could write about the mid-day meal program and the impact it has had on children. Two bloggers with the best entries in the competition would then win a trip to Jaipur.
The online phenomenon resulted in over one hundred bloggers across India sharing their thoughts, ideas, beliefs and experiences to promote the vision of the Foundation, that ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.’
“I did not know the importance of food, till I moved out of my house…” writes one blogger, Richa Sharma from New Delhi, going on to explain how the simple gesture of giving food to hungry children on her way to work brought immense satisfaction. “I eventually changed my office and never even once bothered [about] what happened to those tiny dancing souls…”, she adds.“Then one day I got a mail from HR that some NGO is visiting our office and [asking] if we could attend their presentation. It was an institution that had something to do with providing lunches to children so as to instigate them to come to schools. And as I read the introductory mail, I was reminded of my little friends and a thought struck me, “what if i told them to come to school everyday and that they will get a good meal there, will they come?” And the answer was a definite Yes. And then I knew that Akshaya Patra has caught the right chord.”
Many topics were discussed and highlighted during the event, which the bloggers participated in with high energy and enthusiasm. One of the major challenges faced by the development sector is raising awareness for the work being done. A non-profit’s meager financial resources often pose a serious limitation on their capacity to reach out to the public.
“There are crores of children in our country facing this problem,” said Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman of Akshaya Patra. “Each person’s situation may be different in life, but there is one place where we should have equality, and that is food.” Compounding this problem is the reluctance on the part of traditional media to champion a specific charitable cause.
“We are the largest NGO in the world to conduct the mid-day meal program, but our own country doesn’t know about us,” said Shridhar Venkat, Executive Director of Akshaya Patra. “The biggest gift you can give us is communication,” he went on to add.
It was with this regard to raising awareness that the synergy of individuals made the greatest difference. According to Anoop Johnson, Co-founder, Indiblogger.in, “It has given bloggers a purpose and brought about focused content on a particular issue, which is incredible to see.”
The blogger’s meet was the first full fledged program of its kind held by the online community to focus on a social cause.
Perhaps the most satisfactory outcome of the day was the overwhelming response of writers to the idea of blogging for a cause. It gave people an opportunity to become a part of a social movement that is slowly bringing about significant change in India. (Today, the mid-day meal program has over 121 million children benefitting from the scheme, with Akshaya Patra directly impacting 1.2 million of them.)
By creating a platform for people to air their views and opinions, the blogger’s meet tapped into the most influential source for change: the power of the individual voice.