In a country that is often polarised in its opinions, it is tough to find a person who no one dislikes. Vikas Khanna is that person for India.
He is loved by every one and respected across the world for his values and skills. Vikas is more than a celebrity Michelin chef. He is an icon, a symbol of hope for millions, and here are few of the things that make him our favourite human.
1. He goes out of his way to help people in need.
Earlier in May, he donated 4 million meals to people struggling with hunger in India during the pandemic, something that should be done by everyone who is in a place to do so.
Dear Twitter Family.With your support n wishes today I reached serving 4 Million+ Dry Ration Meals. What started with a single tweet is now reached 75+ cities. Thanks to you and @NDRFHQ @satyaprad1 for helping us feed millions all over India. JaiHo.@IndiaGateFoods @DaawatFinest pic.twitter.com/BYoqFdOJH1— Vikas Khanna (@TheVikasKhanna) May 13, 2020
Thankful to @NDRFHQ @satyaprad1 for the Heroes of National Disaster Response Force appreciate the exemplary work & support done by dearest @TheVikasKhanna Kudos! you have stood rock solid for the needy during troubled times pic.twitter.com/1wRahXi7Ol— Asif Bhamla (@Asifbhamlaa) May 4, 2020
We just concluded a donation drive with @vikaskhannagroup to help over 250 families struggling for daily meals. We were able to accumulate 1250 Kg of Rice, 1000 Kg of Aata and 500 Kg of Pulses. These packets were distributed with the help of @NDRFHQ.#UmmeedHainHum pic.twitter.com/f9IKfzuapE— India Gate Foods (@IndiaGateFoods) May 2, 2020
He also launched the largest food drive in the world, Barkat, to help the marginalised communities in these tough times.
“BARKAT- World’s Largest Food Drive” benefitting People with Disabilities, Transgenders, Sex-Workers, AIDS Patients, Orphanages, Old-Age Homes and Leprosy Centres. . . .— Vikas Khanna (@TheVikasKhanna) June 10, 2020
2 Million+ Meals. #JaiMaAnnapurna
Thank you all for creating #FeedIndia #WorkInProgress pic.twitter.com/HAnwsqbros
In fact, his initiative Feed India recently completed the 50 million meals mark, a news Vikas shared on his Twitter account.
2. He doesn’t shy away from standing up for what’s right.
Earlier this year, trolls questioned his faith after one of the Bigg Boss contestants, Asim Riaz, fed him cake on the show. Reacting to those ridiculous comments, he had said:
I’m an Indian and that’s my faith… humanity and humility shine even when they are silent and small.
View this post on Instagram
Dear All. I was in BiggBoss house a few days back. We had spent hours and hours to create Michelin Style plates for the Winning team…….when everyone started eating, I was so happy to see them eat. They are living in isolation without any luxury for months, it was a satisfying moment for me to see them savour my food. Except for Asim, who served me a bite with his hands first. It was a genuine moment to thank me. When I posted this humble gesture on Insta Story, I got a lot of hate filled rude messages and questions. Even questioning my faith. I’m an Indian and that’s my faith. I have slept many days without food during my journey in America, I admire people with courage and big hearts even when they are at the receiving end. Humanity and Humility Shine even when they are silent and small. ❤️
3. He has a thirst for knowledge that cannot be quenched.
When a person has accomplished so much in life, you’d think that they would want to rest. That is not the case with Vikas, who is currently working on his third PhD. Announcing the same, he had recently tweeted:
Working on my 3rd PhD— Vikas Khanna (@TheVikasKhanna) June 28, 2020
Climate Change effects on Pollination, Natural Cycles, Soul Structures and Spices. pic.twitter.com/f19Kba25B1
His first doctoral thesis was on Indian festivals and cuisine, while the other was an honorary doctorate conferred to him by G.D Goenka University
4. He is the personification of humility.
5. He has taught us never to give up in life.
When Vikas applied for colleges to learn culinary arts, he was made fun of, for not knowing English. Saddened beyond measure, he told the interviewers:
Main itna smart nahi hun par mujhe pata hai aap mera mazaak uda rahe ho.
That purity of his heart got him admission, and look where he is now.
6. He gives it back to anyone who tries to disrespect him – but in a very soft, mannered way.
Recently, a BBC interviewer was talking to Vikas about his philanthropic work and suggested that the chef understands hunger because he comes from India.
Giving him the perfect slap back, Vikas said it was actually in New York that he learnt about it because he slept hungry on many nights in the city. India, he said, has a culture of feeding people at gurudwaras so that no one has an empty stomach.
Vikas Khanna, michelin star chef, gives it back to BBC news anchor.— Harpreet (@CestMoiz) June 27, 2020
Anchor: In India, you were not from a rich family. So your sense of hunger must have come from there.
Vikas: NO, I am from Amritsar, everyone gets fed there in the langars. My sense of hunger came from New York! pic.twitter.com/u06BJDSzvj
7. He has a heart of gold.
During the 1992 riots in Mumbai, a Muslim family gave shelter to Vikas. And in order to protect him, they said that he was their son, when people came on their door.
This affected him so much, he started keeping fast on one day during Ramzaan to pray for the well-being of the family.
He kept looking for them, too, and found the family in 2018.
Heartwarming evening.— Vikas Khanna (@TheVikasKhanna) June 12, 2018
All Heart. Tears. Pain. Pride. Courage. Humanity. Gratitude. This will be the most significant and important EID of my life. Thank you everyone to connect me with my souls. pic.twitter.com/apdposBSDe
8. He corrects people when they are wrong. Strongly, but politely.
Some time ago, US senator Lauren Witzke made a derogatory tweet towards the migrants living in the US, saying they ‘can’t assimilate into civil societies’.
Vikas, who is currently working in the US, listed out his achievements to her and it was as perfect a slapback as there ever was.
Being a recipient of highest awards from Eleanor Roosevelt Award to Benjamin Franklin Award to Game Changers to Michelin Star to James Beard Nom to Oscar Eligibility 2020 to “The Hottest Chef in NY” to being on the cover of @nytimes & many publications to cooking for 3 PRESIDENTS pic.twitter.com/8owu9SbibQ— Vikas Khanna (@TheVikasKhanna) October 10, 2020
9. Even after achieving so much in life, he is attached to his roots.
10. He makes us believe that everything is possible.
A person who was born with a disability, fought all odds, ranging from financial difficulties to language barriers, and became a symbol of strength, unity and success.
How often does that happen?