Indian government’s flagship free school meal scheme: Worthy in its aspirations, but plagued by a string of scandals
Wednesday 17 July 2013
The midday meals scheme is one of the Indian government’s flagship anti-poverty programmes, designed to provide at least one nutritious meal a day for the children of the nation’s poorest families. The Indian government says it reaches about 120 million children across the country.
But the scheme has faced criticism over the quality of the food provided and standards of hygiene. There have also been allegations of corruption, with food intended for children disappearing and then being sold on the black market.
Oxfam’s programmes and advocacy director Shaik Anwar said Bihar was not the only state that had shown little concern for improving the free school meal scheme, despite many previous warnings from civil society organisations and right-to-food commissioners.
In April this year a 13-year-old girl died in Aswara, near Ahmedabad in the north west, and 10 others were taken ill after eating the midday meal at a government school. A dirty water tank was believed to be the cause of the contamination.
A year earlier 132 children were admitted to hospital after eating the midday meal at a school in Parvati near Pune in western India. Idlis (savoury cakes) prepared in unhygienic conditions were blamed. A couple of months earlier 50 children at a school in Mangalore in the south-west were taken to hospital after eating the midday meal. And 72 children were taken ill after eating a meal at a school in Surat in the north-west in 2010.
The India Today website cited other examples of problems with the quality of the meals. It reported that dead lizards, frogs, insects and a rat had all been found in food provided under the midday meal scheme.
The scheme was first introduced in southern India, where it was seen as an incentive for poor parents to send their children to school. Since then the programme has been replicated across the country. It is part of an effort to address concerns about malnutrition, from which the government says nearly half of all Indian children suffer.
- 2 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show
£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...
£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...