The states and Union Territories have been asked to resume Mid Day Meal by the centre. (GS Paper-II, Polity, Constitution and Governance) Source: The Hindustan Times


Why in news?

• The centre has asked all the union territories and States to resume mid-day meals for the children attending the school under the PM POSHAN scheme.
• During the pandemic schools were shut, disrupting the nutritional requirement of the children. To compensate the same state and UT’s are advised to provide food security allowances to the eligible students.
Under PM POSHAN (Pradhanmantri poshan Shakti Nirman) scheme,
•   Students in primary classes (1-5)   would be provided with 100 gram grains per working day.
• Students in upper primary classes(6-8) would be provided with 150 grams of food grain per working day.
• The scheme also covers, pre primary students supplementary nutrition for children in aspirational districts and those with high prevalence of anaemia.

What is Mid day Meal scheme?

• Mid day meal was launched in the year 1995 to provide better nutrition and one meal to all children in government and aided schools.
• It is the largest School meal programme in the world.
• It provides one cooked meal to the students upto class 8th in the school.

Objective

• The scheme is designed to address the multifaceted problems of
-Hunger and malnutrition
-increase the enrolment and attendance in the school
– improve socialization among castes -provide employment at the grass root level especially to the womens.

Mid Day Meal Rules 2015

• Children should be provided with the cooked meals only in school under the scheme.
• If due to unavailability of food grains or due to any other reason ,if food is not provided in schools the state government shall pay food security allowances by 15th of the succeeding month.
• The School Management Committee shall monitor the implementation of the scheme.

Recent Development

Recently the existing mid day meal scheme has been renamed as PM POSHAN.

Key features

• It provides for the Supplementary nutrition to the aspirational district’s children and those with high prevalence of anaemia.
• State government is free to decide the diet of the children in school provided the  Centre will not bear the additional cost on the menu.
• The provision for the  nutri garden in the school so that children could experience nature and garden.
• The local women self help group and the farmers producer organisation would be encouraged.
• The scheme also provides for the inspection and the social audit by the students of the colleges and Universities.

Significance

A case study on the Integrational  Benefits of the Midday Meal Scheme reported;

• Children covered under the scheme show a long-lasting impact with better growth.
• Girls provided with the meal in school have children with better height to age ratio.
• Case of stunting was lower in the area covered under mid day meal in 2015.

Issues

• Fraudulent practices have been prevalent resulting in lower quality food.
• Instances of caste bias and discrimination are reported that children are made to sit as per their cast.
• Nutritional requirement of the children  has been hampered due to covid-19.
• Despite being the world’s largest School meal program it fails to address child hunger.

Way forward

• Community monitoring and social audit can help reduce the prevalent corrupt practices.
• Mid day meal data should be reported regularly to the centre by the state to curtail irregularities.
• There needs to be a timely transfer of food grains and funds to the state.
• Example of Bettiah district of Bihar can be  replicated where mothers were made the quality monitors of the food cook under the scheme.

BY : Vivek Raj

Download Plutus ias daily current affairs 23 November 2021