Death at noon

The writing is on the wall if anyone, just anyone is willing to see. We know politicians and their cronies and administrators and their lackeys will look away and go an hunt for the most implausible and far fetched explanations that no one, but they, will buy. The likes of us may utter a few concerned exclamations, maybe allot it some space in their next social event and move on. What I am referring to is the horrific death of 23 innocent children whose only fault was to have eaten their midday meal in their school, the very meal meant to provide the very nourishment they need to grow healthy and strong. Instead it too away their lives.

When we began pwhy way back in 2000, I was involved in some networking with the Delhi administration and  one of the things discussed were the midday meal. At that them a proposal was mooted, but of course rejected, of having mothers form cooperatives and cook the midday meal of the school their children go to. Needless to state that the reason it was shot down was that it did not allow space for corruption of any sort. Instead the programme was used to gratify friends and acolytes enabling them to loot abashedly. In some states this approach was selected and needless to say the children get well cooked and nourishing hot food. In some states however the 'contract' was awarded to big businesses who dole out supplements of sorts to replace the midday meal of creches and schools. But 'supplements' are supplement to something, and these children have nothing to supplement. They often depend on this hot meal to survive and hopefully thrive.

Sadly this is not the case. We are so corrupt that we do not even spare children. The midday meal looks great on paper but this not the case in reality. In the national capital the food is sub standard and barely edible. Our children are fed with grain crawling with worms, flies and even lizards. In one state, the contract was given to a liquor baron. The bottom line is that the amount of money to be made runs into thousands of crores and everyone wants a share of the pie. Nobody gives a hoot about the beneficiaries: voiceless and hapless children.

The midday meal or a clone of it is part of the new Food Security Ordinance. I cannot begin to imagine how it will work better under this new cloak. A quick glance at the series of article on the subject paints a gloomy and disturbing picture.

When we ran a small residential unit for Manu and our boarding school aspirants, we had a tight budget, but the one thing we never compromised on was food. I cannot imagine what kind of being you have to be to want to enrich yourself on food meant for children and starving people.

I do not think that the new avatar will change things for children but know that it will enrich many on the way. And no one will fight for the children. They will continue to die.

How many deaths will it take to clean our Augean stables.