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Save kids from meals of death

In a startling revelation, the education department of North Delhi Municipal Corporation accepted that all 36 samples of mid-day meals collected between January and June failed to meet the prescribed nutritional standards, falling terribly behind expected levels of calorific value or protein value. Such sub-standard meals would not only contribute to deficient growth in the children who are consuming them on a daily basis, but also affect negatively their intellectual acumen to effectively process in all that is being taught at these schools, appalling though their levels are anyway.

Nutritional and educational adequacy are the fulcrum of a healthy society and giving our children these inadequate meals clearly paves the way for a weak and unhealthy labour force that the country will be saddled with in the years to come. Strict action must be taken to ensure that penalties are levied upon the defaulting schools, or the NGOs from where they source their mid-day meals in the first place.

Despite NDMC having engaged three NGOs to supply meals to over four lakh students in its 765 primary and 19 nursery schools, the substandard meals continue to be served at the various government and municipal schools of Delhi. It is obvious that the Bihar mid-day meal tragedy is not alone but one among many potential disasters waiting to happen if preventive measures are not taken. It is important that quality ingredients are chosen to cook these meals, particularly grains with ISI mark or other government-sanctioned certifications.

It is a travesty of the idea of mid-day meals, which in itself is a noble scheme with the intention of feeding hungry mouths and incentivising education at the same time, if proper ingredients are not used and children fall ill after consuming the meals cooked thereof. For all those politicians and government officers and public servants now pointing a finger at Bihar, it is advisable to first look within and ensure that such tragedies are avoided in future by subscribing to the established levels of nutritional and caloric requirements.   

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