Fight against hunger

Amrita Prasad
Monday, 19 February 2018

Four youngsters from Meerut created a contraption to save 100 litres of milk on Maha Shivratri and sent to an NGO, which provides shelter to orphans and HIV positive kids

Shivratri, one of the biggest festivals of India, is celebrated with much gusto but it also leads to wastage of gallons of milk. As part of the rituals, devotees across the country pour milk over the Shivling. 

Every year, media also reports  how a few individuals and organisations  make an effort to use the milk to feed the hungry. This year, four youngsters — Karan Goel, Nishant Singhal, Harsh Patel, and Ankit Chaudhary from Meerut — created a contraption to save 100 litres of milk on Maha Shivratri and sent it to Satyakam Manav Seva Samiti, which provides shelter to orphans and HIV positive kids. 

Devotees pour milk on the kalash which is placed right above the Shivling. So the group made two holes in the kalash — one at its base and the other one at a certain height. The kalash had a capacity of seven litres. So they devised a system which ensured that after one litre of milk trickled down on the Shivling, the remaining six litres flowed into a container through the pipe attached to the second hole. The apparatus was set up on a steel tripod stand attached to the Shivling. 

Goel, an engineering graduate from Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), first discussed the idea and worked on  the overall planning and execution. Singhal, pursuing BCA from Indian Institute of Management Training, Meerut, designed the model and worked wholeheartedly for the successful implementation of the project. Patel, an engineering graduate from VIT University, Vellore, aided the group in understanding how the milk could flow unabated. Chaudhary, an engineering graduate from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Meerut, helped spread the message.

The group also runs a Facebook page called  India Against Hunger. 

We chat up Singhal to know more about their initiative:
How did the idea come to you?
There is a saying that all great ideas emerge from big problems. About five months back, when one of us visited an orphanage to feed the children living there, it was astonishing to see how disciplined and bright the kids were, but they were all undernourished. Then I, along with the others, decided to do something for them at least in our capacity. Everyone is aware of how much milk is poured over the divine Shivling. So we just tried to  bridge the two — what is surplus to some is a need for others. We didn’t need to generate the resource but just channelise it in a proper way. We started off with collecting milk from different temples and testing it in various real-life conditions. We found that the milk once offered in temples or poured over an idol, is very difficult to purify. Then the idea culminated into a model which could save milk just before it is offered.  

Can you explain the entire process of how the apparatus was made and how it operates?
The apparatus is such a simple model that anyone can replicate it, given the intentions are good. It is a form of a kalash so that the overall environment of the temple will not be disturbed when installed. The milk, which is offered to the Shivling is collected in it — a part of it is offered to the god and the remaining gets collected separately. It’s a stainless steel apparatus to make sure that the offered milk doesn’t get adulterated.

How successful was the initiative?
After initial testing we decided to set it up in just one temple. To our surprise, we were able to collect 100 litres of milk just from one temple. It was obviously more than what we had expected. The support that people gave us was immense. I think behaviour change is the hinge pin of any big change.

Tell us about your platform India Against Hunger.
It’s a Facebook page which we decided to initiate to spread our cause at a nationwide level. Today, technology has the ability to spread the message to various active minds of our society.

What message would you like to give to youngsters?
We are looking forward to encourage innovative youngsters to join hands and give back to society. We are hopeful that people will try to set up such a mechanism within their reach. A nationwide movement can eradicate undernourishment from our society.

Despite, thousands of people sleeping hungry, we don’t hesitate to waste food in the name of religion. How can you bring about a change in this mindset?
I think awareness is the only way forward. Having religious faith is not at all wrong but people need to adopt the middle path of Gautam Buddha and also learn that the service to humanity is the most divine purpose one can devote his/ her life to.

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