PM Narendra Modi endorses Swasth Bharat Yatra, applaudes FSSAI’s efforts for building awareness around safe and healthy diets.
Our Bureau, Mumbai
Swasth Bharat Yatra, the world’s biggest cyclothon to nudge people to ‘Eat Right’ is culminating in a grand finale in New Delhi after more than 100 days since its flag-off on 16th October 2018, World Food Day.
Yatra which began from six different locations – Leh, Panaji, Thiruvananthapuram, Puducherry, Kolkota and Agartala on six different tracks witnessed the participation of more than 10,000 volunteer cyclists covering over 20,000 km across 36 States and UTs spreading the message of ‘Eat Safe, Eat Healthy and Eat Fortified’.
The Concluding Ceremony is being held at Central Park, Rajiv Chowk on 29th January 2019 with Minister of State, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Shri Choubey as Chief Guest and many other dignitaries.
This Yatra is a part of the ‘Eat Right India’ movement, a one-of-a-kind, pan-India, public health revolution to create a sustainable culture and habit of safe and healthy diets by promoting individual awareness, collective action, strengthening institutional systems and fostering partnerships.
Led by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, it is a collaborative effort of citizens, industry, social and professional organizations and other partners. The goal of this Yatra was achieved through engagement activities and events in more than 2,100 locations along the Yatra and the creation of over 21,000 local, community ‘Eat Right Champions’ who would sustain this movement in the future. With more than 10 lakh participants and 2.5 crore people reached, the yatra has made ‘Eat Right India’ a people’s movement.
The Swasth Bharat Yatra witnessed the enthusiastic participation from all states and UTs. The tremendous effort of these states was recognized through an Awards Ceremony at the Grand Finale in New Delhi. Tamil Nadu was declared the the ‘Best State Overall’ for its exemplary participation.
Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra were adjudged the Best States with population above 3 crores. Punjab, Goa and Delhi were recognized as the Best States having population less than 3 crores. Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand were given special awards for their participation despite their hilly and difficult terrain.
As a result of hurricane ‘Titli’, the route in West Bengal and Odisha had to be diverted through Bihar at the last moment. Despite that the state of Bihar managed all the events quite efficiently & co-ordinated them very well for which it received a special mention. Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli left a mark on Swasth Bharat Yatra even though these union territories got only one day for city activation. They organized all the events very impressively. Puducherry was the starting point for track 4. Although the cycles couldn’t reach there on time, still commendable efforts made to make the grand opening of Swasth Bharat Yatra. The Best Performing Cities were also recognized region-wise. Notably, Karbi Anglong, Assam, a very tiny hilly place saw the participation of almost every resident in the yatra. In Jabalpur, MP, a record-breaking 1000 cyclists participated. Indore, MP had the largest of ‘Prabhat Pheri’ with more than 3000 participants. Bahragora, a small tribal town saw huge participation, particularly the musical flute band by the girls of Kasturba Vidhyalaya, which was noteworthy. Last but not the least, specially-abled cyclists were also honoured for their participation during the yatra, which served as an inspiration to all.
Several Associations were recognized for their commendable effort in spreading the message of Eat Right. NCC, NSS and Nehru Yuva Kendra were honoured for their enthusiastic participation and commendable efforts throughout the yatra. Feeding India, No Food Waste, Mera Parivar, Biodizel Association of India and Vatsalya Foundation, Jaipur also contributed significantly and were also honoured. Professional Associations such as Indian Medical Association (IMA), Association of Food Scientists and Technologists of India (AFSTI), Indian Dietetic Association (IDA), Nutrition Society of India (NSI), were recognized for bringing credibility and weight to the message of Eat Right through their professional expertise, experience and engagement with the community.
Industry Associations such as CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, NRAI, ICC, RAI, AIFPA, FHRAI and regional Hotel and Restaurant Associations were felicitated for providing tremendous logistical support in hosting the cyclists wherever they went. Many corporates including both food and non-food businesses extended support through donations and amplification of key messages for which they were lauded. Development Partners such as Tata Trusts, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Nutrition International (NI), PATH, World Food Programme (WFP) and World Bank were also honoured for their support and contribution.
