Explained: Why is the opposition boiling over Mamta government's plan to serve chicken in schools? - Newztezz - Latest News Today, Breaking News, Top News Headlines, Latest Sports News


Friday, January 6, 2023

Explained: Why is the opposition boiling over Mamta government's plan to serve chicken in schools?

At a time when many states, especially the BJP-ruled ones, do not even provide eggs to school children under the Mid-Day Meal (MDM), the West Bengal government has announced to serve chicken under the scheme.

At a time when many states, especially the BJP-ruled ones, do not even provide eggs to school children under the Mid-Day Meal (MDM), the West Bengal government has announced to serve chicken under the scheme. West Bengal has announced a revised mid-day meal menu for government schools, in which chicken and seasonal fruits will be given weekly from January to April. However, the opposition is not liking the timing of the revised menu, saying that its timing coincides with the panchayat elections in the state.

A tough fight is expected between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP during the Panchayat elections to be held in April-May. According to the January 3 notification issued by the school education department, an additional Rs 372 crore will be allocated to provide chicken and fruits. There will be additions to the usual menu of chicken and fruit, rice, potatoes, pulses, vegetables, soybeans and eggs.

An additional Rs 20 per week for 16 weeks will be spent per child included in the mid-day meal scheme. This scheme is also called PM Poshan Yojana. This notification will benefit more than 1.16 crore students in state-run and aided schools.

Mamta's decision shocking!

The introduction of chicken in West Bengal comes as a surprise as the decision to introduce eggs in the mid-day meal in other states has faced opposition from some religious groups. Many of these states like Madhya Pradesh bowed down before this resistance. At present, 13 states and three union territories serve eggs as "additional food items" in the mid-day meal. Its frequency ranges from five days a week to once a month. States and Center share the cost of PM Poshan in the ratio of 60:40.

What is the plan, why there is political ruckus

This scheme was started in 1995. In 2021, it was renamed as PM Poshan Shakti Nirman or PM Poshan. The mid-day meal scheme covers 11.80 crore children from classes 1 to 8 in the country.

In October last year, the Centre's Department of School Education and Literacy (PM Nutrition Division) announced a 9.6 per cent increase in the cost of mid-day meals for students up to class VIII.

As far as the cost is concerned, under the scheme, it is Rs 4.97 to Rs 5.45 (48 paise) per student at the primary level and Rs 7.45 to Rs 8.17 (72 paise) per student at the upper primary level. This means that out of Rs 8.17 allocated for students in the upper primary class, the Center will pay Rs 4.90 and the state Rs 3.27. Out of the allocated amount of Rs 5.45 for primary students, the Center will bear Rs 3.27 and the states Rs 2.18.

The budget estimate of mid-day meal for 2021-22 was Rs 11,500 crore, which was reduced in the revised estimate. And for the current year (2022-23), it has been pegged at Rs 10,233.75 crore.

India's consumer food price inflation to increase from 0.68 per cent to 8.38 per cent by April 2022 as compared to September 2021. According to the Centre's data, the scheme feeds 118 million students across the country.

Why is this so important?

Food habits vary across countries and when it comes to choices related to religion, the matter becomes sensitive and often leads to political debate.

In Karnataka, the BJP government had faced opposition from various religious communities, including influential Lingayats and Jains, over its proposal to include eggs in the mid-day meal

After much uproar, the Karnataka government announced last year that eggs, bananas or chickpeas would be included in the mid-day meal as part of supplementary nutrition. The announcement rejected the demand by religious leaders to remove eggs from the mid-day meal. The move to introduce eggs by the BJP-led Karnataka government was surprising, especially when halal meat is banned in the state.

However, Karnataka is not the only state that has faced protests over eggs in the mid-day meal. In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan rolled back the decision taken by the Kamal Nath government in November 2020 to serve eggs in anganwadi meals.

In October 2019, the Kamal Nath government decided to serve eggs in the mid-day meal for children in Anganwadis. After the Kamal Nath government was toppled by the BJP, Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan announced that his government would provide cow's milk instead of eggs to severely malnourished children. Chouhan had in 2015 refused to comply with the UPA government's directive to include eggs as part of the mid-day meal school programme.

In Chhattisgarh, eggs were removed from the MDM in 2015 by the Raman Singh government, but were implemented by Congress chief minister Bhupesh Baghel in January 2019. Later, the government opted for home delivery of eggs.

13 states offer eggs…

Under the Right to Food campaign, 13 states across the country serve eggs as part of a meal. In this case, the performance of states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal is better. These states provide eggs/bananas to children twice a week.

Eggs are served every day in Tamil Nadu, while in Andhra Pradesh it is served five days a week. Telangana lays eggs thrice a week, while Jharkhand, Odisha and Tripura do so twice. Eggs are laid once a week in Bihar, Kerala, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Assam. In Sikkim, eggs are available for lunch only once a month. Those students who do not eat eggs are given fruits instead.

Of the 19 states ruled by the BJP or its allies, only five serve eggs to children. Some non-BJP states (Punjab and Delhi) also do not serve eggs in the mid-day meal.

mid day meal menu

By the way, no one menu is fixed for everyone. The authorities need to ensure that the nutritional component of a meal consisting of rice, pulses, vegetables, oil and fat provides at least 450 calories and 12 grams of protein to children in primary classes. For upper primary children, the requirement is 700 calories and 20 grams of protein.

History of mid-day meal in India

Mid-day meals have a long history in schools in India. In 1925, the Madras Municipal Corporation started a mid-day meal program for underprivileged children. By the mid-1980s, three states—Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu—and the Union Territory of Pondicherry adopted mid-day meal programs with their own resources for children studying at the primary level. By 1990-91, the number of states implementing the mid-day meal program increased to twelve.

The National Program of Nutritional Support to Elementary Education (NP-NSPE) was launched on 15th August 1995 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to increase the enrollment, retention and attendance of children in schools as well as to improve the nutritional status of children. ) started.

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