News

Rice replaces ice in India bucket challenge

Rice replaces ice in India bucket challenge

An Indian school boy eats a midday meal provided free at a government school in Hyderabad, India, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. India has offered free midday school meals since the 1960s in an effort to persuade poor parents to send their children to school, a program that reaches some 120 million children. The country now plans to subsidize wheat, rice and cereals for some 800 million people under a $20 billion scheme to cut malnutrition and ease poverty. Photo: Associated Press/Mahesh Kumar A.

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The famous “ice bucket” challenge is inspiring thousands of Indians to follow suit, but with a twist – they are replacing ice with rice in a bid to help the country’s vast population of poor, hungry people.

The challenge, going viral on social media, involves donating a bucket of rice to someone in need and clicking a picture to share online, with a tag #RiceBucketChallenge, to raise awareness.

Started by 38-year-old journalist Manju Latha Kalanidhi in the southern city of Hyderabad, the movement’s Facebook page defines it as a “local challenge for local needs” and has clocked more than 52,000 ‘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 software tycoon Bill Gates and tennis great Roger Federer have participated.

“I felt (the ice bucket challenge) was a little bizarre … hunger is a disease anybody would connect with,” Kalanidhi told Reuters.

Kalanidhi’s project has started to draw mass support. Students of the Indian Institute of Management in the southern state of Kerala posted a video after donating rice, while budget airline AirAsia India said its chief executive and senior management will participate on Monday.

Mass hunger, much of it poverty-induced, continues to haunt India. The country last year ranked 63rd on a list of 78 countries tracked by the International Food Policy Research Institute’s Global Hunger Index. China ranked sixth.

Tackling poverty is high on new Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda. On Thursday, he launched a banking-for-all scheme that he said should end “financial untouchability” and help lift people out of poverty.

India is 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 last year.

(Editing by Douglas Busvine and Clarence Fernandez)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Third ‘Night at the Museum’ marks final film for Williams, Rooney

nightatthemuseum

The credits for "Secret of the Tomb," which opens Friday, read "In loving memory of Mickey Rooney," and "For Robin Williams - the magic never ends."

in Music

Gene Simmons credits mother for drug-free life

Gene Simmons speaks onstage during the "4th and Loud" portion of the AMC 2014 Summer TCA on Friday, July 11, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The Kiss frontman insists he has never been drunk or gotten high because he always worried about his mom's reaction.

in Music

Joan Jett to open for The Who’s 50th anniversary tour

joan

The "My Generation" hitmakers are set to bring their The Who Hits 50! tour to North America.

in Entertainment

Chris Pratt thought ‘Guardians’ would be a box office flop

Guardians Of The Galaxy

The "Parks and Rec" star was very, very wrong.

in Lifestyle

We’re living 6 years longer

doctor

Fewer people are dying from cancer and heart disease in rich countries and there's a better survival rate in poor countries from tuberculosis and malaria.