The Akshaya Patra Foundation held its Virtual Gala – Technology for Change on Saturday, July 25th, and raised $950,000 for feeding mid-day meals to school children in India. The Texas gala was hosted by the cities of Austin, Dallas, and Houston. Close to 1,000 businesses, non-profits, government officials, philanthropic leaders, and fans from around the world attended and supported the organization’s dual mission of addressing childhood hunger and promoting education for underserved children in India.
The evening was eloquently led in a scintillating conversation with Mr. Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus of Infosys by Siva Sivaram, President of Western Digital. Mr. Sivaram was recently appointed Chairman of Akshaya Patra Foundation USA with Srivatsan Rajan, Partner at Bain & Company, as Vice Chairman. Gururag Deshpande (Desh) will continue to serve on the board as Chairman Emeritus.
Established in 2000, Akshaya Patra is the largest NGO-run school meal program in the world, according to Time Magazine, and serves 1.8 million children daily in over 19,257 schools through 55 kitchens in 12 states and two Union Territories in India.
Mr. Murthy touched on many aspects of giving, success, and individual responsibilities throughout the conversation. He stressed the importance of making a living by giving what you can and the sanctity of Indian values when it comes to helping others. As he addressed the Indian diaspora in the US and across the globe, he gave sound advice on how important it is to integrate into the country one immigrates to by embracing its values, laws, and civic responsibilities. When asked about technology, Mr. Murthy explained how technology is a great liberalizer and creates extraordinary opportunities, something he himself has experienced first hand.
As a long time Akshaya Patra supporter, Mr. Murthy stressed the importance of contributing, no matter how big or small, to bring a smile on a child’s face who otherwise would have slept hungry or skipped school. His formula for success remains the same throughout his life: To be successful is to bring a smile onto another person’s face. Coming from a family of eleven children and growing up in a lower-middle-class family that survived on a high school teacher’s salary, Mr. Murthy fondly remembered special dinner guests in his home. His family would host a child from a lower economic status for dinner every night of the week. It was evident that Mr. Murthy’s passion for helping children started at a young age.
Along with insightful conversations between the two technology pioneers including an active audience who had the opportunity to ask questions, the evening consisted of a talented musical offering by Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath, one of the best known Carnatic musicians today. She opened the show with the Dhanvantari shloka and continued to amaze guests with her quiet composure and serene vocals throughout the event. The tech-themed evening celebrated the volunteers, chapter teams from Austin, Dallas, and Houston who continue to work towards alleviating classroom hunger. The chapter teams are continuing to accept donations after the event.
Established in 2000, Akshaya Patra is the largest NGO-run school meal program in the world, according to Time Magazine, and serves 1.8 million children daily in over 19,257 schools through 55 kitchens in 12 states and two Union Territories in India. It costs only $20 to feed a child for an entire school year.