NEW DELHI—Thanks to border skirmishes, border patrols from India and Pakistan have cancelled a traditional, Independence Day-ritual of sharing sweets. Taking up their slack another army, called the 'Robin Hood Army' sans guns and howitzers and shorn off medevial-England brigandry, aims to ensure that a hundred thousand hungry in India and Pakistan will sleep, better fed, while their nations commemorate independence from the British.
The Robin Hood Army, a charity which operates in both India and Pakistan and arranges surplus food from restaurants to feed at least 4000 every day, have launched a #Mission100k on war footing. The campaign aims to mobilize students across India and Pakistan to rally together and dine at least 100,000 on both sides of the Line of Control.
“We wanted to do something unique which would inspire students to give back to the community,” Neel Ghose, founder of the Robin Hood Army told HuffPost India.
To that end, the Robin Hood Army has reached out to students of colleges across cities such as the Shri Ram College of Commerce (Delhi), St. Xavier’s (Calcutta and Mumbai), Indian School of Business (Hyderabad), PEC University of Technology (Chandigarh), Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lahore), and Institute of Business Administration (Karachi).
The organization, which consists of over 750 volunteers spread across 15 cities in India, has rapidly--and happily--infiltrated Pakistan. "What started in Delhi in June 2014 has now reached across the borders. We have over 45 volunteers in Pakistan," Ghose said.
Sarah Afridi and Sarfaraz Abid, who set up the Robin Hood Army in Pakistan, patriotically say that the "biggest" act of freedom is serving your own countrymen. "Especially those who need it most," said Afridi, "The aim is to guide students who are the future of the country, to actively bridge these inequalities."
Priyanka Joshi, Assistant Professor, SRCC, said, “Our students are chalking out plans to play their part in this unique cross-border movement. We believe this whole exercise will provide fantastic exposure to the younger generation."
Ghose emphasises that this isn't a one-time publicity exercise. "We are on a mission to curb the waste of food and stamp out hunger. The effort will continue," he said.
The campaign has already started getting attention from both sides of the border as these tweets suggest.
A wonderful way to mark August 14 and 15th together https://t.co/sAZzDZ8WvM— fatima bhutto (@fbhutto) August 13, 2015
The demography of Pakistan and India are very similar. According to the FAO, 40 percent of children in Pakistan are malnourished and underweight due to lack of access to adequate food. In India, close to 1.3 million children die every year because of malnutrition according to the World Health Organization.
And this is not because there isn't enough. Pakistan is the 8th largest food producing country and India is the second largest producer of wheat and rice, the world's major food staples.