In the second week of March, the world woke up to a pandemic. An unprecedented human tragedy was yet to unfold. Little did we envisage the level of disruption, disease, and above all hunger, this pandemic would bring along.
The extent of hunger experienced by dislocated migrants in India is a story in itself. In an effort to alleviate the miseries of affected millions, Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT) Tires, a leading tire manufacturer and Indian multinational, reached out to starving daily wage earners during the pandemic. With support largely focused on Gujarat and Rajasthan during the Covid-19 outbreak, they sponsored 300,000 cooked meals across the country.
BKT joined hands with the Akshaya Patra Foundation in 2014. As one of the oldest partners of the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) Mid-Day Meal Programme, they have been regularly sponsoring meals for lacs of children in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Vrindavan, Lucknow, Surat and Bhilai.
On their collaboration, Arvind Poddar, Chairman and Managing Director, BKT Tires, said, “BKT has been collaborating with Akshaya Patra since 2014. For us, it was the natural evolution of the support projects we had already started for the most vulnerable segment of society: children. The close collaboration with the Akshaya Patra Foundation has allowed BKT to fully understand the phenomenon of “classroom hunger”, to defeat which, it is necessary to ensure constant commitment over time, feeding our children who represent the next generation of Indian citizens. All children should have the opportunity to grow up healthy and receive appropriate education, building proper tools to face life’s challenges and aspire to a better future. BKT has built automated kitchen at Bhuj (Gujarat) and will stand with the Akshaya Patra Foundation to pursue these goals together, with passion and determination.”
To ensure that children do not remain hungry, BKT, in 2019, contributed towards the construction of a kitchen in Bhuj (Gujarat) with the capacity of feeding 50,000 children per day. They have sponsored 8 vehicles for the Bhuj kitchen along with the rent for the rest of the vehicles.
In accordance with their CSR policy, they have been espousing education and child healthcare. The organization strongly believes that children, especially hailing from low income group backgrounds, must not be compelled to leave their education midway by succumbing to hunger and financial pressures.
The organization is also working towards helping the Cancer patients by associating with Tata Memorial Hospital, Indian Cancer Society, Nair Charitable Hospital Department Development Foundation, Nargis Dutt Foundation and many more. They are also vocal about the rights of those physically challenged and donate generously to NASEOH (National Society for Equal Opportunities for handicapped).
On aligning with BKT Tires, Shridhar Venkat, CEO, Akshaya Patra Foundation said, “BKT is one of our earliest supporters being at the forefront of every initiative, small or big, to serve those in need. We are extremely grateful and fortunate to be aligned with a socially responsible company like BKT Tires that is truly in sync with our ethos. We welcome donors like them who have a finger on the pulse of hungry Indians and are willing to join us in our mission of eliminating hunger.”
Incidentally, Akshaya Patra and associate foundations have served about 72 million meals to underprivileged sections of the society over the last four months.