A heart touching tale of a Donor.

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After a long telephonic conversation about Akshaya Patra, Rajeev (Assistant Manager – Tele Collection) managed to get an appointment from Mrs. Reddy (name changed) a Headmistress of a Primary school. Rajeev was trying to schedule the appointment in the second half of the day as the place was quite far away, but she told in an uncompromising voice “be in my office sharp at 9 o’ clock.”

Next morning Rajeev reached school 10 minutes before time and met the donor (Mrs. Reddy). She looked very stern and strict and reminded him of his old school days. Rajeev wondered why the entire Headmistress clan looks alike. Why do all of them wear the same grave faces?

The clock ticked 9 and Mrs. Reddy walked in the room. She took Rajeev to the prayer hall where a few hundred students were standing in rows with their hands folded for prayer. A photo frame caught Rajeev’s attention…the picture was of a young man. After the prayer Mrs. Reddy walked up to the photograph and put a garland around it. She then distributed sweets among the students and gave one to Rajeev too. Rajeev asked her what was the occasion and she said with a smile – “today is my son’s birthday”. Rajeev was glad to see her smiling for the first time and asked her to convey his best wishes to her son. She looked at Rajeev and replied back saying “he is no more with us. He was my only son and was an orthopedic doctor by profession. He expired 6 months after he got married leaving behind his beautiful wife and his old mom. Me and my daughter in law wanted to do something special on his birthday and decided to feed the underprivileged children through a genuine organization. We were happy to find Akshaya Patra. ” Telling this she took out her cheque book and signed a cheque of rupees six thousand and handed it over to Rajeev. Rajeev was so moved that he could not help himself from touching her feet and left the school without saying anything.

There are thousands of people like Mrs. Reddy who have lost many things in life but are still optimistic about the future. They still believe that we can bring about change and make this planet a better place to live in. Akshaya Patra salutes such people with Great Spirit and moves ahead to reach out to 5 million children by 2020.

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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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