REDONDO BEACH, CA – Akshaya Patra’s glittering Comedy and Bollywood Dance Fest paradoxically brought into sharp focus the harsh reality of hunger experienced by millions of children in India. The event held at the packed Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center here on Oct 4, kicked off the worldwide launch of...
The Keynote speaker Shiva Ayyadurai , MIT systems scientist and inventor of email made a strong pitch for Akashaya Patra urging the audience to support this massive effort. Presenting his back story, he made no bones about coming from a lower caste and focused on how Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Kamaraj who was in office in the mid 1950s, launched the earliest food service program in the state working on the premise that feeding people nutritious meals made them intelligent.
In a lighter vein he said “ I come from parents who have been fed properly.” He highlighted that Akshaya PAtra was leveraging this concept which is now also supported by the latest research in the area of sytems biology. By contributing to Akshaya Patra one would not only help feed children but also help push innovation to another level which is required for large scale feeding .What Akshaya Patra is doing is directly impacting the basis of cognitive education for students in India and also supporting innovation in India which is significant.
Vandana Tilak, Chapter Chair for Los Angeles and Orange County introduced the audience to the vision of Akshaya Patra which is unlimited food for education and to help kids in school achieve their dreams. From 1,500 to 1.4 million meals per day today, Tilak said the vision was to touch 5 million meals by 2020.She lauded the efforts of Sudha and Narayanan Murthy who she called the pillars of Akshaya Patra for helping them set up hi-tech kitchens under the supervision of brilliant engineers who donated their services. She urged the audience to volunteer informing that at present the LA Chapter has 100 volunteers who are dedicated to the cause and has raised large amounts. She also thanked the vendors and sponsors for all their support in making the event possible. Emily Rosenbaum, CEO Akshaya Foundation, USA started off by saying “ we cannot be satisfied as long as there is one child in the world who has no food or education. She highlighted the efforts of Akshaya Patra in Nepal post the April earthquake where an emergency kitchen was set up overnight to provide 20,000 meals per day She touched on the Youth Ambassadors program where youth go back and forth to India and the US, creating awareness and raising funds for Akshaya Patra. She urged the audience to go the extra mile in making the goal of feeding 5 million by 2020 a reality saying, “imagine the day when no child will go to bed hungry or be forced to work. So join us in building kitchens and help in any way to make this dream a reality.”
Aprajita Jain, Brand Marketing Evangelist at Google and Neel Gorver Co-Founder and CEO of Indi.com spoke on how they were helping create a video platform to highlight the work being done by Akshaya Patra through the launch of #FeedingDreamers which focused on creating awareness among the younger generation . Videos can be uploaded with messages on hunger and sharing experiences and how and what one can do to help feed hungry children. “The highest voted video will be something to be proud of,” Jain said. Those competing can win iPads, trips to India, music, Xboxes and more.
Standup comedians Rajiv Satyal, Paul Varghese and Maz Jobrani kept the audience in splits of laughter throughout the evening with their signature brands of humor. The celebrity quotient was the presence of special guest Fran Drescher. Drescher , wife of Shiva Ayyadurai , a cancer survivor, is a actress, model and director. Rajiv Satyal who doubled up as emcee for the evening interviewed Drescher on stage and the humorous banter delighted the audience. From time to time, the stage lit up with the bright costumes of the Aaja Nachle Dance troupe who performed contemporary Bollywood dances and bhangra and the Bollywood Kathak Fusion Dance troupe..
Earlier in the evening a red carpet welcome and delicious vegetarian dinner was provided for invited guests.