New Delhi: One may not have heard of them so much, but one organisation is feeding 75,000 people of Delhi on a daily basis during this pan-India shutdown and preparing to feed twice as many people.
Sewa Bharti has emerged as the RSS offshoot that’s leading the charge among the saffron fold in feeding the underprivileged and daily wage workers during the time of crisis. While RSS itself has also directly mobilised cadres for this purpose, but the bulk of it is executed through Sewa Bharti.
As of on Friday, the organisation has pressed at least 5,000 cadres for feeding 75,000 Delhiites on a daily basis. So far the food they are providing is made out of 45 kitchens spread across Delhi. Once the food packets are ready, their zonal teams distribute among the needy in their area. But given the Tabhleeghi Jamat congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin that has proved to be a super spreader of COVID-19 and so far infected more than 400, Sewa Bharti is getting ready to feed double the number of Delhites — 1,50,000 — if the need arises.
Founded in 1989, this RSS offshoot works in the area of health care and education under the aegis of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. It has traditionally worked among the impoverished sections of society – slums, JJ clusters, resettlement colonies etc. This NGO of sorts came to being after then RSS supremo Balasaheb Deoras addressed a Delhi gathering in 1979 to start a wing that will exclusively work among the poor and vulnerable.
As the shutdown has dried up grocery stores, Sewa Bharti earlier opened a helpline where anyone hungry can dial for food. Soon after it was thrown open, on Monday alone, it received 12,500 calls.
A Sewa Bharti cadre who is working in one such kitchen told IANS, “Here we have been making Puri sabji (vegetables) and Khichdi (porridge) alternately. They are served hot as far as practically possible. But then there are teams who hand over dry foods like poha too.”
How many people work in any kitchen at any given time? The person who refused to be named said, “In the kitchen I work, there are 20 activists at any given time only to pack food. It’s crazy work in the morning.”
There are also targeted reach outs by the organisation in this shutdown period. One of the target segment is students from the north east region, who have been doubly cautious to step out due to discrimination. On Friday morning, one such team reached out to students with ration in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area. For such rations, many places in the NCR are chosen where there’s a significant population of migrants. One such workstation is in NCR regions Faridabad. The Sewa Bharti cadres have been sticking ration packets in Agarwal Sewa Saran there for days now.
Their cadres are also collaborating with temple trusts like that of popular Jhhandewalan Temple in the national capital where hundreds and thousands of meals are served each day.
The shutdown may be a trying time for most of us. But for those who get payed on a daily basis, it’s a question of survival. Sewa Bharti is trying to ensure no one goes hungry in the national capital, even if it means doubling its food packaging.