Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman of Akshaya Patra Foundation was conferred with the prestigious Padma Shri award by the Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee. The presentation ceremony was held in the historic Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan at 11:30 am on 12th April 2016. It was graced by the presence of a number of prominent personalities who were recognized for contributions in varied fields.
The award acknowledged the noble and distinguished service rendered by Madhu Pandit Dasa for the welfare of the children of India. He expressed his gratitude and thanked the Government of India for the recognition. With regard to the honour, he said, “I dedicate this award to Srila Prabhupada, a true visionary who wanted to see a hunger free world. This recognition shall give immense encouragement to the Akshaya Patra team to reach greater heights. It is our humble service of providing nutrition to the government school children through the Akshaya Patra programme. It is an inspiration for me and the entire team at Akshaya Patra to reach out to many more hungry children of this country. Quality food for these children is essential for quality education that will in turn create citizens of great character. Our children are the real asset of our nation.”
Madhu Pandit Dasa designed the first centralised kitchen of Akshaya Patra, to provide mid-day meals to underserved children in the Government schools of Bengaluru rural district during July 2000. Under his inspiring leadership and impeccable commitment, the organisation grew unceasingly towards its mission of feeding ‘5 million children by 2020.’ Dasa has to his credit a B.Tech degree in Civil Engineering from IIT-Mumbai in the year 1980. While he was doing his M.Tech course in IIT-Mumbai in 1981, he dedicated himself to the service of humanity by becoming a full-time member of ISKCON. Apart from being the Chairman of Akshaya Patra, he also serves as the President of ISKCON Bangalore and Chairman of Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir.
Akshaya Patra partners with the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India and various State Governments as one of the most admired Public Private Partnerships in education and child welfare. Scientific studies conducted by leading research organisations such as A.C Nielson and Sigma clearly established the positive impact of its mid-day meal programme.
Madhu Pandit Dasa set up a robust Governance Model that has made Akshaya Patra a hallmark of transparency and accountability. This is highlighted by the fact that Akshaya Patra is the only NGO in the country to win the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) Gold Shield Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting five times in a row and placed in its prestigious Hall of Fame.
Under his leadership, Akshaya Patra has grown from providing 1500 children with mid-day meals to 1.5 million children in 15 years, becoming the world’s largest NGO-run school lunch programme. A Harvard case study, the Foundation has recently served the 2 billionth meal.