In ‘Dadi Ki Rasoi’ a nominal fee of Rs 5 is charged to respect the dignity and pride of anyone who comes to eat despite his economical status. Mr. Anoop always emphasized the fact that when a person pays an amount for any service, he then gets a full say in that. He can appreciate the service and as well as criticize it. Most importantly the food which he has paid money for, he can ask more if needed.
Timings to serve the meals have remained the same for five and a half years, every day between 10 am to 11:30 am at Sector 17 and 12 pm to 2 pm at Sector 29.
Not just food, outside his restaurant, is found a stall named ‘Sadbhavna Store’ selling old clothes, books and footwear which are donated by people they no longer need, priced at Rs 10. Unlike other donations, Mr. Anoop has levied a condition that the clothes that are brought to him should be in a decent condition as well as washed and ironed properly. Otherwise, they are returned the very moment they are brought to him. The very same is applied to books and footwear which are accepted only when they are fettle.
“It is easier to donate clothes which no longer interests us, are not in fashion anymore, or are defective. But, here at Sadbhavna Store, such donations are refused, instead, the owner of the cloth should properly get them washed and pressed.” Mr. Anoop told Efforts For Good “Through Sadbhavna store, we are making people realize the value of goodwill which is not charity. If you are coming to me with your old clothes for charity, it should carry certain emotions.” He added.
Since he is a certified Chemist and owns two shops in Noida, he knew that not everybody can afford medicines. To combat this problem, he enrolled himself with ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana’ in Noida and named it ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendra’. The first-ever shop to provide medicines to the deprived sections of the society at his residence.
Over the years after the Internet culture came and netizens started making his videos viral, many people who are not residents of Delhi or Delhi NCR also came and joined hands with Mr. Anoop for the great work he has been doing. “We never asked anybody to donate, whatever big or small they do, it is because of their own will,” told Mr. Anoop.
“Many philanthropists come to the shop and donate either in cash or in-kind on their special occasions such as birthdays, marriage anniversaries, or any success parties. Not just them, but the shopkeepers from whom Dadi Ki Rasoi gets raw materials for the food, even they discount us for the good cause. “Something which is asked in the name of donation is not charity but, alms,” he added.
How Did It All Start
Anoop Khanna is the third generation in his family who is into social service. Before him, his father and grandfather both had contributed to this field as freedom fighters. The spirit to do something for society was always imbibed in him from the start. Apart from being a Chemist and a Businessman in Noida, he was also involved in many relief and social help group works since the time he was a youth.
The idea to start a kitchen for the socially and economically deprived people came from Anoop’s mother five and a half years ago when one fine day at the dining table, she was found unhappy about something.
“She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she was not able to eat, another reason was her illness of course. On enquiring, she told the reason that she is not eating because of her small appetite, there may be many like her because of whom the food is wasted. Why not open a small kitchen and serve food to the ones who are poor and hungry?” Anoop said.
This was her last wish and Anoop had to make it possible for her at any cost. His mother even offered her savings for the cause and at this moment, there was nothing that could stop him. He refused his beloved mother’s savings and promised her something small, yet a worthy startup for the poor.
With an initial investment of Rs 30,000 and a suitable name “Dadi Ki Rasoi” which Anoop’s daughter suggested, they began the work from their home. At first, the startup was so small that they could only cater to 15-20 people, but gradually when people started joining in with this initiative, not just the investment but also the kitchen was converted into a stall, and later into a full air conditioned restaurant after the Lockdown.
Anoop says that whatever he does for people, the satisfactory level is immeasurable and priceless. He has a team of genuine people who are like-minded and never step away from doing “Sewa”. Even the vegetable vendor from whom they take vegetables sell them at a wholesale price and in return take food for himself and his family. Anoop considers it as a give-and-take relationship.
Anoop pays his team and believes that unpaid jobs have no future. “I have a small team to which I pay for their hard work. I do this because, if there is no remuneration involved, there won’t be any accountability,” he said.
“This is no charity but a responsibility. If I keep volunteers for the work and they are absent, there won’t be any damage nor can I hold them responsible but the people who depend on our Rs 5 meal will suffer,” he added.
The quality of the food which has always remained an utmost priority is monitored with the help of four CCTV cameras which are installed in the kitchen. Anoop not only examines all the raw materials himself but also tastes the food before it is finally served to the customers.
Post Pandemic Hurdles Faced By Anoop Khanna And His Team
Anoop told EFG that not much has changed post-pandemic but yes the number of people who used to come to eat at his shop got reduced to 300 from 500 approximately. He said that it had happened because most of them have left for their homes after the imposition of the lockdown. Moreover, some of them still fear to eat outside but not the ones who are poor as they have no options.
To educate the visitors of Coronavirus, he and his team have also organised a health campaign with doctors and health staffs.
When asked about the funds and how it has been affected after the Covid-19, Anoop told that he and his work doesn’t at all depend upon the charitable fundings. The fundings only add extra items to the menu.
“I started ‘Dadi Ki Rasoi’ with ‘Dal, Chawal and Achar’ from my own money and under my own capacity. I can still carry forward this work as I am a contended old man who has no responsibilities of the family anymore. Both my children are married and well settled. I am a Chemist by profession and my shop gets me a decent monthly income. I was able to expand this project with the help of fundings and philanthropists but as soon as I will stop getting them, I will come back to ‘Dal, Chawal and Achar’” he said.
Anoop Khanna urged all the youths to step into the field of social work only when they are settled well in life. He believes that until and unless you are content and fulfilled in your life and goals, these kinds of works, which require a lot of money, will only bring a burden to you.
“I am a person who has achieved almost everything I have desired in my life when I was a youth. Now I have both time and money. So, anyone who is willing to do social works should first reach such levels in his life because this is a work that requires a lot of consistency and dedication. If you will not have sufficient resources to back you, the only way out will be seeking help from others or even asking for funds which one should never do.” he said while concluding the conversation.
People like Anoop Khanna are not only setting examples in front of the youths but are making sure that the impact they leave is carried forward in the coming generations as well. It is their vision and hard work that six years ago where the concept of economical private canteens cum hotels was not even known to people, today in India, almost six hundred are running smoothly.
We at the Efforts Of Good wish Anoop Khanna loads of success in this field ahead.