Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Infosys Founder Lauds Akshaya Patra’s Efforts at Benefit

At the Akshaya Patra Foundation Food for Education benefit event.
Infosys Limited founder and chairman emeritus Narayana Murthy, the guest of honor at the Nov. 13 annual Akshaya Patra Foundation Food for Education benefit event here, spoke of his personal experience with hunger and how it turned him from a confused socialist into a determined compassionate capitalist.
The Akshaya Patra’s meal program, he said, “is not only a great example of a private-government partnership but also that of compassionate capitalism,” according to a press release.
Speaking to over 300 guests, Murthy pointed out that over 350 million people in India live below the poverty line, 250 million do not have access to clean drinking water and over 26 million children are not able to go to school because they have to work to help their families get minimum sustenance.
“Only a gentle but persistent social entrepreneurship such as Akshaya Patra can bring out a huge change across India and make the country ‘safe’ unlike other nations witnessing catastrophic upheavals,” he said.
Inspired by Murthy’s words and compelled by presentations from board chairman Dr. Desh Deshpande and president and CEO Madhu Sridhar, the audience at the event here responded by donating $291,000 to further the mission of the NGO to expand its program.
Akshaya Patra, the largest NGO-run mid-day school meal program in the world, leverages technology to deliver freshly prepared nutritious meals to 1.3 million underprivileged children in over 9,000 schools across India through 19 kitchens. The vision of the organization is that no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.
Deshpande told the gathering of some of the new initiatives that Akshaya Patra is implementing, including route simulation software developed to optimize the driving routes with the help of the students and faculty from the Indian Institute of Management–Bangalore.
A pilot run of this tool has helped reduce the number of routes in the Bangalore south kitchen by ten percent. A vehicle tracking system is also being used to manage the fleet better.
It costs Akshaya Patra, a public-private partnership, only $15 to feed a child all through the school year because the government subsidizes the program. Akshaya Patra’s next milestone is to serve five million children daily by 2020.
In closing remarks, Murthy stated, “Life is worth living for all of us thanks to your extraordinary contribution to this cause. What Akshaya Patra is doing in India is nothing but short of a revolution."
The primary focus of the benefit event was to raise awareness and funds for Akshaya Patra and its program for fighting hunger and promoting education simultaneously.
“We are touched by the generous support of the community to help build this program of highest relevance for the bottom of the pyramid. Akshaya Patra is an inspiring movement that is bringing smiles of hope to the deserving children in India with support of NRIs,” Akshaya Patra USA CEO Sridhar declared.
Navneet Chugh, Sonal S. Ladva and Anil Churiwal served as co-chairs of the event.

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