Fit for human consumption

Following the terrible tragedy that killed 23 children in Bihar, our city went into reviewing mode with officials taking stock of the situation of midday meals in the capital city. An article published this morning in a leading newspaper details the issue. I was aghast to read that the said officials gave themselves a pat in the back saying that over the past two years no sample had been declared unfit for human consumption. What is this a joke! They were quick to add that 50% of samples collected failed the nutrition test. I am lost. The midday meal is meant to provide nutrition to children. I agree that nutrition levels need to be tested but how does the fit for consumption but come in. Why should meals meant for children be tested for their fitness for human consumption. This in nothing short of mind boggling.

Delhi's record is abysmal. 80% of the food cooked is substandard. It is time something was done. I shudder to think how all the schemes heralded with such fanfare will perform when implemented. The answer is quite evident. Either there is a lack of will and only political drama or the whole system is so corrupt and poorly conceived that no programme can ever be well implemented. Why should be bother many would think? Well first and foremost it is our money. But that is not all. Under nourishment is something we have to look at seriously. If children are malnourished then their entire development is compromised.

As midday meals seem to be the flavour of the day following the recent death of 23 children, be are hearing a slew of horror stories from insects and lizards, to scorpions, of cooking on sceptic tanks next to stinking loos. And as the story enfolds we get more and more disturbing news about the way the midday meal programme is being implemented. And believe it or not Bihar even returned 500 crores to the centre, money meant to build kitchens and buy utensils for the midday meal scheme. The bottom line is that no one cares for children. And schemes made for children are the easiest to be hijacked.

The midday meal scheme is probably the best solution for dealing with malnutrition in children as it covers children from 0 to 14. Pregnant and lactating mothers are also meant to be covered so the critical nine months and 1000 days of good nutrition and constant monitoring should ensure no under nourished child in India. It is something we all should be proud as it is the largest school feeding programme. But sadly that is not the case. We should be given the Nobel for botching every programme meant for the poor and diverting it to bottomless pockets. How can anyone have gall to divert funds meant for the hungry and the destitute. But we have. Learn from us! You don't believe me? Here is another proof.

A programme launched 2 days ago in this very cit, the capital of India, and meant to arrest anaemia in children by giving them iron and folic acid landed 20 of them in hospital. No wonder parents are scared!

Wonder how the new Food bill will fare. Midday meals are an intrinsic part of it!!!!

Time we woke up!