It is horrifying to learn that as many as 12 Indian states have banished egg from midday meal as a result of government’s reservation against non-vegetarian items. It is a brutal act as surveys reveal that most of the students as well as their parents are eager for its inclusion. This is quite natural as some estimates show that 3 out of 4 Indians are non-vegetarian. Word has it that egg banishment has been done to satisfy upper caste vegetarian lobbies.
Moreover, in some schools and anganwadis, Dalit students are reportedly made to sit separately from upper caste students. They are allegedly given insufficient food and served last. Such things are criminal offence and totally against our Constitution.
A nutritious and hearty midday meal can indeed check dropout rate as well as malnutrition among our children. It is highly unfortunate, to say the least, of allowing prejudices to rob non-vegetarian children of a nutritious food item of their choice in a secular country like ours.
Given that we have 48.2 million hungry, malnourished children with stunted growth in our country, this showcases our myopic attitude towards our own children. Moreover, according to the 2018 Global Hunger report, India, Djibouti and South Sudan are the countries where child wasting are most prevalent. Children under the age of five who become victims of acute undernutrition with low weight for their height, are tagged in the group of child wasting.
Eggs are highly nutritious. Further, sweets can be adulterated but a boiled egg cannot. Huge amount of eggs go bad every year in India due to lack of cold storage. Therefore, such a tragic decision of banishing eggs from anganwadis and schools will make more eggs going bad along with the health of our future citizens.
Midday meal scheme should have been used to give more amount of nutritious food to the students of anganwadis and schools to address the problem of malnutrition among children.
Government should see to it that no prejudice can deprive young ones from getting safe and nutritious food items. Students should also enjoy the meal together and learn the ideals of equality and fraternity. It will be suicidal if we fail our children for the sake of prejudices.
Sujit De, Kolkata