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UP, Bihar mid-day meal scheme not fully successful
Mid-day meal is world’s biggest food programme. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, with lowest literacy rate are two states which have highest number of malnourished children. These states also lag behind in providing mid-day meal to school children.
CHILDREN ARE the hope of any country. They are the ones who become an asset to create a launch pad for country’s growth, development, and prosperity. Somebody has rightly said that children are the wealth of nation. For a better future, the Central government initiated national programme of national support for primary education which is commonly known as mid-day meal scheme in 1995, to boost the universalisation of primary education.

Many states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra reaped the benefits of mid-day meal scheme by assiduously and strictly implementing the instructions outlined by government of India, which resulted high enrollment of children in primary schools.

However, two conspicuous defaulter states Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which have a high rate of illiteracy and malnourishment, lag behind in providing mid-day meal to school children. Every sixth malnourished child in India lives in U.P and every second adolescent girl is anemic. Uttar Pradesh has an abysmal performance in terms of following the instructions of mid-day meal. If we delve into the issue, we will find that there are number of districts which are oblivious to even the recommendations outlined in the scheme. And one of these districts is Shahjahanpur situated in western Uttar Pradesh. In three primary schools of village Chinour in Shahjahanpur the directions regarding mid-day meal scheme were not being followed. Though the meal menu is painted on the school walls, the meal was not served according to the menu. There was no storage house in any of the three schools whereas it is recommended that every school should have storage house. ’Atarikit Kakash’ (extra rooms) in schools have been turned into makeshift kitchens.

When Kamla Mishra the principal of Poorv Madhvik Vidyalya was asked about the trained staff which is recruited for the purpose of providing meals she was oblivious to the fact. She said, “We are not aware of this direction”.

According to the Central government, every school must have a trained staff. Supply of drinking water was not satisfactory as hand-pumps which are the source of reliable water supply for cooking purpose were battered and its vicinity was full of cow dung and feces, which can cause life-threatening diseases. The recent incidence in which 30 students were hospitalised after having lunch under the same scheme in Kanpur districts proves that the system and concerned authority is riddled with irresponsibility and loopholes.

 Mid-day meal which is the world’s largest food programme which envisages ameliorating and universalising primary education seems to be the liability of concerned authority. If things continue like this, the state which is the most populous in India and which can have a laudable contribution in human resources will always be a defaulter. The recent incidents in which 30 students were hosptialised is a stigma on UP government.

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