When the British left India in 1947, India had a long way to go to overcome poverty and illiteracy. Though it was not easy; India has made great strides in this regard since independence. However, the initiative to make changes in the society started long back before we got freedom from foreign rule and was mainly marked with the emergence of non-government organisations (NGOs) in the 19th century. Since then, NGOs have served as backbones of our development. Today, India is home to more than 31 lakh NGOs and The Akshaya Patra Foundation, is one of them. The role of NGO varies from ending classroom hunger to providing education for underserved children in India. The organisation receives donation for children from different parts of the world to feed millions of students in India.
Though overall development has been the main focus, NGOs also play various roles in India, including health, child education, hunger, child labour and rural development. However, only a few, like The Akshaya Patra Foundation has succeeded in making large strides. The NGO started its humble efforts to fight classroom hunger in June 2000. However it was only in November 2001, the Supreme Court of India ordered all State Governments and Union Territories to start a mid-day meal scheme for school children. The organisation was soon recognised as an implementing arm of the Government. Impressed with the quality of the school lunch programme run by the NGO, many State Governments have partnered with the organization in India.
The Role of NGO in the expansion of the Mid-Day Meal programme is really noteworthy. The NGO, which has actively volunteered and stood for the cause, at present, feeds over 1.4 million children in 10,845 Government schools and Government-aided schools in 24 locations across 10 states in India. It is also considered to be the world’s largest NGO-run mid-day meal programme.
Apart from ending classroom hunger, the role of NGO has extended to improve school attendance, school enrolment rates, nutritional status of children and women empowerment. Over the past 15 years, people from different parts of the world have supported the initiative. No wonder, The Akshaya Patra Foundation has 24 kitchens across the country.
Here is the video of a child talking about mid day meal gives hope for his dream.
The Mid-Day Meal programme of Akshaya Patra has been running mainly through receiving donation for children. Supporting the programme is not a costly affair and donation for children starts from ₹750 onwards. Additionally, the organisation also gives an opportunity to donate in memory of or in honour of someone you love or respect. Of them all, the most important definitely, is the tax exemption donations. Donation of ₹ 500 or above is eligible for 100% tax exemption in India.
There is no doubt in the fact that, NGOs such as Akshaya Patra has helped build a better India. However, we want to expand our programme to 5 million children by 2020.
The situation will be far better, if each one of us come forward and participate in the programme to support the organization to feed the children for education.