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(R)ice bucket challenge: The Indian take3 min read

September 24, 2014 3 min read

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(R)ice bucket challenge: The Indian take3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Indians have never failed to make a unique statement out of Western trends to this day.

When I met Sri Nija, a third year student of SOC, the first thing I learned about her was that she is deathly afraid of dogs. After spending an hour conversing with her, one then learns that she is also an enthusiastic, religious and strongly opinionated person whose excitement is fairly contagious. It’s easy to see how she had single-handedly kick-started the Rice Bucket Challenge in Manipal.

The objective is pretty basic. Buy a kilo of rice and donate it to the nearest needy person. “It’s not as simple as it sounds,” she says. “There’s a reason why it’s called a challenge. Some people, despite being far from well off, still preserve their dignity and suspicion. The task is to find someone who will accept the rice willingly.”

Sri Nija inspired a whole flock of students from the same school, including Ayushi Jain, Bhuma Meghana, Karthik Rajagopal, Padmanayaki Chelikani, Soham Kundu, D.R. Subhash, Priya Tyagi, and Nandini Krishnan. The number of people who have taken to this challenge is rising everyday. “Aside from all the positive feedback gushing in, there was one negative comment from an MIT student.” She says. “It doesn’t bother me. I don’t want to challenge anyone about charity, be it the government or individuals. I just want to look back later on and see inspiring stories.”

She gets optimistic responses from MIT students as well. Adithya Raj Bishen, a fourth year MIT student, impulsively decided to do it right then after getting acquainted with her.

“You have to do it yourself to experience the feeling.” Adithya says. “It’s something we don’t feel often – I felt like I was contributing something to society.” He mentions one of his professors, Ms. Niveditha Ramesh who got inspired by him via Facebook, and planned to do the challenge as well.

After noon, with Adithya riding shotgun, she took us into the twisted, quieter roads of Udupi, to a tiny slum area called Gundishetty compound. The word “slum” doesn’t fit the mood of the place. There are a couple of shed-like huts with metal roofing huddled close together. In the makeshift verandah under a rickety roof, a few adult men chat and play caroms. The women are all smiles, and the children are surprisingly friendly. Ms. Ramesh converses with them rapidly in Kannada, and later translates that they are construction workers who get weekly wages which do not satisfy all their basic needs. She smiles and says that they are willing to accept the rice. We each donate a kilo of rice to a family.

“Their courage and attitude are surprising.” Ms Ramesh says later. “They are happy with our donation, and agree that rice is the most important commodity, which is scarce in their households.” As we ride back to Tiger Circle, I ask her about how she feels after completing the challenge, and she grins. “I’ve always been into social working. When I came to know about people in Manipal doing the challenge, I immediately stood up. And this feeling that rises up, after you help someone who badly needed it, is wonderful.”

We have always found a way to help those who are not as better off, all we need is a push. Things have been set in motion and as the whole nation takes to it, we can proudly say that we are a part of it.

Sub-edited by Manasi Srivathsan