The Mission to end hunger in India in a lifetime | Ankit Kawatra

The Mission to end hunger in India in a lifetime | Ankit Kawatra


Wow! This is amazing. Okay. This is nice. Alright. Yeah, give me a minute. Give me a minute. I’m going to, you know, get used to this. Okay. Alright. So, uh, Hi everyone! Good afternoon. My name is Ankit Kawatra and, I will be ending hunger in my lifetime. That’s my job. Yeah. We don’t need any stats on this. We already know. That, there is something called ‘Hunger’. What we do not, sometimes, remember, is that.. it is the number one cause of deaths in the world. I mean, we, right now, on Facebook, on Whatsapp, we are always bombarded with messages about so many problems. We forget, what to prioritise. And here is a problem which I really feel strongly about, not because it’s close to me, just that, but also, because this is the number one problem in the world. So, I’m not going to throw stats at you. I’m going to say some you know, some simple things. India has, the highest number, of undernourished people in the world, So we’re topping a list which we don’t want to top. Right? And, There are close to 1.3 million children. It’s, it’s just staggering. 1.3 million children, who, die, not because, they did not, they were not able to find any cure to a rare disease, but, because they did not get food to eat. I think that’s a kind of a, you know? It’s a stark contrast between, we guys, eating, 4-5 cuisines, and, these guys not getting food to eat. Don’t you think so? Yeah. At the same time, you know, if someone came to me two years back, and told me about these things, while I was sitting there, maybe, I would, I would leave. You know? I would, I would say, “What’s the point of discussing this?” We all know about so many problems. ‘Hame roz hi akhbar mei’, ( Everyday in the newspapers ), we read about so many unfortunate things that are happening. And there’s so little we can do about it. And, that’s exactly, what happened to me, except.. two years back in 2014, when I was 22, I, went to a wedding. And for those of you who are going to ask me, if it was my wedding? It was not. It was a celebrity wedding. Very very, close by to this place. Thyagraj Stadium. And, there were thirty five cuisines of food being served. Can you imagine that? I can’t name thirty five cuisines right now. And, one common thought, that, occurred to me during that, wedding was.. ‘What is going to happen to, that food, that’s left in the dishes, after we have left?” We’re not talking about the food, jo ham apni platon mei daal lete hain, ( which we take in our plates ) ‘guilty tareeke se’ ( guiltily ), we just throw it in the bin. But, the food that’s left in the dishes, after, everybody has left the wedding. And, that, was shocking for me, because the caterer told me, there, very obliviously, “That’s going to be thrown away.” From, that wedding alone, there were more than 10,000 people, that could have been fed. And when I came back home, I was very surprised. It was a kind of a shock for me, because, we keep talking about hunger, we keep talking about social problems, as if, they are a part of us. Yet, there are solutions, in a way, which we don’t capitalise on. There are things that we can do, which we do not do. And, here is where I saw, Food waste, as a major solution. Now, 40% of, all the food in the world, is globally wasted. Can you believe that? So, imagine 10 sacks of rice. which are produced, farmers toil their way, effort, resources, that are put into it. There is so much of it which is wasted before it reaches us. And there is an unimaginably lot, which is wasted by us. At weddings, at restaurants, At, caterers, at corporate cafetarias, hostels, college canteens. Any place. You think about it for a minute, you’d probably come out with new names that I haven’t thought about. And, this is what happens to the food. So, When that excess, extra food, which we could have had, we do not have it. It goes into the bins. It ultimately goes into the garbage dumps around our houses. the roads that we avoid, because it’s smelly. And, ultimately, from there, it goes to, these landfills. Now, what I like to say is that these landfills are really interesting places. because, they are ten storeys high these days. and this, this one, is a landfill in Okhla. which is 15 kilometers from here. And, if you see the red circle, That’s the Lotus Temple. It is a view of the Lotus Temple, from this landfill. It’s that high, If we don’t stop it, soon, ‘Koi na koi ispe hotel banake’ (Someone or the other, will construct a hotel on it) You know? They are going to have a nice hill station there. It’s that magnificent, right? And, there are so many landfills, which are being built by the food, we are wasting. And the condition, I mean, this is again, nothing, new. We know, about the people, who, work at these landfills. who segregate the waste, and the kind of lives they lead. It’s disastrous! For health conditions, for them, to be there. So, when I saw this two years back, I, I used to work in a, in a business advisory firm. And I went back home, I switched off the lights. And I said, “Look, I could do, what everybody tells me to do. I was in a, I was in a place where, I was, I was from a management background. So I could have pursued, my management career, right off from then. But, I was not able to live with the fact that there is a problem, there is a solution which we all can see, but we don’t do anything about it. And that question, that night, in my head was, “Am I going to spend my life, just like everyone else doing what everyone else expects me to do? Or am I going to, leave, the rat race, and maybe, try, to have a bigger impact, on people. You know that, have you ever thought to yourselves? If there was a teeny tiny possibility, that you are special, teeny tiny possibility, And that night, I thought, that for one second, very dramatic, very typical Shah Rukh Khan, I would say, but, you know, that typical behaviour, if you thought you we’re special, What would you do? And that night, I decided to quit my job. I didn’t tell my parents. I quit my job. And, I started, this organisation called ‘Feeding India’. And, this is where- Thank you. Thank you. So, what we do, again, is simple, I mean, I’m sure you can guess it. We rescue this excess food, from places where you and I eat. And we donate it to people in need. Again, This is not food that is left in plates, this is food left in dishes. Now, the amount of the food is so much, it can solve hunger. There are stats, and not just stats, people, who prove that, there is enough food for people in the world. We do not need to produce extra food. And, that’s the reason why, we pick up the excess food, lock it in containers, pack it, quality check it, and, donate it to three different kinds