Excerpts from an interview with Madhu Pandit: Chairman of World’s largest NGO run School Meal Program, Akshaya Patra.
Question: Why the name Askhaya Patra to the mid-day meal program?
Madhu Pandit: The divine vessel ‘Akshaya Patra’ of Mahabharata symbolizes unlimited portions that can feed countless mouths. But this ‘vessel’ sought a few willing human hearts, minds and hands to feed ONE MILLION everyday.
Question: To whom all do you attribute this success of feeding one million everyday?
Madhu Pandit: Cooks, cleaners, drivers, guards, supervisors, managers, donors, government authorities, advisors, board members and missionaries were all inspired and activated to make this possible.
Question: What really motivated you to initiate and make this movement so successful?
Madhu Pandit: When we began we had not the slightest idea of this scale. But someone was watching within all of us and noted our wanting to do more and more and willing to battle everyday to beat the hurdles. He kept opening new paths , kept fanning our spirits , pushed us bit by bit up the scale of feeding more and more children month after month and year after year .As His grace fell on a million children, we were graced with great lessons too. That, big things can be done when what is to be done is greater than all of us and that God helps those who help themselves, especially to help others beyond themselves. He gave that extra direction, that extra support, that extra determination and fanned the spark of desire to feed a blazing ONE MILLION! He took us that extra distance we never conceived of when we started. And He rewarded our humble efforts by fulfilling our ever growing dream. Blessed are we who could experience this.
Question: How do you think this movement will bear an effect on the society?
Madhu Pandit: One thing is certain from this experience. Boundless compassion is waiting to explode into this world to lessen the suffering provided we involve more and more willing human hearts, minds and hands to deliver His blessings upon many more millions in the years to come. We are determined to seek out for more and more such willing people out in the world who do not know that many more millions mouths are waiting for the blessing to transform their lives. Their smiles will transform our lives too. A pride that humbles us, yet spirits us to reach our next target of five million.
We are happy to state that we have achieved our earlier mission of feeding 1 million children by 2010, in early 2009. We continue to reach out to more and more children, giving each one the equal opportunity to unlock their true potential. We now aspire to reach out to 5 million children by 2020.
Says Madhu Pandit president of ISKCON Bangalore