Brimful of Anna

When Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandava princes was faced with the prospect of not being able to feed the Brahmins during the vana-vasa, he was advised by Rishi Dhoumya to perform the Akshaya Patra Sadhana. With this sadhana, he would be in possession of a special vessel that would offer unlimited quantities of anything he wished – food, wealth, ornaments etc. Yudhishtira then performed the sadhana and obtained the Akshaya Patra. With the help of this patra, he was able to feed any number of brahmins who came to his doorstep. Such was the magic quality of this patra. To read a detailed story and the sadhana process, check this page. You can also check the page reference to Akshaya Patra.

In today’s context, ISKCON has been involved in the noble endeavour of feeding the needy in the form of the mid-day meal scheme. This noble program, started by ISKCON-Bangalore, was named the Akshaya Patra Program for its obvious roots in the Mahabharata. And today the program has spawned across to 13 towns and cities across India and spreading its goodness successfully.

As per the Akshaya Patra Program, they provide nutritious food to millions of children who come from poor backgrounds. This helped in boosting the number of children who attended schools. Children from poorer sections of the society like those of daily wage labourers came to schools with the lure of free meals at school. The obvious and intended effect of the same was the education of these children. Education brings social upliftment and therefore eradication of poverty. However, as we all know, it is not an overnight change and will take a long time to bear fruit. But yes, the investment for a better and a brighter future is certainly there. You can learn more about the program at their website.

Salient features of the Akshaya Patra program:
1. It is a secular charitable organization
2. About 3.65 lakh children are being covered by the mid-day meal scheme in 13 locations across India.
3. Food prepared in strict hygenic conditions with automated machineries
4. Dedicated vehicles that transport the food in sterile containers that keep food from contamination and spoilage.

A graph of the number of children being covered under the program as of June 2006

Such charitable causes do require a lot of patronage. Thankfully, many MNCs and Indian companies have been involved in patronizing the cause. Individuals can also contribute whatever they wish to for this cause. I have also donated some amount for the cause, because I sincerely felt that this was a worthy cause.

BMP and ISKCON have been involved together in providing mid-day meals to BMP schools and colleges in and around Bangalore. The BMP will bear the costs of providing meals at secondary and pre-university colleges and half the cost of providing meals at day care centres and primary schools. On July 13th, BMP and ISKCON signed an agreement to extend their partnership. According to the Memorandum of Understanding, the foundation will provide midday meals to children from 79 day care centres, 12 primary schools, 33 secondary schools and 13 pre-university colleges. Rs. 200 crore has been allocated for this endeavour.

You can also refer to a case study by a UN funded research on the effectiveness of mid-day meal scheme.

To echo Swami Vivekananda’s thoughts – “It is an insult to the starving people to offer them religion”. Adding to it, (suitably modifying a popular quote) The way to any person’s heart is through the stomach. Provide them food heartily, and fill them with the mirth of The Lord, and they will grow up into an empowered and enlightened public. That will result in the true growth of a nation.

4 Comments so far

  1. Ravi (unregistered) on July 14th, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

    This is truly as successful a venture as it is a noble one! And just take a look at the Board of Trustees behind this scheme!
    If only the BMP can open its mind to similar such public-private partnerships, Bangalore/Karnataka can truly achieve a ‘Suvarna’ status sooner than later!
    Great post!

  2. ramses (unregistered) on July 14th, 2006 @ 11:17 pm

    RC, Yep, it’s a lovely scheme!

    but i guess i;ll post some day about the ground realities at some schools, soon.

  3. ramses (unregistered) on July 15th, 2006 @ 12:01 am

    jsut a recent article about it and it’s influence.

  4. rubic_cube (unregistered) on July 18th, 2006 @ 7:42 pm

    Thx – Ravi, Ramses! I am eager to know what you have to share reg. the program, Ramses… please!

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