IIT Delhi alumni who worked with the UN and India’s Health Ministry is running out of money to create more jobs for the needy

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IIT Delhi alumni who worked with the UN and India’s Health Ministry is running out of money to create more jobs for the needy
Sashakt Foundation
  • India’s coronavirus lockdown has been tough on millions of people who fall below the poverty line.
  • Pratik Kumar, an IIT Delhi alumni, who spent three decades of his career working for agencies like the United Nations, International NGO and India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare couldn’t sit idle at home.
It’s been more than 60 days since Pratik Kumar, a social activist, started going out every day to help those who have lost their jobs and are out of money and food because of the coronavirus. And, he plans to continue helping them but his funds are running out.

India’s coronavirus lockdown has been tough on millions of people who fall below the poverty line. Kumar, an IIT Delhi alumni, who spent three decades of his career working for agencies like the United Nations, International NGO and India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare couldn’t sit idle at home.

“All the children, parents were in complete economic distress. They were not able to do anything. These very self-respecting people were completely stuck. They couldn’t go out to fetch water. If we do not give them anything they wouldn’t survive,” Kumar told Business Insider India.

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His NGO, Sashakt Foundation has gone through a range of trouble from tons of paperwork to procuring e-passes to travel during the complete lockdown. Now the three-year-old NGO is facing its biggest challenge of all — cash crunch.

Getting food to those who need it
He started using the network of Sashakt Foundation to provide cooked meals to families who desperately needed it. They started with 300 meals in a day in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

However, the demand was far greater than what they expected and they had to increase their capacity to 8,000 meals in a day from 11 kitchens across India in various cities like Bhuvneshwar Ranchi, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Delhi, Noida, and Ghaziabad. For Kumar, serving cooked meals wasn’t an option they could continue indefinitely.
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“Within seven to eight days, we started giving dry rations. They were able to cook. So we prepared a kit that had essentials including 5-kilograms of rice, 5-kilograms atta, spices, tea, salt etc,” Kumar said.

Not just food, the NGO also distributed thousands of PPE kits to the Delhi and Haryana government.

Facing a cash crunch to create more jobs

In the beginning, a lot of people came to donate and volunteer for the NGO. Some organisations including hotel giant ITC foods, Azim Premji Initiatives and Feeding India stepped up. “We received about ₹50 lakh donations from individuals and corporates but the funds have dried up, even corporate funds have dried,” Kumar told Business Insider.
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Kumar has plans to provide sustainable jobs to people in rural areas. Some of it includes providing feed money to a group of women who make cloth masks in small cities like Gaya or Mirzapur. To help these women Kumar’s Sashakt Foundation requires at least ₹30 lakh.

They also plan to be a vendor on e-commerce sites for those small groups who use to sell jewellery in malls. However, all this won’t be possible if they run low on funds.

“Noida’s authority asked us for 10,000 face shields but I don’t have that kind of money,” Kumar said while explaining how he had to ask favours from his connections to make things work.
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Kumar believes they can help create a market which sells quality products and at the same time create job opportunities for those affected by the coronavirus.


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