Mumbai: The Mid-Day Meal Scheme is basically a school meal programme designed by the Government of India to improve the nutritional status of school going children nationwide.
Mid-Day meal scheme was implemented on August 15, 1995 as a part of the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education. In 2001, once again the Supreme Court passed an order stating, “A basic entitlement of every child in every Government and Government assisted Primary Schools with a prepared Mid-day Meal with a minimum content of 300 calories and 8–12 grams of protein each day of school for a minimum of 200 days.”
The objectives of this scheme are:
1. To Improve the efficacy of primary education by improving the nutritional status of the children.
2. Attract children from all class of societies, especially girls from Dalits and Adivasi tribes to school, thereby increasing attendance, reducing dropout rates. Also a mode of promoting women empowerment through literacy.
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3. To promote a feeling of oneness and secularism amongst various religions and cultures in the nation. This is because in our county, still majority of the population is unable to get at least one complete square meal of the day.
This phenomenal initiative taken by the Government of Karnataka, to make NGOs the implementing arm of the Government became the major reasons behind its success in reaching the programme’s goals. Thereafter, the results that showed-up, the achievements that were achieved from these private-public partnerships even influenced the Central Government. Now, Government is successfully leveraging the skills and resources of the private sector for the greater good.
As per the stats, today, India’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme is one of the largest school lunch programme in the world. During the year 2013-14, around 104 million children were covered in about 1.15 million schools.
Central government’s assistance under the scheme includes free supply of food grains. About the quantity, 100g per child per school per-day is the quantity decided for Mid-day meal. Subsidy over transportation of food grains is decided upto maximum of Rs.50 per quintal.
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The scheme has been kept revising and upgrading from time to time such as new reformations and changes and advancements in the scheme. Besides promoting nutrition and primary education, Mid-Day Meals (MDMs) has a great socialization value as well. At certain level of erosion of caste prejudices and class inequality is expected. Thus as the children sit together and share a common meal, the interaction will increase and understanding will develop.
If sources are to be believed, one of the studies revealed that in Rajasthan, Dalit children were asked to drink in their cupped hands while the other children used the common glasses. This is one such awful instance of caste discrimination in the classroom which defeats the socialization role of mid-day meals.
Any program or initiatives when taken has both positive and negative consequences. In the case of a government program, the philosophy behind it is to bring inclusiveness in the society. The government may not be able to undertake and serve the entire population but holds a huge responsibility on a broader scale to accommodate the downtrodden population. This is how government programs function to bring equity and equality in the society by enforcing laws and policies for the overall development of the community.