Hungry Child, a blot on Indian Society, let’s work together…

…& FEED A CHILD!

When I saw blogadda’s invitation for bloggers to contribute a blog post which will enable to feed a hungry child, viz. Blog to feed the child, I took it upon this as my moral responsibility. What could be better than this award if I am able to feed a hungry child in my role as a blogger? Under Corporate Social Responsibility, we are always contributing with our might to give it back to the society but this is a unique opportunity.

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So my thought process takes me back to 16-17 years when my daughter was a toddler and I was forever running after her to make her eat. It was a mammoth task to feed her milk, breakfast, lunch and dinner and the day she would eat nicely, it seemed to me like a mission accomplished. The day she did not eat for whatever reason, I would remain depressed till the time she had ate. As a mother I was ready before time with her meals, so that she can have her meals in time. One day when she created lot of fuss over eating, I realised, that probably my daughter doesn’t know what hunger is all about. What it is like being hungry? What happens when you don’t get food on time? Does she know the importance of food? Do we know how many children in our country sleep without food? How many children suffer class room hunger? All these questions crossed my mind in a jiffy.

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I decided to keep her hungry one full day, only on water. By the night she had known that how important it is to have food. One must respect food. Today she is a young girl with fine habits of respecting and sharing food, eating well and in time. Not only this, she is also sensitive to the fact that we should not waste food, as it may feed another hungry child.

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It is quite unfortunate that even after 67 years of independence; India has not achieved independence in the field of food and education. Millions of children don’t have access to education, food, lighting, clothing, shelter…what not whereas some children have access to these things in abundance. They are living in opulence, without even giving a thought on what these under-privileged children go through when they have to give up on these basic necessities in life? This dis-balance needs to be addressed and here every responsible citizen has a role to play. We can’t shrug off our shoulders and say, ‘What can I do? Government should do something”. Of course, Government has a big role to play and it is playing its role well by providing mid-day meals in schools to children in Government and Government aided schools. According to me mid-day meals is wonderful initiative which has drawn children to schools in huge numbers. But yes, there are flaws in its administration like hygiene, availability of manpower, subsidies, Government machinery, and outreach of benefits but still it is working well.

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Now with Mrs. Smriti Irani at the helm as HRD Minister who as a woman is quite sensitive to such issues and trying her best to ensure that no child remains at home in want of food. A hungry stomach can’t do anything, forget studying. How can one child concentrate in studies if he/ she is hungry? Mid Day Meal in schools has had a long history in India. In 1925, a Mid Day Meal Programme was introduced for disadvantaged children in Madras Municipal Corporation. By the mid 1980s three States viz. Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the UT of Pondicherry had universalized a cooked Mid Day Meal Programme with their own resources for children studying at the primary stage. By 1990-91 the number of States implementing the mid day meal programme with their own resources on a universal or a large scale had increased to twelve states.

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Food norms have been revised in 2009 to ensure balanced and nutritious diet to children of upper primary group by increasing the quantity of pulses from 25 to 30 grams, vegetables from 65 to 75 grams and by decreasing the quantity of oil and fat from 10 grams to 7.5 grams. Cooking cost (excluding the labour and administrative charges) has been revised from Rs.1.68 to to Rs. 2.50 for primary and from Rs. 2.20 to Rs. 3.75 for upper primary children from 1.12.2009 to facilitate serving meal to eligible children in prescribed quantity and of good quality .The cooking cost for primary is Rs. 2.69 per child per day and Rs. 4.03 for upper primary children from 1.4.2010.The cooking cost will be revised prior approval of competent authority by 7.5% every financial year from 1.4.2011. This scheme can do wonders to the lives of millions of children in the country.

Today organisations like Akshaya Patra, which is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) mid-day meal programme serving wholesome food to over 1.4 million children from 10,661 schools across 10 states in India are doing commendable job. The need is for many more Akshay Patras who are there to do this selfless service to children, who are suffering from class room hunger. The need is to feed them with nutritious and hygienic food, and then only every Indian will feel truly liberated. Education & food to some, deprivation to many is the norm, which needs to be addressed and we as responsible and privileged citizens of the country should contribute with our might for things to change. We should associate ourselves with self-help groups, NGOs and other welfare organisations and generously contribute to the cause. We can also devote our free week days in helping them cooking and serving meals to these children; imagine how satisfying it would be.

Class-room hunger has paralysed Indian society, it has kept parents away from sending their children to school, as they want their children to work and earn their meals. How unfortunate the scenario is? Imagine if every child eats well and studies well, it will open host of employment opportunities for him and India will be country of every ‘true’ Indian’s dream.

Great to know that blogadda has initiated the thought process and indeed it has shaken us from inside. Time for my daughter’s dinner…I have to rush. But not without the thought for those millions of children who may be sleeping without food…

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

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