of people who really really need it. The important thing is, a big issue that I think all of us face, at some point or the other. When we want to donate funds, when we want to donate food, donate anything, it’s about who to donate it to. And that’s a big problem. One decision that we made, when, when I started ‘Feeding India’, is, we will not donate to beggars. Because, we do not want to promote beggary. We want to give food out to people who really, really, really need it. And that’s why we give food to, orphans, old-age people whose children have deserted them, and specially-abled people. people who cannot earn for themselves in the short term. This is what, you know what, what started off as, five volunteers and me, in a small room, in Delhi. Within two years, it grew out to, 2500 people. In 35 cities, serving, 1.6 million meals. You know? Thank you. Thank you. It’s awesome. I think, I think it’s incredible, that, you know, a small team of passionate people, can do something like this, and I’m not talking about myself, I’m talking about the wonderful, wonderful people, who we call ‘Hunger Heroes’. We call them heroes because, in the middle of the night, when you and I, we are sleeping, sometimes, you know, in the cold winter night, and, there are these people, who actually leave whatever they are doing, ‘college ka’ (College’s), you know, side by side with their college, with their office, they volunteer. And, they go and pick this food, and donate it to someone in need. And I, if we think about it, they are not paid. Why would they ever do that? And that’s where, very Indian, concept we came up with. the name we came up with, calling them heroes, because, they are truly heroes. You know? You just think about it. At 12:30, in the middle of the night, a guy going out, serving food, you know, picking it up from somewhere, donating it to someone in need. Why would he ever, ever do that? But then, these people do it, and, I think, you know, we need to salute them so much more. They are so amazing. So, what’s interesting is, I think, my passion kept growing, I realised, that, if I ask anyone of you, “Is there a point in your life, or your child’s life, that you think, you, or him or her, will be, able to see, a poverty free country?” I don’t think you can answer it. We can’t. And the fact is that, we don’t give it that much of a thought. You know? If, if any of you has ever kept their rooms dirty, this is what I like to think about it, you know? See, if you have ever kept your room dirty, a side of your room dirty, and you don’t clean it, ‘Uh, kafi time tak wo pile hota rehta hai’ (For a long time, it keeps piling up) ‘Dheere dheere dheere’ (Slowly and gradually), if you are lazy, if you’re lazy, you still, you know, you don’t clean it up, it still keeps adding up. And, when someone from the outside comes in, he points it out, and he says there is a problem. The fact is, that we have grown these piles in our country so long, and when, you know, it’s so surprising, because, when foreigners come to our country, we, sort of point fingers at them, saying, “Why do you, you know, point problems in our country?” But, the fact is, we have grown these piles of dirt so long, we have been lazy for so long, we haven’t done so much, for so long, that we can’t do it now. And, recently, I was selected as the United Nations Young Leader. for sustainable development goals, for my work. Thank you. When I was selected there, I happened to visit the United Nations General Assembly. One of the most prestigious events in the world, All Prime Ministers and Presidents sitting together. And, I was expecting to learn something, you know of, much more technical. But what I did come back learning was, you know, something I’ll share with you. Something very simple. Number one, the discussions that we have, with our friends, with our colleagues, with our parents, the ideas that we have, sometimes which are very unrealistic, we don’t have a plan for them, they are actually doable. When I was in that corporate firm,working, thinking that the food could be donated to someone in need, think about it, it’s live in front of you, 2 years later, and we have donated 1.6 million meals. And that’s the way, Presidents, and Prime Ministers think. They, They want us, to capitalise on those ideas, and grow out of them. And, the second thing I learnt is, that they look at India as, a country which has, a lot of potential, at the same time, has a power to solve it’s own problem. So, here’s, here’s my motto, and this is the last slide of my presentation. I want to make, food sharing, a celebration. In a lot of ways, it always was. Every festival. I don’t think there is one festival I can think of, which does not have food involved. And its always about sharing with neighbours. I think Diwali has come about. We are always, gifting Diwali boxes, and, God knows what, all these days, to people. And, we need to make, food sharing, a celebration. Togetherness. About each other. That;s what we need to do. For most of all, the last thing I want to say is, that, you know, a lot of people ask me, “Can hunger truly be solved?” You know? Can we ever see a country where, where pregnant women, do not have malnourished children. You know, where, where we keep talking about, Indians representing us in Olympics. And we want more of them. But, do we truly expect, a mother, a pregnant mother, who is having a malnourished child, to grow him into an Olympic champion? I don’t think so! But what we can do for it, what we can do for it, is extremely important, and, that’s the last point. Simply, by donating excess food, extra food, from no matter where you are. By not wasting it, we can make a big difference. And, believe me, this is not something I’m making up. It’s proven. If, a few of us, can serve, 1.6 million meals, think about what all of us could do! I think that’s amazing. You know? Don’t, please, please, don’t waste food, If you ever have any extra food, donate it to someone who needs it. If you need help, call up ‘Feeding India’. We have a helpline number. But, as I like to say, smart people don’t waste food. If you think people are not believing you, put a, put a Steve Jobs, or a, some image next to it, and, you know, share it. People will believe you. But, the fact is, it should be believed. Because, it’s important. Right? And, we need to make sure, that, this generation, is the one, which solves the problems. I will make sure, and I need you guys, to join me in this one. Please. Don’t let me down on this one. Thanks. See you, guys.

16 Replies to “The Mission to end hunger in India in a lifetime | Ankit Kawatra

  1. I appreciate…very nice work..but I'm really interested in knowing…Who support u financially.. Thanking in advance

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