Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Milk Network

India is going through a major bout of malnutrition. The government has been trying to fight this with schemes like mid day meals etc. They have been partly successful with these schemes. Still, there is a lot of poverty and malnutrition. Come 2013-14, we will have food security act providing 35 kg of wheat, rice and millet to almost 75% households in the country at Rs 1-3. This is a very good scheme to remove hunger. I believe this may remove a lot of hunger from this nation.

However, we cannot build a great nation just by removing hunger. We need to feed our young brigade with good nutrient food which should catalyze their growth as an individual, empower their minds to take us to the top. It is important for us to realize that feeding and educating the young India is like investing in the future. These kids today will make us a real superpower tomorrow. We need to feed kids with nutrients which makes their minds sharp such as vitamins, calcium, protein, sodium and potassium etc. Milk has all of these in very generous quantities. India is also a biggest producer of buffalo milk in the whole world with yearly production of 59 million tonnes.

How do we make sure all the kids of India have regular access to milk ?
I believe we need to build a milk network. A network of people who provide kids in India with free milk. 250 ml of a day to each and every kid in India. There are about 35 crore children in India below 15 years of age. This may exclude those who do not need free milk. This leaves us with about 15 crore such children (assuming a 40-50% poverty). Bottom line is, how much it is going to cost us ? 15 crore children, 250 ml each, at Rs. 3/packet for 300 days is 900 * 15 = 13500 crore/year or $3 billion/yr.

How big or small is this number ?
It is small if you consider that defense budget of India is about $32 bn/year. or that the NREGA this year was 39000 crore or about $9 bn or that Mr. Mukesh ambani's new home costs about $2bn! At the end of the day if we can get 10000 companies to donate an average of 50 lakh and 10 lakh rich Indians (in India and world wide) to donate an average of Rs. 50,000/year, we can surely make it work. We should also be able to get some grants and funding from big donor agencies. Govt. funding this is also a reality. However, this is a massive effort.

we can look at a completely distributed and volunteer based model in which people(or housing complexes) start donating milk to few kids in the neighbourhood. This way may be a little fragile to start with but could be more sustainable and empowering. To integrate this to the milk network we can build an online space where people running this leaf of the network can feed data back to the network, ask for monetary help & guidance and share experiences & data. I believe it would be important for this network to monitor statistics such as weight of kids, school attendance etc to make a strong case that such a network really works in uplifting the society and get funding. I also believe that kids who will benefit from this scheme would later in their life would be more compassionate and able citizens of our country. It goes without saying that these kids would surely feed the network when they become able.

For now I have started giving milk to my dhobi's 2 kids and plan to put 3-4 more such kids in the roaster! I plan to pursue this idea if I get like minded people so please ping me if you are interested.


adityo said...

Nice post! Sad though there is no good culture of philanthropy amongst the rich industrialists (Ambani's) i mean...

Piyush said...

@tyo Thats true. But philanthropy must not wait for them to open their eyes. It would be more sustainable if common masses start practicing philanthropy everyday than some Ambani donating once in a while.

Do realize that poor are not poor because they do not have money. That's just a symptom. They are poor because they do not have means to earn this money.

adityo said...

Absolutely agree with you. On a side note have you seen this TED video. TED is lame but this video is really worth watching

Piyush said...

Thanks Tyo! Would watch it