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Opinion

Bihar government plans Didi Ki Rasoi canteens in all district hospitals

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Encouraged by the success of the canteen called ‘Didi Ki Rasoi (DKR)’ run by SHG women popularly known as Jeevika didis together with Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLPS) in seven district hospitals of the state, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had asked the authorities to ensure that all the dining rooms in the remaining districts were turned over to them.

The move is seen as a further step towards the empowerment of women by the Bihar government, one of the NDA’s main survey promises.

The project, which started at the Vaishali District Hospital, then spread to Gaya, Purnia, Buxar, Sheohar, Sheikhpura and Saharsa. “In November 2020, the RBI signed an agreement with DKR and today 10 didis are providing food to 50 RBI employees daily,” said the secretary of the rural development department, Balamurugan D.

“Jeevika didis is doing wonderful work in contract farming, dairy farming, beekeeping and various other fields. The participation of women has increased in small-scale industries. All the canteens in the district hospitals should now be run by these jeevika didis, ”Kumar said during a meeting in the state capital on Friday evening.

The DKR chain of community kitchens is efficiently run by empowered rural women who are also members of JEEViKA (or Bihar State Rural Livelihoods Mission) self-help groups (SHG). “The DKRs have emerged as the true axiom of collective leadership pointing to significant changes in the rural community in terms of eliminating poverty in Bihar. These entrepreneurs are committed to serving customers (primarily district hospital patients) with quality, hygienic and homely food at a fair price. This is an innovation where no one is the teacher and everyone is the owner (partner), ”said Arvin Kumar Chaudhary, senior secretary of the department.

“The didis are not employees of DKR; they are the proud partners of your company. The initial capital contribution to start the business entitles them to associate. They now earn a monthly salary and also get a fair share of the profits at the end of the year, ”said Balamurugan.

Providing quality and hygienic food to large numbers of district hospital patients had been a challenge for the government. “While from the perspective of JEEViKA; Diversification in JEEViKA’s livelihood interventions was the need of the moment to bring sustainable and scalable livelihood options to poor rural women. Solutions of both challenges were sought in an amalgam and therefore DKR was conceptualized, ”said Chaudhary.

In addition to serving district hospital inpatients and their assistants, DKRs have also made their presence felt at district, state, and national fairs and exhibitions through food courts. DKR Buxar and Vaishali served food to the Bihar State Electoral Commission during the 2019 General Election. “Total sales during the 2019 General Election were worth 18 lakhs of rupees,” said an official.

“DKR has not only provided a steady source of income for the didis, but has also generated job opportunities for many other employees and other workers who work in these canteens,” said Balamurugan.

The state currently spends at least Rs 130 per patient per day on food according to the tariffs. Assigned by the state government, this amount is sent to women’s SHGs through BRLPS, which is an initiative of the state government.

SHSB has already been directed to make available space in the corresponding facilities for the dining room. Bihar state currently has 8.25 lakh SHG covering 94.85 lakh households.

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