Swati CA

Swati_CA column in The Hindu Business Line

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Serving food justice to all

We all have at sometime or the other looked at the streets that at daytime look the busiest. Traffic, shops, and scores of people in hurry make for a great combination! At night though, it is a different picture altogether. Recently, I was dropped home after attending a rather dull social gathering at around 12 at night. The tyres went bust on the highway, compounding our problems. My house is one of those which is not on the main road and neither does it have a pathway that can accommodate a car. This means that I actually have to walk around 20 feet, after getting down from the car. At night, it does give a shiver!

And that night as I was getting back, I witnessed something terrible. An old lady scrounging from a packet that smelled ghastly from 50 steps away. A child who stood beside her (maybe a relative) told her to put her hand deeper into the packet. The ordeal of braving the obnoxious smell, standing barefoot on wet ground and searching in the darkest of alleys were all just for a fistful of rice.

That’s depressing. It never bothered me till then that there are around 90 crore people in the world who are chronically hungry. To most of us these people are invisible till we encounter them. The next day, I did a few things. First I tried to find out who the lady and the child were. Nobody seemed to have a clue. Then I surfed the Internet to find and I came across an interesting Web page: http://sabkokhana.googlepages.com/home. Just to see that there was somebody who had felt the need to do something was sobering.



  • At 9:13 PM, Blogger Swati CA said…


    “Think long term…in short-term it looks selfish,” rightly said Swati.

    Charity normally should start at home and in course of time it will and should become a habit and somewhere a few of nuclei (ideas) could snowball to a macro level.

    As the gap between the haves and have-nots have widened, so is the requirement/need for more number of charity houses.

    Most of us, especially all the bachelor workers, use a lot of service professionals at micro-level, housemaid, cook, washer, ironer, gardener, security etc, the list bulging up with our economic status.

    * If we could take care of some of their meals and needs (other than the monetary emoluments that we offer any how), it shall be a nice starting point.

    Bachelors eating is scheduled messes, could feed another meal for the needy (ten such bachelor in a particular mess choosing to feed another ten shall be a fantastic start, - bargaining for such charity meal to a lower cost will not be difficult)

    * As you have mentioned, there is already a will in the part of youngsters especially…..they need not just choose a CRY or HelpAge India to subscribe to the poor and needy, instead create more small organizations resulting to a deeper penetration.

    * Charity does need to be advertised. You can display what you really do. This will not mean trumpeting, but inviting others to involve and subscribe, which is the need of the hour. Many people have will, but have no time or the means to reach the needy.

    Krishnamoorthy, Mangalore

  • At 9:17 PM, Blogger Swati CA said…


    I would like to share my personal experience with you.

    One night I was going to the salon and on the way I was approached by a kid who wanted to polish my shoes for some money to have food.

    I said no for his services and asked him to go away. Then he asked me for some money, that made me really furious not because I hate beggars. It is because of an assumption that the money actually reaches the hand of the greedy and not the hungry.

    He then asked me for some food, and
    then I asked him that I would buy food for him and give him will that
    be ok?

    And he happily replied Yes!

    When I was going back to my car after visiting the salon, I was
    approached by another boy of the same age asking me for food.

    And unfortunately I went away. I felt guilty of not feeding that other boy. I was partial to some extent and I don't know why. At that time I was thinking am I going to do everything for everybody?

    And now clearly after reading your article, I am happy that there are
    few others who are also thinking on the same lines and I would want to
    contribute. Please let me know how.


    Akshaet Goyal

  • At 9:20 PM, Blogger Swati CA said…


    This is a common sight for us.

    Problem is a Creamy layer of the society has forgotten basic concept of "Live & Let Live others".

    They are wasting so much of natural resourcs for personal ego satisfaction to keep up with Jones rather than looking to the basic needs of millions of living being
    (including animals/birds & nature)I have read one article in which it was stated that so called civilised man is destroying so much of natural resources compared to so called Adivasi & uncivilised person.

    In present case what we need is to have NGOs who can take care of such hungry thousands.

    In some of the Hindu temple Prasadam is distributed free of cost to all.

    This practice also needs little
    more attention & care from the society.

    R T Shah.

  • At 9:22 PM, Blogger Swati CA said…


    It is unfortunate that the divide between the haves and havenots is increasing at an alarming rate.

    The position is true of developed countries also. The saving grace there being, reasonable social secutiry systems, to take care of the unemployed, poor and old aged.

    In India, despite six decades of so called socialism, we are yet to reach at least 25% of the goals aimed at. The corruption levels being very high, only a small part of the tax payers money and budget allocations are effectively spent.

    NGOs can play an active role. As compared to a decade or two ago, presently there are more number of NGOs and some of them are playing an effective role and in certain niche areas also.

    "Mahaswamis" of Kanchi Mutt started years ago, what is known as "pidi arisi" scheme. Each of us can contribute a handful of rice kept in temples and mutts everyday/week, which by accumulation from the community as a whole, will be sufficient to feed a large populace.

    Now, temples in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere have also brought out "Annadhana" scheme. Each of one of us, who are having resources more than our needs, can share at least about 5% of our monthly inflows, through such schemes, even if not directly.

    Further, though food production has improved dramatically over the years, storage facilities have not kept pace.Rotting of grains, vegetables, fruits is an eye sore and does not add to food security.

    Substantial storage facilities, including cold storages is need of the hour. The hotels and hostels like systems can think of having some arrangement with NGOs/poor old age homes, by which the left overs can be shared with them.

    There is no use in looking to the Government for everything. In these kind of initiatives, cluster approach and community kitchens will be the most suited.



Post a Comment

<< Home