How can students contribute at an individual level: Bringing about change one dish at a time

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When you feel patriotic and want to do something for the country, for the poor, to bring about change or to contribute in some way and you think what can a teenager like me do?  All that remains of this brief ignition within you are heated discussions with like minded friends which actually is never executed by any of you and that’s that. But you can help. You can bring about change in your own small ways. The student community is of utmost importance and value to the country, and if this community sets benchmarks for processes of progress and growth then a nation’s integrity will know no bounds. One does not have to join the Swach Abhiyan and clean the beach on Sunday mornings which will be littered again by evening ; go for a peace march with placards of patriotic slogans and phrases which passers-by notice but don’t really take note of ; go to an orphanage and take tons of vada pavs to give to the children every once in a while. Do not grumble if the beach is littered again, because it will be. Instead, when you see someone littering, embarrass them, go upto them and ask them if they’re educated and walk away. Rather than going on peace marches, arrange for open discussions to be held, blog about it, let people know, and try to execute as much of it as possible. Go to the orphanage, but don’t take food, food they get, take pens and paper, pencils and erasers. Go to teach them on the weekends. Help educate them.

Although , on an individual level change can be brought about only if you look at the man in the mirror. We are all students, with assignments to be submitted, papers to be written, exams to be studied for and outings to be managed in a limited amount of pocket money. So, with so much on our plate, how do we contribute to the greater good? How, on an individual level can you make a difference? How can you spread happiness and make that change? The world becomes a better place, one step at a time, starting with you. Let me share a small incident with you, which will give you a fresh outlook on how to contribute by yourself on a grassroot level, to not only the nation, but to humanity as well –

As I got out of Mainland China, I saw a small boy outside, sitting with a plastic tin can. The 1500 Rs chilly garlic noodles and thai pot rice squirmed uneasily in my stomach. I saw an even smaller girl, about four years of age, run to the little boy with a shiny plastic wrapper clenched in her fist. The boy looked around seven years old. God knows why, but both exclaimed in delight on seeing the wrapper. That night when I ordered food from a local restaurant, and began to unwrap the parcel, the silver foil reminded me of the two little kids I saw outside the restaurant earlier in the day. Two shiny wrapping materials ; two different sets of stomachs. One expensively well fed, the other just secreting acid to fill its empty walls, both standing on the same footpath. Two completely different worlds.

Gurukrupa’s paneer tikka masala looked as mouth- watering as ever, but as I took the first spoonful, I had difficulty in swallowing it thanks to a lump in my throat. Twenty minutes later, I was parking my car opposite Mainland China. I hurried to the footpath, where the small boy sat, and he was there alright. I gave him the whole meal- paneer tikka masala, jeera fried rice, one butter roti and a glass of buttermilk. He was so shocked, his eyes widened to resemble large ten rupee coins. Without so much as looking at me twice, he tore open the package, tore the roti in half and gobbled it up. I guess he was saving the other half for his little sister. How hungry he must’ve been……I had never appreciated Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games more.

I had 70 Rs left with me after ordering from Gurukrupa, and with that money, I had a sandwich and a small Thums-Up from a roadside stall. And I must tell you, never in my life did I have such a filling sandwich. It not only filled my stomach, it satisfied my mind and fueled my conscience.

How many times do we all go to Starbucks? Or go out for drinks at expensive sports bars or clubs? How many times do we order from McDonald’s or Dominoes to satisfy our cravings? In going to a dinner or lunch with friends or family- be it Barbeque Nation or a quick snack in Taco Bell, we spend thousands. And we don’t even notice it because we all come from well-to-do families and THANK GOD for that. But what about those who go for days without a single grain of food in their stomachs? We’re young adults. We are in a phase which is selfish. We want to go out, wear nice clothes, eat nice food, have a nice time. But next time, before you Snapchat the Nutella waffles from Di Bella, just think about how many times you’ve had it before. Think about how with half of that money you could buy sweets for so many unprivileged children, who have never tasted a chocolate in their life, let alone Nutella. It’s not that you shouldn’t eat out at all. No one can be Mother Teresa. But we can all try to be Santa Claus. Because charity should not be forced, it should come from within. So you must attend to your own needs and cravings too, just in a conscientious limit, so that you can help the ‘needy’ too. 3000 children die out of malnutrition in our country everyday. And here we are, eating in expensive restaurants and gourments.

Suppose you have 500 Rs with you. Go out. Eat. Exercise control over yourself, try spending only 400 out of it, save the rest. With that 100 rs you can buy atleast 10 vadapavs and distribute it among small children who sit outside temples begging.

Create a balance. Next time after you eat somewhere nice and expensive with your friends, make a pact. Tell them that next time we plan an outing, we’ll eat somewhere cheaper, in half the money we spent last time, and with that money, fill someone else’s stomach, who, unlike you, does not know the feeling of a peaceful sleep that follows a full stomach. Suggest this to your family, and your parents might get so impressed with you that they might even increase your pocket money! Try following this in an alternative pattern or atleast once in a month. One does not have to join an NGO to do this. Or the Rotaract Club.  Apply the moral science lectures you had in school. Just a little thought provoking food service by oneself. Because we’ve had plenty of reviews titled,’ Food for Thought’; It’s time we start serving food for conscience, not just for ourselves, but for others too.

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