If there was ever an evil to fight against, it’s malnutrition. Though it requires our constant vigilance, our battle rage, and inexhaustible capacity to fight, we must win against this insidious monster. To borrow the words of Dylan Thomas,
‘Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light’
Malnutrition is a serious danger to India, and one that The Akshaya Patra Foundation is trying to combat every day. We see it around us every day, on the one side the opulent and successful, and the other, the starving and destitute. This is the paradox of India today. How can such wealth exist alongside such heart wrenching, overwhelming poverty?
According to UNICEF, one in every three malnourished children in the world live in India, while CRY (Child Rights and You) says in a report that 79 per cent of the children across India are anaemic. The report highlighted some unsettling facts about the condition of children in India. 11.8 per cent of children are engaged in some form of child labour, nearly 45 per cent of girls are married before the age of 18, and the national school dropout rate at the elementary level is 40 per cent.
We are fighting an uphill battle against the poverty that threatens to creep up and choke the life out of our society. But we are gaining ground and momentum with time. The Akshaya Patra Foundation today serves nutritious, tasty mid-day meals to over 1.3 million children, in government schools across the country every day. With a mission to reach 5 million children by 2020, Akshaya Patra now has kitchens in 21 locations across 9 states of India.
Recognising the disparity between the fortunate and those less, modern day India has risen to the challenge of trying to bring their country out of the grips of poverty. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs, individual donations and grants, and the young and old volunteering their time, money and strength to the cause have helped make all the difference.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation was able to open its latest kitchen in Rourkela with the support of a Rs 8.24 crore donation made by the Steel Authority of India (SAIL), Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) as part of their CSR initiative called Project Akshaya Patra. The undertaking is expecting to feed 57,000 children across 431 schools in the region.
Though the problem may be daunting, it is with programs like Akshaya Patra’s that we can make a concrete difference. By addressing the issue of malnutrition in children, helping to decrease school dropout rates and adding Anganwadi programs to ensure sufficient nutrition for pregnant, lactating mothers, and their infants; Akshaya Patra fights on to keep the wheels of change in motion.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation on LinkedIn