Mid Day Meal 

The Secretary, Uttar Pradesh Voluntary Action Network (UPVAN) Sri Ashok Singh welcomed the participants and thanked them for their curiosity for the release of the report on a vibrant issue. First of all he expressed his gratitude for the active contribution of the heads and workers of the organizations working of the grassroots level in attaining the objectivity of the study. Thereafter, he briefly touched upon the main finding of the study. He narrated that it has emerged from this study that the scheme has not been successfully implemented. The enrolment of students in primary schools did increase but they are hardly staying in their classes. There has not been a visible improvement in the health of the students by taking the so-called nutritious food. It is because of the non-availability of foodgrains of the desired quality. Instead, day in and day out the news of the falling ill of the students after taking mid-day-meal in schools. It is a happy augury that the Uttar Pradesh government in the Department of Primary Education, taking the media news in to cognizance, has constituted the Task Force for the enquiry. However, no permanent solution is forthcoming. Of and on such news are repeated. It appeared that the Department of Education is not able to identify its root cause. The present study has brought to light that the root cause is the supply of low quality of foodgrains. The provision of sample checks at three points has been quite ineffective due lack of inter-departmental coordination and corruption. If village Pradhans are blamed, they feel agitated and come out for roadside demonstrations. The teachers also avoid participating in this noble cause.

The secretary expressing his concern for such a situation and appealed the government to immediately identify the grassroots realities and find out the solution, so that the children may not be deprived of their right to food and could progressively advance on the path of becoming an enlightened citizen through their devoted learning. Thereafter, Mr. Ashok Singh invited the village Pradhans for enkindling the lamp so that the path of the schooling of the growing children could be broadened in that light. The report released by Sri P. C. Pandey, Chief Executive Officer of VANI, New Delhi. Speaking on this occasion.

Sri Pandey thanked UPVAN and its member organizations and particularly Sri J. N. Singh, Consultant UPVAN for conducting a study on such an important issue of social importance. Tracing the historical background of Mid-Day-Meal scheme he told that it was first of all initiated as a relief measure in the disaster affected areas by Madras Municipal Corporation in the year 1925 so that the children of such areas may not be deprived of education due to their empty bellies. He further expressed that it is the need of the day that the objective assessment of Social and educational schemes are made. It is to be particularly emphasized that how the funds allocated are utilized on such schemes and programms? Whether the target group is being benefited through them? It is essentially needed to adjudge As to what extent the outlay of Rs. 2800 corers have been utilized for the desired objectives. Sri Pandey placed some of the suggestions for the successful implementation of this scheme.  

  • In order to provide right directives to this scheme there must be citizen monitoring, so that people could visualize its benefits.
  • The Planning Commission and MORD and MOPR must seek the cooperation of Panchayati Raj institutions and CSOs.
    The people should be apprised through their capacity building, publishing the success stories and case studies.
  • In order to ensure the quality of food the community Kitchen under cluster development approach should be promoted.
  • The evaluation/ monitoring of the scheme should be based on outcome and not on outlay.
  • It is the prime duty of CSOs. to come forward and suggest the government through such evaluation studies for changing the image and fate of such schemes/programmes.

Presentation of the Report

  Sri J. N. Singh, Consultant, UPVAN, while presenting the report on power point, told the audience that the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) was launched as a centrally sponsored scheme on 15th August 1995, initially in 2408 blocks of the country. Today NP-NSPE is the largest feeding programme reaching on to about 12 corer children in over 9.50 Lakh schools across the country. Barring few, all states were providing 3 Kgs of wheat/rice per child per month. It was only after the directives of Hon. Supreme Court that cooked Mid-Day-Meal programme had to be undertaken by the state governments after November 2001. In the state of Uttar Pradesh also this scheme was initiated since 15th August 1995 in a phased manner. In the first phase (1995-96) 248 blocks of 38 districts were covered, while during the second phase (1996-97) total numbers of blocks were covered. During the year 2005-06 the scheme was in operation in 809 blocks of 70 districts, extending benefits to 1.86 corer children of 94000 primary schools. This scheme aims at enhancing enrolment and stay of children in schools by providing nutritional food so that the children could gain health and take keen interest in education. Indirectly it also envisages the promotion of social values and equality through the common sharing of food by children.

