A bucket of rice being donated (photo: Rice Bucket Challenge)
Inspired by the famous "ice bucket" challenge, thousands of Indians are taking it up with an Indian twist. Instead of throwing ice-cold water on themselves, they are donating rice to people in need. The challenge, already going viral on social media, involves donating a bucket of rice or biryani, and sharing a photo online to raise awareness.
Started by Hyderabad journalist Manju Latha Kalanidhi on August 23, the movement's Facebook page defines it as a "Desi Challenge for Desi Needs" and has received more than 54,000 'likes' so far.
The inspiration was drawn from the "ice bucket" challenge, in which people pour a bucket of ice-cold water over their heads to encourage donations for research into Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease. Celebrities such as Bill Gates and Roger Federer have participated worldwide.
"I felt (the ice bucket challenge) was a little bizarre ... hunger is a disease anybody would connect with," Kalanidhi told Reuters.
Her project has started to draw mass support in the past week. Students of the Indian Institute of Management in Kerala posted a video after donating rice, while budget airline AirAsia India said its chief executive and senior management will participate on Monday.
The biggest single donation came from a college in Karimnagar on Wednesday where 2,000 students donated 2,200 kilos of rice.
According to Reuters, mass hunger continues to haunt India. The country ranked 63rd on the Global Hunger Index last year, while China ranked sixth. This is despite India being the world's second-biggest rice consumer, with reserves of 21.2 million tonnes of the grain by July 1. It was the world's biggest rice exporter in 2013.
India has the world’s largest food distribution system that provides subsidized food grain to millions of people under the poverty line, but this is hampered by corruption and inefficiency.