Independence Day: India Positive beneath the radar
IBNLive Blog - Aug 15, 2013
It's that time of the year once more. As the nation celebrates its 67st Independence day, there is a sense of pessimism that swirls the state of affairs in the country. Be it the political discourse or the economic realities in a recession bound world; the general impression is that positive things about the country are hardly heard in news discourse. In this context, I try to provide a few positive things about the country, positive anecdotes about 2 organizations and 2 individual people, things that would have beamed under the news radar.
Akshaya Patra and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme:
The Mid-day meals scheme is one of the largest found providing schemes in the world. Even though it was in the news recently for the wrong reasons, the government led scheme provides food to millions of children across the country. In partnership with the government, AkshayaPatra is one of the largest private NGOs to assist in this task. The organization distributes freshly cooked, healthy meals daily to 1.3 million under privileged children in 9000 government schools through 20 locations in 9 states across India. The organization provides meals with centralized and decentralized kitchens in all these locations. They also ensure that the hygiene and quality of the food is on par with what the rest of the young children across the country receive. This organization is a true example of what can be achieved without much fanfare yet has a significant impact in its activities.
Public delivery system that spearheaded Polio eradication campaign:
The world's largest democracy is polio free for the second consecutive year except for a few cases. To understand the magnitude of the task, we need to put it into context the amount of investment that has been invested by philanthropists such as Bill Gates in this endeavor. Spreading awareness about polio and eradicating it completely requires immense coordination between private donors and the public delivery system. For once, our public delivery system has delivered and these systemic best practices should be adopted across the board so as to help in confronting other health care related issues. Do we get to hear about it anywhere? Is this even publicized by the government as a matter of significant achievement?
Independence fighter to poverty fighter:
Saunak Bhattacharya is not an ordinary man. The 96-year-old,is a freedom fighter who has now become a poverty fighter. He is the founder of SRKS (Sri Ramakrishna Sevashram) which has set up 18 free schools in remote villages in the Sunderban area, around 40 odd kilometers from Kolkata. In addition, he is bringing up 67 orphan students who study and take care of all the work of SRKS. They also provide support to 29 senior citizens from nearby villages. The ideation and execution of this entire home by a 96 year old is no mean task; such acts would barely come out in the public domain since the TRP's would not yield to it. Here is an instance which should drive and inspire you this Independence Day.
The Pandey Family:
In the coastal town of Pondicherry, there is a home, "JeevanPrabath", which caters to orphans in that area. Not a big deal? The home in Pondicherry is run by a couple Mr and Mrs Pandey for orphans especially those who were affected by the tsunami that hit the coastline almost a decade ago. The couple had come down from Uttar Pradesh voluntarily almost 8 years ago; Mr Pandey left his cushy and comfortable job in Uttar Pradesh and decided to come to Pondicherry to help the needy. He says that he was guided by an inner voice that had guided him here. My first question to him was "Why would you want to come to a place where you didn't know the language? Why give up so much?". He answered with a comforting smile to his face "God wanted me here, I came here. Initially it was hard, now it provides me strength". As I walked through the home which he is running, the enormity of the task dawned on me. There were almost 20 odd young children in the home; imagine taking care of all their needs from dawn to dusk just by a couple! Besides a few other assistants, the only support that they have is their mental strength and grit. As I left the home, I asked him if he goes back home to UP often. He nodded his head and said "Once in a while, my home is here now and these children are my children". Such acts define the essence and trueness of this magnificent nation.
Such people and stories are there all across India in various capacities. Be it the state organizations or private individuals, the stories of survival and grit in this magical country is second to none in this world. For a country with a billion people, there are millions of such stories that form the ethos of this magical nation. Despite the numerous challenges surrounding the country, the people and the stories around it keep reinforcing its greatness.
Let's contemplate on these positive stories and wish you a Happy Independence Day!!
This article can also be viewed at http://ibnlive.in.com/blogs/srirambalasubramanian/2990/64773/independence-day-india-positive-beneath-the-radar.html