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Indians switch ice for rice in new charity challenge

Rice Bucket Challenge Facebook Page

First came the Ice Bucket Challenge, and now there's the Rice Bucket Challenge – India's twist on the fundraising campaign that has taken the internet by storm.

Unlike the Ice Bucket challenge, which involves pouring icy cold water on one's head to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), participants of the Rice Bucket Challenge do not dump rice over their heads. Instead, they are asked to buy or cook a bucket of rice and give it to someone in need.

Alternatively, participants can donate medicines worth 100 rupees ($1.65) to the nearest government hospital.

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The project, launched over the weekend, is the brainchild of Indian journalist Manju Latha Kalanidhi, who was seeking "a local, practical and tangible" response to the Ice Bucket challenge.

The movement rapidly garnered support from netizens across the world, with its Facebook page receiving more than 22,000 likes.

Rice Bucket Challenge Facebook Page

"It's local, desi [pertains to Indian culture] and a practical solution to issues in the vicinity. Instead of wasting water on ice bucket challenge, save water and feed the hungry," Krishna Raja, a participant of the Rice Bucket Challenge wrote on his Facebook wall.

"I thought the Ice bucket challenge was cool...but today when I read the Hindu about the rice bucket challenge...wow much cooler... Manju from Hyderabad has got this idea… good thinking and hats off," Sam Paul, who donated to the cause, posted on Facebook.

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On Monday, 2,000 students from Apoorva College, located in the South Indian state of Telangana, pledged to donate 2,200 kilograms of price to the poor.

Despite the India's economic progress, the country suffers from "alarming" levels of hunger. The prevalence of underweight children under five is among the highest in the world, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute.

In the 2013 Global Hunger Index, the South Asian nation ranked 63 out of 120 countries, lagging behind neighboring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

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