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Egg, banana, chikki in midday meals to address ‘malnutrition’

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    29th Jul, 2022

Context

The state government of Karnataka has now agreed to provide boiled eggs, bananas, or groundnut chikki for 46 days of the academic year to Children from Classes 1 to 8.

Background

  • The state government implemented the pilot program in aspirational districts (most backward) through Karnataka School Education and Literacy Department and district administration.
  • Under the pilot programme,the government is already providing these items to students of Kalyana Karnataka districts like Bidar, Ballari, Yadgir, Koppal, Kalaburagi, Raichur, and Vijayapura along with the midday meals for students in Classes 1 to 8.

Why it was needed?

  • Successive surveys in the state have been pointing out the high prevalence of malnutrition, anemia, and low immunity among children in many parts of the state.
  • TheNational Family Health Survey-V found that 35% of children under five were stunted, and around 20% were wasted.

About Mid-Day Meal Scheme:

  • MDMS is amongst the largest initiatives in the world to enhance the nutrition levels of school-going children through hot cooked meals.
  • It is thelargest school feeding programme of its kind in the world, covering students enrolled in government schools from Classes 1 to 8.
  • The goal is to enhance the nutritional levels of the children and also their enrolment in the formal education system.
  • Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a party, India has committed to yielding “adequate nutritious food” for children.

Is mid-day meal under NFSA?

  • Yes, the Midday Meal Scheme is covered by the National Food Security Act, 2013. NFSA covers upto 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and priority households.
  • NFSA 2013:It is not just a scheme, but a legal entitlement of all school-going children in primary and upper primary classes, through the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.
  • The program supplies free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes of:
    • Government schools,
    • Government-aided schools,
    • Local body Education Centres,
    • Education Guarantee Scheme, and alternate innovative education centers,
    • Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under SarvaShikshaAbhiyan,
    • National Child Labour Project schools are run by the Ministry of labour.

How did the Mid-Day-Meal Scheme come into existence?

  • The programme wasfirst introduced in 1925 for disadvantaged children in Madras Municipal Corporation.
  • Post-Independence, Tamil Nadu was the first state to introduce the MDM scheme in the 1960s.
  • The Central scheme to provide meals to school children began in 1995, however, most states just limited themselves to providing dry rations.
  • The union government launched it as a centrally sponsored scheme on a pilot basis in 1995 for children in Classes 1 to 5.
  • By October 2007, MDMS had been scaled up to Class 8.

Supreme Court Order: The Game Changer(People’s Union of Civil Liberties vs Union of India and Others (2001).

  • A Supreme Court order of 2001 provided for all states to introduce cooked meals.
  • The Supreme Court order specified the states to provide “at least 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein each day of school for a minimum of 200 days in a year”.

Current Status: 

  • The current version of the programme, was renamed PM Poshan Shakti Nirman or PM Poshan in 2021.
  • The scale of Coverage:The scheme covers 11.80 crore children across Classes 1 to 8 (age group 6 to 14).
  • Coverage of expenditure: Under the rules, the allocation of 4.97 per child per day (primary classes) and Rs.7.45 (upper primary)are shared in a 60:40 ratio with states and UTs with a legislature, and 90:10 with the North-eastern states, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, while the Centre bears 100% of the costs in UTs without legislature.

The table below shows therequired dietary norms as stated by the Central Mid-Day Meal Scheme:

What are the associated issues and challenges?

  • Corrupt Practices: There have been instances of plain chapattis being served with salt, mixing of water in milk, food poisoning, etc.
  • Caste Bias and Discrimination:Food is central to the caste system, so in many schools, children are made to sit separately according to their caste status.
  • Menace of Malnutrition: According to theNational Family Health Survey-5, several states across the country have reversed course and recorded worsening levels of child malnutrition.
    • India is home to about 30% of the world’s stunted children and nearly 50% of severely wasted children under the age of five.
  • Global Nutrition Report-2021:According to the recently released Global Nutrition Report (GNR, 2021), India has made no progress on anaemia and childhood wasting.
    • Over half of Indian women in the age group 15-49 years are anaemic.
  • Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021:India has slipped to the 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th.
  • No Continuity:The schools do not function during holidays and vacations which deprives children of their one daily meal.
  • Dietary Choices: Some states, such as Arunachal Pradesh, find it costly. In Karnataka, proposals to add eggs have been fiercely resisted in the past by Lingayat and Jain seers.

Proposed changes in the scheme

  • The scheme is proposed to be extended to students studying in pre-primary or Balvatikas in Government and Government-aided primary schools in addition to all the 11.80 crore children from elementary classes.
  • The concept of TithiBhojan will be encouraged extensively.
  • TithiBhojan is a community participation programme in which people provide special food to children on special occasions/festivals.
  • School Nutrition Gardens in schools to give children first-hand experience with nature and gardening. The harvest of these gardens is used in the scheme providing additional micro nutrients. School Nutrition Gardens have already been developed in more than 3 lakh schools
  • Social Audit of the scheme is made mandatory in all the districts.
  • Special provision is made for providing supplementary nutrition items to children in aspirational districts and districts with a high prevalence of Anemia.
  • Cooking competitions will be encouraged at all levels right from the village level to the national level to promote ethnic cuisine and innovative menus based on locally available ingredients and vegetables.
  • Vocal for Local for Atmanirbhar Bharat: Involvement of Farmers Producer Organizations (FPO) and Women Self Help Groups in the implementation of the scheme will be encouraged. Use of locally grown traditional food items for a fillip to local economic growth will be encouraged.
  • Field visits for progress monitoring and inspections will be facilitated for students of eminent Universities / Institutions and also trainee teachers of Regional Institutes of Educations (RIE) and District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET).

Best Practices being followed in the State of Karnataka for effective implementation of the scheme:

  • The state has introduced “KsheeraBhagyaYojana” by providing 150 ml. of Hot milk to students from 1stto 10thstandards, 5 days a week.
  • Only women are appointed as cooks with preference given to widows, single mothers, and destitute women.
  • Rain water harvesting for improving ground water management.
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