Published: 28th November 2020
In nutrition, should some kids be less equal? The debate is on
When you come to the poor, nutritious food should start from expecting mothers and growing children up to age 10 and above and need not necessarily be linked to schooling
The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want,
drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not
-Mark Twain, American writer, entrepreneur, publisher and lecturer
The Roman poet Juvenal coined a famous phrase when he wrote Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano — You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body — around the end of first century CE.
The subject also comes in the Bible where it says “Grow in age and wisdom.” It does not say anything about health and strength. Perhaps there was no concern for food and nutrition, though history is full of references to famines and pestilences down the ages.
The modern age is marked by concern for nutrition as reflected in midday meals in lower classes — as in Karnataka. The subject came into focus through a high court judgment in Karnataka. But first, the facts as reported in the media:
The Karnataka government has admitted that it did not supply midday meals or food-grains between June 1 and October 31, 2020, to eligible students studying in government and aided schools who are covered under the midday meal scheme of the National Food Security Act, 2013, the High Court of Karnataka observed on November 10, 2020. A Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar made the observations during the hearing of the petitions related to issues cropped up owing to COVID-19 restrictions.
While observing that non-supply of midday meals or food-grains or providing food security allowance to students as per the NFS Act amounts to a denial of a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21, the Bench directed the government to elaborate about in what manner and within what period the eligible students covered under the scheme would be compensated. The State Government is bound to implement the NFS Act and the Midday Meal Rules, 2015 despite the closure of schools, the Bench observed.
What happens to children who do not go to school for whatever reason and also to children before they start going to school? When you come to the poor, nutritious food should start from expecting mothers and growing children up to age 10 and above and need not necessarily be linked to schooling. There could be village-level public kitchens to dish out nourishing food to pregnant mothers and non-school-going children – independent of the present anganwadis under the NFS Act.