There’s the Ice Bucket Challenge. And now there’s the Rice Bucket Challenge.
More than a million people worldwide have poured buckets of ice water over their heads as part of a fund-raising campaign for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
But when word of the challenge made its way to India, where more than 100 million people lack access to clean drinking water, locals weren’t exactly eager to drench themselves with the scarce supply.
And so, a spinoff was born.
Manju Kalanidhi, a 38-year-old journalist from Hyderabad who reports on the global rice market, put her own twist on the challenge. She calls her version the Rice Bucket Challenge, but don’t worry, no grains of rice went to waste.
Instead, they went to the hungry.
"I personally think the [Ice Bucket Challenge] is ideal for the American demographic," she says. "But in India, we have loads of other causes to promote."
Kalanidhi came up with a desi version — that’s a Hindi word to describe something Indian. She chose to focus on hunger. A third of India’s 1.2 billion people live on less than $1.25 USD a day, and a kilogram of rice, or 2 pounds, costs between 80 cents and a dollar. A family of four would go through roughly 45 pounds of rice a month, she says.
That’s why she’s challenging people to give a bucket of rice, cooked or uncooked, to a person in need. Snap a photo, share it online and, just as with the Ice Bucket Challenge, nominate friends to take part, she suggests. For those who want to help more than one person at a time, she recommends donating to a food charity.
Photo: Rice is just as nice as ice when it comes to bucket challenges. Right: Manju Latha Kalanidhi, creator of the Rice Bucket Challenge, gives grains to a hard-working neighbor. (Courtesy of Manju Latha Kalanidhi)