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God’s Own Kitchen – Author Rashmi Bansal Chronicles Akshaya Patra’s Journey

Akshaya Patra Book

A significant journey – one that inspires and restores people’s faith in all that is good in the world – always had the humblest of beginnings. Akshaya Patra’s voyage for the cause of ‘unlimited food for education’ also started in a similar fashion in the year 2000. Now, the Foundation operates the world’s largest NGO-run Mid-Day Meal Programme, nourishing over 1.6 million children across India with its mid-day meals every day. This wonderful journey is now chronicled in a book titled God’s Own Kitchen by renowned author Rashmi Bansal.

Engagingly told by Ms Bansal, the book’s narrative is conversational and free-flowing. It tells Akshaya Patra’s tale in a deeply personal manner, with insights into the minds of its founders, when the organisation was in its nascent stage. Behind the force that is Akshaya Patra lays the sweat and determination it workforce – past and present. The book introduces many key figures of the Foundation to the reader, including its current Chairman Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa; Vice Chairman Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa; Chairman, Manipal Global Education Services, TV Mohandas Pai, who has made significant contributions to the Foundation, among others.

God’s Own Kitchen is also interspersed with interesting anecdotes. The setting up of new kitchens in different locations is always a challenging task and their backstories are quite amusing. India is a vast and varied country and every region has its peculiar sociocultural norms. These presented testing obstacles when it came to recruiting and training womenfolk in socially conservative regions, law and order scares, blurring the lines of social classes among children, so that they have their meals together in school, and the like. The book also throws light on how the organisation honed its famed hygiene practices and standards.

Over the years, the organisation has found support in many noted personalities from different walks of life. These include the 42nd President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton; former President of India, the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam; one of India’s foremost businessmen Ratan Tata. The book has exciting pictures and stories of their visits to Akshaya Patra, including a photo of a cheque of Rs 12,000 written by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for Akshaya Patra!

Classroom hunger is a bane that needs to be destroyed immediately. As the author says in her note in the book, “Let us open our hearts, or minds and our wallets to eradicate hunger from this country. Students and CEOs, swamis and socialites – we can do this together.” The cause needs the support of a greater number of hearts and minds and what better way to chronicle Akshaya Patra’s tireless service to it, than this wonderful book!

You can buy God’s Own Kitchen here.

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Celebrate for a Cause

We, the People of India | Creating a Progressive Future

Republic_Day_AkshayaPatra

The power of the people manifested itself to win India freedom from an oppressive colonial power in 1947 and January 26, 1950, cemented its position in history as a republic. We, the people of India, are the ones who made this Republic; who continue to make this Republic.

Every revolution in the world started with We, the people. The will of the ordinary man fused with that of his/her fellow citizens to form a force. This force, against oppression, against the denial of basic rights, became a movement and permeated the collective conscience of the people. It instigated them to rise in revolt against the forces that kept them from their right to liberty, justice, equality and a decent life.

The preamble of the Constitution of India talks about ‘EQUALITY of status and of opportunity’. One of the important means to ensure this equality is by making education and its fruits available to the children of this great nation, who are brimming with potential. Making this a reality is full of challenges. A study conducted by UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) jointly with Global Education Monitoring Report in 2016, found that 47 million children dropped out of school by Std X. It also revealed that India has the third highest number of out-of-primary school children at 2.9 million, who have never attended school. One of the biggest roadblocks to education in the country is poverty, the study found.

The statistics on school education in India may be worrying, but there is hope on the horizon. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme by the Government of India has helped the cause of education in the country widely. The mid-day meals provided in schools across the country have not only improved the health of children, but also resulted in a greater number of school enrolments. Akshaya Patra works in partnership with the Central and State governments of India to implement its Mid-Day Meal Programme, the largest of its kind in the world operated by an NGO.

With over 1.6 million beneficiaries in 11 Indian states, the Foundation’s ‘Unlimited Food for Education’ philosophy has fed the dreams of numerous children over the years. Its immediate mission is to feed 5 million children by 2020 every day, with a nutritious school lunch cooked in its ISO-certified, state-of-the-art kitchens.

Let your Republic Day celebration this year, be towards the fulfilment of the dreams of India’s young hearts and minds. Help the nation take a leap towards progress by contributing to a bright future lit with success and education.

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