Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Government Inaugurates Program To Distribute “Lord’s Mercy” To Muslims


As previously reported in Newsletter no. 53 ISKCON Bangalore has extended its highly succesful Akshaya Patra “Lord’s Mercy” distribution program to also inlcude members of the Muslim community. Such an innovative program has caught the imagination of the Government who formally launched the program at one the main Muslim schools in the city and also offered pledges of support for the program. As the media report below highlights, what is extremely special about this program is that local Muslims are paying to have the “Lord’s Mercy” distributed to other Muslims! Surely Srila Prabhupada would be extremely pleased.
The Hindu
Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Muslim children to get mid-day meals from ISKCON
By Our Special Correspondent
bangalore, april 16.
These children living in a locality included in BMP limits more recently, a most neglected area in the City, will not go hungry at least once a day.
In a major step forward in promoting communal harmo­ny, the Akshaya Patra Foundation, promoted by ISKCON, will be providing mid-day meals to more than 3,000 Muslim children studying in Urdu medium schools in Devarajeevanahalli (DJ Halli), which lies beyond Frazer Town in the Cantonment area. The Minister for Education, H. Vishwanath, launched the programme there on Tues­day.
“Hunger knows no religion,” Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman of the foundation, said. “When the Education Department asked us if we can include these schools under the Akshaya Patra programme, we gladly agreed,” he added.
The Sheriff Foundation of India Builders has come forward to share 25 per cent of the ex­penses on feeding the children in Urdu-medium schools for a year. Several members of the Muslim community have as­sured the foundation that the rest of the expenses would be met.
The programme has com­pleted two years and covered 23,100 children in 89 schools. A sum of Rs 3.5 crore has been spent by ISKCON on the pro­gramme. “This was raised by ISKCON from the generous do­nors of Bangalore, and not from foreign sources, as it is mistakenly believed,” Madhu Pandit Dasa said. The next year’s bud­get for the programme was esti­mated to be Rs. 4 crore.
The administrative cost in­volved in the programme is two per cent of the expenses, and transportation cost 11 per cent. The cost of food comes to 85 per cent. “Mohandas Pai, Infosys CFO, who is also a trustee of the foundation, said: “The remarkably low administrative cost is largely because ISKCON is bear­ing most of the indirect costs.”
One of the government rural schools near the City reported a 28 per cent increase in attendance after the programme was introduced. The average in­crease in attendance in the schools covered so far is 17 per cent. Some of the schools have reported an increase in enrol­ment by 100 per cent. The aver­age increase in enrolment is about 20 per cent.
Nutritionists have evaluated the meals and certified them to be in compliance with the Rec­ommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for children. As a nodal agency, the foundation has been acting as a catalyst for overall school development In association with the Learning Society, 100 scholarships of Rs.5,000 each have been an­nounced for meritorious SSLC students in Akshaya Patra schools. Infrastructure develop­ment and training of teachers have also been taken up in these schools.

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