“Your total bill amount is Rs. 3,542”, said the cashier as he handed over the bill to me.
I took out my wallet, paid him the amount. And, as he was packing the items in a bag, I wondered ‘has my needs increased, am I buying impulsively, or has the prices of the commodities skyrocketed.’
Graphically speaking, I fail to understand how my grocery bill constantly shows an upward trend every month. I don’t remember when was the last time somebody handed me a bill of below Rs. 1,000. It does bother me, but again with the usual humdrum and busy schedule, I forget about it until the next shopping. And, then came the moment of truth when on a regular day at work, I saw my colleague donating to an NGO named The Akshaya Patra Foundation. After she finished her transaction, I enquired about the NGO. Her reply completely left me amazed.
She said, “Akshaya Patra is an NGO for children that provide food to government school children on every school day. The NGO has been operating the school meal programme for the past 17 years. It has a pan-India presence and presently serves school lunch to more than 1.6 million children.” At this, I stopped her and said that it must be a really expensive affair because grocery for one household itself costs somewhere between Rs. 2,500 – Rs. 3,000. My colleague smiled and said, “Akshaya Patra feeds 3 children for an entire year with Rs. 2,850.” And, she pointed towards the donation page of the NGO. I was totally stumped at what I had just heard and what I was seeing on the screen.
She added, “Though I am in a situation where I can afford food, I know how the hunger pangs feel. On the days when I have to skip my breakfast and rush to office, or skip my lunch to complete a report, my body and mind give up. It becomes very difficult to remain focussed on what I am doing. Well then, what about those children who aren’t even sure of getting their next meal. This particular fact drew me to support Akshaya Patra’s cause because their effort ensures at least one nutritious meal per day. That’s why on every special occasion like my birthday, my parents anniversary or during festivals I make online donations for NGO.”
And, before I could process all that she was saying, my colleague scrolled down the page and said, “When you donate to Akshaya Patra, you also become eligible for 80G deduction on your donated amount. This means the amount you donate becomes eligible for tax exemption, a benefit that you can utilise at the time of income tax filing.”
That evening, to find answers to the innumerable questions popping in my head, I read up on the humongous task that Akshaya Patra is doing. In the end, I realised that maybe I can never bring down my grocery bill, but I sure can ensure nutritious meals for children for an entire year with an amount less than my monthly grocery expense. And convinced with Akshaya Patra’s endeavour, I took my first ever step towards contributing charity!