Just weeks after a tainted midday meal in a school in Bihar, India, killed at least 23 innocent children (most of them were less than 10 years old), a similar incident about more children falling ill due to a midday meal served in another school in the same state has sent shockwaves through the nation.
The incident occurred at India’s Navtolia Middle School, which is located in the district of Madhubani, approximately 100 miles away from the district of Saran where the previous incident occurred.
Reports reveal that at least 50 schoolchildren started vomiting and complaining of severe stomachaches immediately after having the midday meal served at the school. The children, some of whom even fainted, were rushed to a local health center and are said to have survived the incident.
With the country reeling in under the aftershocks of so many incidents revolving around the so called midday scheme that allows underprivileged school going children to enjoy at least one complete meal a day, the time has come to unearth another area of the Indian government that has been populated with several scandals that eventually make sure that whatever food these adolescents get is either tainted or not up to the mark.
Government’s Flagship Anti-Poverty Program
The midday meal scheme was first started in South India in an attempt to woo poor parents to send their kids to school. The program which allowed for these children to get one nutritional meal a day (at lunch) soon gained momentum, and was eventually declared as a national flagship program aimed at educating undernourished children, and reducing ailments caused by malnutrition in the process.
Touted to reach over 120 million children throughout the country, the midday scheme meal has sadly, failed to reach expectations, with the quality of the food provided to these children being extremely low. Cases of finding insects, rats, frogs and lizards in these meals are aplenty. There have also been numerous reports of the food offered in the midday meal scheme being sold in the black market, only to be substituted with substandard rations. And all these complaints were conveniently ignored by the government, until now!
Bihar continues to be one of the states that shows little or no concern about the deteriorating quality of the midday meals. Neither does it show any signs of even trying to improve the same, despite being warned by the right-to-food commissioners and civil society organizations several times.
But that’s not all! The midday meal scandal seems to be prevalent in developed cities like Pune and Mangalore as well. A couple of months back, over 132 school children were hospitalized after consuming a midday meal in a school in Pune. And at least 50 children had to be hospitalized after eating a contaminated midday meal in a school in Mangalore.
The list goes on and on and on! With the death of 20 innocent lives in Bihar, the government has been finally pushed into a corner by the public which has demanded immediate action. Only time will tell as to what exactly the government intends to do to come clean of the accusations that has been hurled at it.