38-Yr-Old IIS Officer Becomes First Woman To Trek Kerala’s Men-Only Peak

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38-year-old Dhanya Sanal from Kerala has scripted history by becoming the first woman to scale the Agasthyarkoodam peak in Kerala. The 1,868 metres (6,128 feet) tall peak in southern Kerala was considered as a sacred mountain and restricted for women to climb it. On November 30, 2018, Kerala High Court passed the order allowing women participation in the annual trekking programme to the Agasthyarkoodam peak. Amid protests from conservationist groups, Dhanya Sanal braved the rough terrains and reached the summit on January 17, after an extremely strenuous two-day hike, reported The Hans India.

Sanal, who is an officer with Indian Information Service (IIS) and works in the Defence Ministry, was accompanied by 99 male trekkers. Two women forest rangers guided the group as the Forest Department has ensured to provide all forms of assistance to the women trekkers of this expedition season.

History behind the mountain

The mountain, named after the mythological saint Agasthya, is considered holy by the Kani, an aboriginal tribal Hindu community. Twenty years ago, they even installed a statue of Agasthya atop the mountain to showcase its religious worth.

ചിട നീണ്ട വഴിയളന്നും പിളർന്നും കാട്ടു-ചെടിയുടെ തുടിക്കുന്ന കരളരിഞ്ഞുംചിലയുമമ്പും നീട്ടിയിരതിരഞ്ഞും ഭാണ്ഡ-മൊലിവാർന്ന ചുടുവിയർപ്പാൽ പൊതിഞ്ഞുംമലകയറുമീ നമ്മളൊരുവേള ഒരുകാത-മൊരുകാതമേ ഉള്ളു മുകളീലെത്താൻ..With Mridul Jacob,Ajay Krishna ,Manu Mangalassery,Swaroop Kottakkal,Muhammed Aslam,Arun S Aghori

Posted by Dhanya Sanal on Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Speaking to The Hans India, Principal Secretary of the Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department, Dr V. Venu informed that the tribal men obtain some rare, medicinal herbs from this mountain. Since the task of gathering these herbs is predominantly performed by men, it had become an unsaid custom to not allow any women beyond the base camp at Athirumala.

Protests against the HC verdict

For the last few years, many women have come forward to protest against the discriminating norm leading to the final judgement by Kerala HC. The much-talked-about verdict that struck down this age-old custom was met with a series of protests all over Kerala, much similar to the ongoing Sabarimala controversy. Agasthyarkoodam Kshetra Kanikkar Trust and Antharashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP) organised protest marches to prevent the women from climbing the peak, even after it was approved by law.

Notwithstanding the controversies, around 100 women have already registered for the 2019 trekking expedition, alongside 4600 men. The highest number of women (16) in a single batch will perform the trek on upcoming February 14.

Also Read: A Recycling Crusader At Home, This IAS Officer Is Giving Hyderabad An Eco-Friendly Makeover

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‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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It's not how much we give
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