Rajasthan farmer used Rs 50 lakh life savings to feed needy during lockdown
Ram Niwas Manda said his father encouraged him to help the needy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote to him praising his service to the humanityUpdated: Apr 30, 2020 15:58 IST
Few people would give up their life savings and family’s security to help others. But a farmer in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan has donated his life savings of Rs 50 lakh to help feed the hungry during the lockdown.
Ram Niwas Manda of Ummednagar village in Osian sub-district of Jodhpur has so far provided ration kits to 8,500 families in 83 gram panchayats.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former cricketers VVS Laxman and Virendra Sehwag have appreciated his efforts. PM Modi wrote to Manda on April 11, lauding his efforts to feed the poor and disabled families. The cricketers also called him and praised him.
“Obviously I was thrilled when I got the mail from the PM. I was busy and saw the mail only on April 12. All this appreciation makes me feel humbled and encouraged to work harder to help people. I am glad I did the right thing,” he said.
He denied any links to any political party. “I don’t have any political ambitions. I am not interested in propaganda. I only wanted to help people,” he said.
Manda says his father, Paburam, inspired him
“When the lockdown started, we heard of people going hungry as they did not have money to buy food. So, then, I thought I should do something and spoke to my father. He was very encouraging and said we should try to help others in this time of need,” says Ram Niwas, 39.
Manda said his father offered his life savings and that inspired him to do the same. “So together, we contributed Rs 50 lakhs to provide food to people,” he says.
“We formed teams of volunteers to prepare lists of the needy in 83 gram panchayats. I tried to reach out to those who are not covered under any government welfare scheme – such as daily wagers, labourers and the differently-abled.”
Manda said one kit contains 10 kg wheat flour, 1 kg rice, 1 kg dal, 1 kg oil, spices, soaps and biscuits. The cost of each kit is Rs 790. He said the contents would last a family of 4-5 people for 8-10 days.
Manda said after he began distributing the kits, other philanthropists in the villages too came forward and began contributing. “What began as an individual effort ended up becoming a collective one with others making their contributions in this time of distress,” said Manda.
He said in the first round of ration distribution which began from April 2, 6000 kits were distributed. Then there was a demand from some villages where no one came forward to help those left out of the government aid, we carried out a second round of ration distribution and gave 1500 kits and in the third round, we distributed 1000 kits.
He says he has around 1200 kits still in store and will continue to send them to villages from where there is demand. “In case the lockdown is extended further, then I will try to get people together to donate and provide food to those in need,” he said.
Manda does not have any qualms about giving up his life savings.
“My brother and I have 83 bighas of land. We have money to meet our daily expenses. We don’t immediately need savings. Our children are young. My son is 13 years and my brother’s daughters are one and five. We will build up our savings again.”