RAIPUR: Even before the Chhattisgarh School Education department has issued any circular over the proposed programme to include egg in the diet provided under the mid-day meal scheme (MDMS), conflicting voices are emerging in support and against the plan.
For the first time, the Chhattisgarh state under the Congress regime has decided to provide egg to the students under MDMS and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) schemes perceiving it as one of the best sources of protein for growing children. In January this year, the government talked about giving eggs in mid-day meals but also mentioned alternative vegetarian food items in the menu for those who do not consume eggs.
According to the government surveys, over 38 per cent of children in Chhattisgarh are malnourished (National Family Health Survey-4) and among the tribal kids, it is 44 per cent.
The followers of Kabir panthi in the state have protested against such plan. They have warned the state government to issue order to withdraw the plan or else they will block the Raipur-Bilaspur national highways on July 17. Some parents also opposed the government’s move asserting ‘vegetarians have lived and thrived for ages’.
In the midst of the protest, as many as 37 organisations from different parts of the state have come forward strongly advocating to include eggs five days in a week in government schools.
“The department has so far not issued any order on distribution of eggs to the schools under the MDMS”, said S Prakash, chief of the directorate of public instructions (DPI).
Debates are also raging on social media with many coming out in support of the government’s initiative asserting that the situation of child malnutrition in Chhattisgarh is extremely grave and so the protest by few against the provision of eggs in MDMS is unjustified since there will always be an alternative to it.
“Among poor families in Chhattisgarh, almost every second child is malnourished leading to an adverse effect on the learning capability of children. As many as 15 states are already providing eggs under MDMS and Anganwadi centres. Without hurting the sentiments of those parents who don’t want eggs, there should be the provision of milk, banana, or other option for their children. Child malnutrition in the state needs to be reduced by providing eggs”, said the statement issued jointly by the 37 organisations and further cited the government surveys like SRS 2014 that says “more than 83 per cent of people in Chhattisgarh consume eggs and so the proportion of children who eat non-vegetarian food would be higher among those going to government schools and Anganwadi centres”.