Saturday, July 25, 2009

Patra patron flies off the ladle

Patra patron flies off the ladle

Rashmi Belur. Bangalore

TV Mohandas Pai, director (human resources), Infosys Technologies and also a founder-trustee of the Akshaya Patra Foundation, sprang to the Foundation's defence after allegations were leveled against it in the state assembly by Congress leader DK Shivakumar on Thursday.
"We are not fraudulent. We too pay taxes. All this talk of irregularities in Akshaya Patra is stupid. I am ready to answer any question about the Foundation. We are not ready to listen to unfounded criticism. We could close the Akshaya Patra Foundation tomorrow. But are there people capable of running the Foundation's activities?" Pai told DNA on Friday.
In a detailed statement in the assembly, Shivakumar had alleged that there was financial fraud in the running of the mid-day meal scheme. He had also said that the Foundation raised donations abroad by displaying pictures of hungry and undernourished children in India — "seeking alms with a begging bowl". The government later announced that a legislature committee will probe the allegations.
A furious Pai responded:"We do not need any credit from the government. I am appealing to the MLAs who have been creating such problems not to rake up an unnecessary controversy. If we stop the project, there are many children who will suffer as they would not get their mid-day meals."
"We are very upset and angry. The government is free to do what it must. This is a public-private-partnership programme. So, there is no need to relate the ISKCON case and the Foundation," he said and added: "All donations are voluntary."
He said when the mid-day meal programme first started, there was dearth of funds. "We have been praised for running the largest school meal programme in the world. The funds we get from the US comprise only 10% of what we receive. The total expenditure for the programme in the state is Rs68 crore, and the state government gives us Rs38 crore," he said.
"The trust receives no material benefit. We have noticed that the numbers of drop-outs from schools has reduced after the programme was introduced. Anyone wishing to check on the Foundation's activities is free to check the kitchens and schools, and inspect the quality of food supplied. Even audit reports of the Trust can be provided," he said

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