This Independence Day, startups rally with the Robin Hood Army to fight a different kind of terrorism in India and Pakistan
We may be inching closer to 70 years of independence, but we have a long way to go in terms of freeing ourselves from hunger and attaining freedom in the true sense. India and neighbouring Pakistan — celebrating 70 years of independence today — are rife with tension and agitation, but it is rare to find people looking at the larger picture.
According to a Times of India report, as of May 2015, over 194.6 million people were undernourished in India, and UN statistics show that Pakistan is home to over 41.5 million undernourished people.
So as these two nations gear up to welcome their 70th year of independence, the Robin Hood Army is working on #Mission500k to unite Indians and Pakistanis into action and collectively serve over five lakh people.
With #Mission500k, the Robin Hood Army aims to help people realise that hunger is a real problem. Neel Ghose, VP Operations, Zomato, and Founder of Robin Hood Army says that until we hit the streets, it isn’t really possible to gauge how deep the problem of hunger is.
He adds that there are more deaths through hunger than AIDS, malaria, and terrorism combined.
What is the idea?
This actually dawned on us last year. We had Robin Hood Army chapters across India and Pakistan; each of these chapters work on a hyperlocal format and look after their neighbouring community. We thought Independence Day would be a great opportunity for all the teams to work together on one mission to address a huge common problem — hunger.
To get this going, the team tied has up with Uber, Zomato, Snapdeal, Oyo, Grofers, Inshorts, Roposo, InMobi and Pressplay, while VH1 has driven the message through the music fraternity with artists like Farhan Akhtar, Uday Benegal, and Vishal Dadlani coming together to be a part of this movement.
Speaking of why he tied up with these startups, Neel says that these are young teams who are used to building quickly and creating impact disruptively. With these teams coming together, the Robin Hood Army has a very good opportunity to create widespread awareness and real impact.
Sarah Afridi, who set up the Robin Hood Army in Pakistan, says
What we need is not monetary contributions, but just the time and compassion of our fellow citizens.
Feeding over 6,22,470 people and more
For over two years, this unique volunteer-driven group has been working towards providing food for all those who need it. The journey began with six volunteers and one night of feeding 150 people, and now there are over 5,215 ‘Robins’ in the ‘army’ across 30 cities in seven countries, who have fed over 6,22,470 people.
The ‘army’ of young professionals across cities ties up and works with restaurants, collecting their excess food and distributing it to those who need it.
"When there was a little scepticism about whether the food is actually reaching the people who need it, we decided to actively put up the images on our Facebook page," adds Neel.
Each startup is leveraging their core model and reach to help contribute to this mammoth project. Uber is providing transport across India and Pakistan, Zomato is helping reach out to restaurants through a microsite, InShorts is creating awareness with news bytes about the movement which will go to lakhs of users, Grofers is enabling their users to donate non-perishable food items via the app, while Oyo is serving breakfast on Independence Day through food sourced from all its properties.
Besides the actual contribution, each startup is working to push the idea of #Mission500k through social media/blog posts/mailers to their users asking them to join the movement.
Farhan Akhtar, who has tied up with Robin Hood Army says,
The Robin Hood Army’s desire to feed half a million people across India and Pakistan this year on their respective independence days is an effort I wholeheartedly support. I appeal to people everywhere to participate in this incredible initiative to help eradicate hunger and malnutrition. It’s our world. We have to make it better.