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Saving India's poor from a barefoot existence

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 Madhuri Shukla
The devout walking barefoot to a temple, in exchange for getting their wish fulfilled, is a common sight in India. But do you know why? Because its tough and painful! Now imagine the plight of those thousands of people who have to walk barefoot every single day, be it in the scorching heat, torrential rains or bone-chilling winters! The irony here is that India is the second largest producer of footwear in the world.

To ensure that people can walk safely and to create mass awareness about this important but neglected issue, Mr. Joyappa Achaiah, Founder, Initiator and Creator of 'Safe Karnataka, Safe India' has conducted a month-long collection drive under the banner 'Barefoot India Campaign'. The campaign commenced on September 3, 2017.

To experience the hardship of such needy people, Mr. Joyappa himself went barefoot to work for 100 days staring from May 1, 2017, and continued this till August 8, 2017.

Speaking about the campaign, Mr. Joyappa informed, “Other NGO’s are already working on issues like education, safety, women empowerment and the like, but something so basic as footwear has never been highlighted. Protective gear for feet is an essential need, and we as a team aim at collecting and distributing 10 crore footwear in a span of less than 3 years.”

Walking barefoot is not just painful but it can have serious deleterious impact on your health. It puts unnecessary stress on the ankle and foot arch, exposes the foot skin to dust and allergens hence making the skin rough and hard with rashes. It can even tear the skin and cause fungal infections. Walking barefoot also exposes you to Hookworm Infection, Cutaneous Larva Migrans, Tungiasis and Tetanus.

Mr Joyappa explained that though the campaign began from Karnataka, it is being expanded to not just the national but also the international level.

The collection campaign is majorly focused on IT parks, institutes and malls. People can donate their footwear and those in good condition are being directly distributed to the poor and needy. Those which need repair are being refurbished before distribution.

The organizers of the campaign have submitted a proposal to the Karanataka Government for a scheme named Paradharaksh Bhagya which can help some 25 lakh poor people get footwear and slippers.

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