Padma Shri conferred upon Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman of Akshaya Patra
On the eve of the nation’s 67th Republic Day, The Government of India conferred upon Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman of The Akshaya Patra Foundation and President of ISKCON Bangalore, the prestigious Padma Shri. The award has been conferred in recognition of the distinguished service rendered by Akshaya Patra for the children of India.
Thanking the Government for this recognition, Madhu Pandit Dasa said “I dedicate this award to Srila Prabhupada, a true visionary who wanted to see a hunger free world. This award will give immense encouragement to the Akshaya Patra team to reach greater heights in its service. Srila Prabhupada the founder of ISKCON desired that no one should go hungry in this country. This award is recognition of our humble service of leading this cause of nutrition for education amongst the government school children through the Akshaya Patra programme. It is an inspiration for me and the entire team at Akshaya Patra to reach out the work of our foundation to many more hungry children of this country. Quality food for these children is a need for quality education that will in turn create citizens of great character. Ourchildren are the real asset of our nation.”
Madhu Pandit Dasa designed the first centralised kitchen of Akshaya Patra, to provide mid-day meals to underprivileged children in the Government schools of Bengaluru Rural District during July 2000. He is a visionary and under his inspiring leadership and impeccable commitment, the organization grew from strength to strength, moving unceasingly towards its vision for feeding 5 million children by 2020.
Akshaya Patra works with the Government of India and State Governments and is one of the most admired Public Private Partnerships in sphere of education and child welfare. Several scientific studies conducted by various leading research organisations such as A. C Nielson and Sigma clearly establishes the positive impact of the Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme. Classroom hunger was addressed significantly, with attendance, enrolment and retention receiving a boost. The recommended nutritional requirements were being fulfilled and the food was found to be healthy, hygienic and tasty.
He set up a robust Governance Model which has made Akshaya Patra a hallmark of transparency and accountability. This is highlighted by the fact that Akshaya Patra is the only NGO in the country to win the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) Gold Shield Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting five times in a row and placed in its prestigious Hall of Fame.
Under Madhu Pandit Dasa’s inspirational leadership, Akshaya Patra has grown from providing 1500 children with mid-day meals to 1.5 million children in 15 years, becoming the world’s largest NGO-run school lunch programme. A Harvard case study, the Foundation is poised to serve the 2 billionth meals later this month.
Madhu Pandit Dasa completed his B.Tech in Civil Engineering from IIT-Mumbai in the year 1980. While he was doing his M.Tech course in IIT-Mumbai in 1981, he dedicated himself to the service of humanity by becoming a full-time member of ISKCON.