“Roti Bank,” or “bread bank,” is a year-old effort to provide free food to needy people in the Mahoba district of the Bundelkhand region of India, a place that is suffering from a prolonged drought and a decreasing supply of subterranean water. Reuters spoke to Tara Patkar about how the programme works. Here are the edited excerpts of the interview:
Somy Solomon, wife, mother and social activist, is an Indian expatriate in rural Tanzania. It upset her that villagers would sell their farmland to construction companies at knockdown prices, unaware of its value. A lack of education, she says, is trapping local women and children into a life of slum living and domestic servitude.
With the Gates-Buffett give-it-away tour just in India, many have been questioning if the country’s rich are up to such philanthropy. Gross exaggerations of wealth and poverty are on display every day in India – the BMW next to the bullock cart or the coiffured Jimmy Choo-wearing woman waiting for her driver as the shoeless human mule shuffles past with two oil drums on his back. With millions malnourished and uneducated, with ancient monuments crumbling, with indigenous art, theatre and music unsupported and fading, why can’t the uber rich give to the country that helped them so?
In a contest between who is the most celebrated Indian billionaire, a man who donates $2 bln to education versus a man who builds himself a $1bln home, the winner is obvious. Right?