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The unending mid-day meals

Most people have a customary insight into the soul of a business or character of businesspeople — it’s a work to make money and become successful for themselves.

Indeed, those layers are part of the whole exercise, though there are some people who express another perspective and try to achieve the artistic and humane qualities which become their contribution for developing a better society.

They reach out to the business world with no purpose or loose-thinking and identify the role with a completely different thought process.

Their passion adds more stimulus to a business which is otherwise very pedestrian. Having progressed on our path to destiny around restaurants for the last 25 years in London, we have humbly served people and nurtured the true essence of India’s love for the universe through the taste of our food.

Meeting special people forever compliments our noble mission and attitude in this profession. It was one such occasion that we met Radhika Iyer and Bhawani Singh to listen to the magnificent story of Akshaya Patra Foundation and its spectacular work around India by providing fresh, nutritious food for India’s hungry children.

From our experience of holistically educating underprivileged kids in the art of cooking and helping them achieve a big dream in this industry, the feat achieved by Akshaya Patra by distributing around two million meals a day remains a marvellous and unbelievable story.

In a fast-growing country like India, with so many young millionaires and immensely rich industrialists, it’s appalling to see that equally high proportion of children’s malnutrition and poor living standards still exist.

How many people would think like Madhu Pandit, an IIT rank-holder from Bengaluru, who changed his career path and took a U-turn from a potential corporate success story?

He saw a huge onus for his life’s journey around exploring the power of food and the mission to serve as many needy children as possible.

It is so fascinating to listen to the various aspects of Akshaya Patra’s growth to become the largest food distribution network in the world. Started in Bengaluru almost 20 years ago, Akshaya Patra, now serves steaming, fresh lunches to around 14,000 schools across 11 states in India. By 2016, they had already achieved a magical target of serving two billion mid-day meals. Admiring the high-tech, modern kitchens of spiritual centres in Dharamshala and Amritsar, Akshaya Patra achieved the expertise to run hugely demanding operation without losing quality.

There’s no stopping for this wonderful initiative as they expand their work internationally now and spread their good work as a model for many government agencies and people in powerful positions.

In spite of good publicity and support, Akshaya Patra is still not known to many people I spoke to. Maybe few realise social commitments beyond personal goals.

Akshaya Patra has a rich list of CEOs, NGOs and spiritual leaders spearheading this divine activity and Mohandas Pai, former CFO of Infosys, has been one of the powerful pillars for this thrilling achievement.

It’s no wonder Akshaya Patra is attracting a lot of charming people like Radhika and Bhawani. It is so fascinating as we agree to contribute — however small the contribution may be — to make this iconic, selfless work continue to amaze the world.

As they say, “Good, nutritious food makes the biggest difference in a child’s education, personality development and their social relationships.” A few hours of sharing ideas and ways to help was beautifully productive as we mutually complimented our works and set sweet targets for the coming months.

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