To engage with every section of the society, particularly the youth, the Eat Right Creativity Challenge is currently underway as a part of Eat Right India Movement. This includes a national-level poster-making, wall-art and digital art competition for school and college students and professionals to unleash their creativity for a public health cause. The themes of these competitions are based on the key messages of Eating Right to bring about social and behavioural change through art. So far, an overwhelming response from schools all over the country has been received in all the categories.
Over 75,000 students from more than 3600 registered schools have actively participated in on-the spot poster making competition. About 150 walls of various States have been painted with the Eat Right messages under the wall-art competition. The digital-art category, which was open for all, received more than 800 entries that included videos, short stories, creatives and jingles, showcasing the talent of the youth. Entries have come from all over the country with the highest numbers from Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Rajasthan among others. Food Commissioner Smt P. Amudha has shown incredible leadership in the State of Tamil Nadu where more than 2,500 posters from over 2,000 schools in the State were received. At the Concluding Ceremony, up to three winners were awarded in each sub-category, with 31 cash prizes in all. Padmashree Paresh Maity has graciously agreed to provide an art workshop for all the winners.
Implementation partners Health Set Go, The Smart Pro foundation, McMillan, Lady Irwin College and FRAC were recognized for their support.
Eat Right Start-Up Awards have been instituted to encourage entrepreneurs in the food ecosystem. An overwhelming 126 applications have been received from which a winner in each of the four categories will be chosen at the Concluding Ceremony to receive as cash prize of INR 50,000. Shorlisted applicants will be mentored by an FSSAI-Buddy for a year.
Several social innovations by FSSAI around building an enabling environment in the food safety ecosystem were showcased and celebrated on 28th January 2019, on the eve of the Concluding Ceremony. These initiatives were highlighted in each state during the Swasth Bharat Yatra and included RUCO, an initiative for safeguarding health and conserving energy through an ecosystem for collecting and converting unhealthy used cooking oil into biodiesel, Clean Street Food, to provide safe and hygienic street food experience to citizens across India, Hygiene + Rating, an initiative for empowering consumers to make informed choices by rating food safety and hygiene standards in food service establishments, and Save Food, Share Food, Share Joy, a campaign to curb food waste & promote donation of surplus food to fight hunger. This event was organized to take stock of what has happened so far, recognize partners and shed light on the way forward for each of these initiatives. After India’s first Clean Street Food Hub at Kankaria Lake, Ahmedabad in Association with FDA, Gujarat, three more locations were declared as potential Clean Street Food Hubs by FSSAI- Urban Chowk Ahmedabad and Gopi Talav Surat from Gujarat and 56 Dukaan, Indore from Madhya Pradesh. Hygiene Rating Certificates were awarded to 22 FBOs for early adoption of the Rating Scheme. A new campaign under Save Food, Share Food, Share Joy was launched, ‘A Small Gesture: A Big Difference’-relating to food waste in social gatherings in the presence of 20 food recovery agencies. Three FBOs from Gujarat and Mumbai were awarded the RUCO emblem for repurposing used cooking oil. Authorized Aggregators for used-cooking oil collection were recognized. Several biodiesel manufactureres took a pledge to join the initiative.
The Eat Right India movement, particularly the Swasth Bharat Yatra have been instrumental in galvanizing the food safety network in all the states. Food safety and nutrition have now been brought prominently into public consciousness and Food Safety Commissioners are geared up to address these issues reach out to people through numerous channels. State-level committees have been reactivated to take this movement forward at the district and sub-district level in the coming months.
Hon’ble PM, Shri Narendra Modi, endorsed the Eat Right India movement and Swasth Bharat Yatra and encouraged everyone, especially children to join this movement in his last ‘Man Ki Baat’ episode of 2018. He applauded FSSAI’s efforts to go beyond its role as a regulator towards building mass awareness around safe and healthy diets. Going by the tremendous energy and response from all corners, the Eat Right India movement is on its way to becoming a juggernaut to change the way India eats.