27th August, New Delhi: The Honourable President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, visited The Akshaya Patra Foundation to commemorate the milestone of serving 2 billion meals. The event was hosted at ISKCON Bangalore on 27 August, 2016. The dignitaries in attendance were Shri Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala – Honourable Governor of Karnataka; Shri Siddaramaiah – Honourable Chief Minister of Karnataka; Shri Prakash Javadekar – Honourable Union Minister of Human Resource Development; Dr Murli Manohar Joshi – Member of Parliament, Former Minister of HRD, and Science & Technology, and Mrs Sudha Murty, Chairperson, Infosys Foundation.
The event began with the arrival of The Honourable President of India. An invocation prayer was sung by an all-children’s choir. Honourable President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, besides unveiling the 2 billion meal commemorative art installation also distributed symbolic commemorative treats to school children. He also addressed the gathering at the event.
Addressing the occasion, Honourable President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, stated that the occasion gives everyone an opportunity to appreciate the significance and strength of a fresh and nutritious mid-day meal. He also appreciated the Honourable Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri Siddaramaiah, for his able leadership that has led to the immense success of the ‘Akshara Dasoha’ Scheme (the Mid-Day Meal Programme run by the Government of Karnataka) in the state of Karnataka. He applauded the ‘Ksheera Bhagya’ Scheme that has proved to be an innovative tool for incentivising the existing Mid-Day Meal Programme of the Government of Karnataka. The Honourable President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee also lauded Akshaya Patra for ably supporting the Government of India, Government of Karnataka and all the other State Governments, in the successful implementation of the Mid-Day Meal Programme. He was also happy to learn about Akshaya Patra’s country-wide presence and wished The Foundation success in its future endeavours. In conclusion, he reiterated the need for greater community participation towards the cause of ‘unlimited food for education.’
The Honourable Governor of Karnataka, Shri Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala, praised The Foundation’s work. He stated that Akshaya Patra has played a vital role in the cause of eradicating classroom hunger and has facilitated in improving the quality of life for the children of our nation.
The Honourable Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri Siddaramaiah acknowledged Akshaya Patra’s school feeding programme as a great social undertaking that has provided school-going children both educational and health benefits. He also assured The Foundation, his wholehearted support for furthering the school feeding programme of Akshaya Patra in the state.
Shri Prakash Javadekar, Honourable Union Minister of Human Resource Development expressed that the occasion symbolises the story of Akshaya Patra’s attempt to boost and promote education with delicious, healthy meals. Impressed by the progress made towards the successful implementation of the Government’s Mid-Day Meal Programme, he pledged his full support to Akshaya Patra for its future endeavours.
Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Member of Parliament, Former Minister of Human Resource Development and of Science and Technology attended the event. As a long time well-wisher, he congratulated The Foundation for blending societal innovation and government vision to eradicate classroom hunger in India.
The Honourable Union Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Shri D. V. Sadananda Gowda was also present at the occasion. The Honourable Minister expressed his delight on being a part of the celebration. In his address, he acknowledged Akshaya Patra’s efforts for the service rendered towards the children of India.
The event was well attended by other eminent political figures that included Shri Tanveer Sait – Honourable Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, and Wakf Minister – Government of Karnataka; Shri Gopalaiah – MLA, Mahalakshmi Layout Constituency and Shri B. Badre Gowda – BBMP Corporator, Nagapura Ward.
Mrs Sudha Murty, Chairperson – Infosys Foundation and Shri Shankar Mahadevan, leading Bollywood singer and music composer, congratulated The Foundation on attaining the milestone of cumulatively serving two billion meals.
The attendees also included Akshaya Patra’s Independent Trustees, Shri Mohandas Pai and Shri Abhay Jain. The Foundation, working closely with the Government of India and State Governments, is humbled to celebrate the milestone of cumulatively serving 2 billion meals, in the presence of the Honourable President of India and other dignitaries.
The Honourable President of India Sri Pranab Mukherjee and all the dignitaries lauded Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa – Chairman, Akshaya Patra, for his towering efforts and able leadership that has steered Akshaya Patra to become a shining example of social innovation in the service of humanity.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman – Akshaya Patra, said, “It is indeed a great honour to celebrate the milestone in the presence of The Honourable President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee and other distinguished guests. The Government of India, the Karnataka Government and all other State Governments of India have been Akshaya Patra’s greatest pillar of support over the past 16 years. It is with their encouragement that Akshaya Patra aspires to fulfil its mission of feeding, ‘5 million children by 2020’. Akshaya Patra will continue to function as a loyal and diligent implementing arm of the Government’s Mid-Day Meal Programme. On behalf of Akshaya Patra, I also thank all our Honourable Ministers and Trustee members present here, whose support has been pivotal for The Foundation’s success in reaching out to millions of children across India.”
Earlier, The Honourable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi extended his best wishes to The Akshaya Patra Foundation, for completing sixteen years of serving mid-day meals to school children. He also congratulated The Foundation for serving 2 billion meals and remarked that these milestones and efforts inspire many to serve our children.
The milestone of cumulatively serving 2 billion meals is a reiteration of Akshaya Patra being the first NGO-run school meal programme in the world to have ever achieved this feat. The Foundation is firmly poised to achieve its mission of feeding ‘5 million children by 2020’; which will facilitate in furthering its vision – ‘no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.’