Chosen “for dropping everything to feed millions in India at a time of great need and suffering.”
New York based India-born Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna has been chosen for the prestigious 2020 Asia Game Changer Award for feeding millions across India amid the covid-19 pandemic through a massive ‘FeedIndia’ drive.
The Asia Game Changer Awards, launched by the Asia Society — a US-based non-profit organization — in 2014, identify and honor true leaders who make a positive contribution to the future of Asia.
Asia Society’s 2020 Asia Game Changer Awards honorees were chosen for their responses to the year’s twin traumas of COVID-19 and racially motivated violence.
In partnership with Citi, Asia Society annually honors game-changing leaders from a broad geographic range and varied backgrounds, it said. “This year’s honorees have saved lives, changed lives, and lifted spirits all across the globe.”
Khanna, 48, is the only Indian among the six honorees including Korean boy band BTS, noted US cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Japanese-American tennis star Naomi Osaka, producer of Oscar-winning Korean film ‘Parasite’ Miky Lee and business leaders and philanthropists Joe and Clara Tsai.
The six will be honored at a virtual event in October featuring a special message by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a performance from Yo-Yo Ma, and a special moment to honor frontline health care workers in the US and Asia.
“I have always looked up to Asia Society for connecting East & West. Today, I am proud to be awarded #AsiaGameChangers Award 2020,” Khanna tweeted.
“Humbled to be in the company of @BTS_twt, @naomiosaka, @YoYo_Ma, @JoeClara #MikyLee,” he wrote
“By September 23rd, we complete 175 Days of #FeedIndia and also cross 40 Million+ Meals(Cooked and Dry Ration) Working 24/7, best to our abilities to ensure that kitchens are running in our homeland,” Khanna wrote in another tweet.
The Asia Society noted “Khanna has been feeding people since he was a child. But not until 2020 did it become a matter of life or death.”
“In April, while quarantining in his Manhattan apartment, Khanna, host of MasterChef India, monitored news out of his homeland and watched, with horror and helplessness, as a virus-fueled humanitarian crisis unfolded.”
“Millions of Indians needed food. Khanna desperately wanted to help, but how? Khanna turned to Twitter, where he has more than 2.3 million followers, and issued a heartfelt plea for information on communities in need,” the Society said in its citation.
“I wanted to show that solidarity still exists,” he was quoted as saying. Khanna received a torrent of responses, and #FeedIndia was born.
Khanna partnered with India’s National Disaster Relief Force for logistical and on-the-ground support and his movement soon received aid from grain companies, tech firms, and offers of industrial kitchen space in Mumbai.
By late-August #FeedIndia had delivered more than 30 million dry food packets and cooked meals to hundreds of cities throughout India.
“I feel like the past 30 years … have prepared me for this moment,” Khanna said. “This has been the most gratifying [time] in my culinary career.”
Past awardees include PepsiCo’s former CEO Indra Nooyi, South Delhi Deputy Police Commissioner Chhaya Sharma, and co-founder and CEO of non-governmental education organization Pratham, Madhav Chavan.
Vikas Khanna presents his masterpiece cookery book to Bill Clinton (October 21, 2015)