Monitoring Arrangements of the Scheme in UP:

  • The management of the scheme at the center, state, district, block and village levels has been clearly stated in the guidelines issued by the government of Uttar Pradesh to oversee the implementation of the programme. According to it a State Steering Committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary, Education. This body is represented by the officers of the Panchayat Raj, Planning, Finance, Urban development, Food and Civil Supplies and Primary Education Departments.
  •  The state government has designated the District collector as a Nodal Officer to ensure the effective implementation of the scheme. He heads the District Steering Committee, represented by district level officers of Education, Panchayat Raj and Food and Civil Supplies Departments.
  • At the village level a committee has to be constituted under the chairmanship of gram pradhan. Two male and two female guardians are also designated as members of this committee by the state government. Besides, the Headmaster of the concerned primary school is also designated as member.
  • The main responsibility of the implementation of the scheme at the village level has been entrusted to village pradhan.
  • The norms of inspection of the scheme at the school have been laid down in such a manner as to ensure the inspection of every school as least once a month.
    In order to achieve the objective a cooked Mid-Day-Meal with nutritional contents, is to be provided to all children studying in Ist to Vth classes:
  • The scheme of providing cooked Mid-Day-Meal was initiated in Uttar Pradesh since September 2004.  
Open Discussion 

Sri Anurag Mishra, State Coordinator VANI, New Delhi, invited the participants to express their news regarding the findings of the study. The views expressed by participant are placed in subsequent paragraphs.
Sri Sunil Singh, RAHI Foundation, Sitapur appreciating the quality of study of Mid-Day-Meal conducted by UPVAN expressed that although the scheme is laudable, yet it is not being properly implemented, so as to put forth the desired impact. He appealed the CSOs to come forward for organizing a campaign for making the people aware about the present status of the scheme and build pressure on government to streamline it. Sri Singh narrated the manner in which the data collection process of the study raised awareness level amongst the Gram Sabha. During the Focus Group Discussion on MDM in a village, the Gram Sabha members became aware of the provisions under MDM and forced the Pradhan to implement the scheme in its true nature.
Mr. Shailendra Singh, Lokmitra, Raibareli
appreciated the report and highlighted the problems related to distribution of food. According to him non-payment & irregular payment of the cook & food distributors encouraged leakages in the scheme. The only way to improve the functioning of the scheme is to involve parents in monitoring the MDM. Presence of parents on a rotation basis to oversee the cooking & distribution of MDM is a must for a well-run MDM scheme.
Mr. Ram Kumar, Shashwat Sahbhagi Sansthan, Mishrik, Sitapur
, spoke about how FGDs conducted as a part of data collection for the study, raised awareness amongst the Gram Sabha members. As a result, the Pradhan has increased the number of cooks from one to two.
Dr. Bhadauria (Rtd.) Rural life Analyst praised the methodology of the study, as all the anomalies shown with scheme did exist at the ground level. He told that the indifferent of the guardians and negative attitude of the government officials are the key deterrent factors in the path of successful implementation of the scheme. He elaborated that all government run schemes have similar problems. Awareness generation of the Gram Sabha is the key to better functioning of the schemes. Thus, he suggested that the report should be condensed in workable points and distributed through pamphlets at the village level.
Dr. Khan, Professor of Economics GIRI Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow, emphasized that the report should be presented before the concerned government officials. He did not like the implementation of the scheme in the existing mode. He recommended that the government should be looking all development schemes, especially poverty alleviation that is ineffective. He instead suggested that the BPL families should be a given a pension which would increase the purchasing power of BPL Families.
Mr. J. N. Singh, UPVAN, Lucknow informed the group about how the concerned government departments were approached and copies had been sent the Design of the Study and thereafter the copies the Draft Report were sent to them, particularly to Sri Kamran Rizvi, Director, Mid- Day- Meal authority Uttar Pradesh us for comments. However, UPVAN did not receive any comments from the concerned Departments.
Mr. Diwaker Bhatt, Coordinator UPVAN acknowledged, the important role, the media has played in highlighting the anomalies in the scheme. He suggested that media and CSOs should join their hands in streamlining this scheme.
Sri Meva Lal, gram Pradhan, coming from the district of Kanpur Dehat told that in his gram Panchayat there was problem of supply of good quality of foodgrains. He brought it to the notice of the concerned officers and presently he is getting good quality of foodgrains. Appreciating the report he told that the suggestions placed in the report, are worth translating in to action. He assured the gathering that he would like to follow the same in streamlining the scheme in his gram Panchayat area schools.
Sri Anurag Mishra advised that the government and CSOs must work together on the issues of Health and girls education. This way the schemes like Mid-Day-Meal can be effective.
In the concluding session Sri Debi Prasad Gupta, Executive Member of UPVAN and an established journalist expressed his concern on the unfortunate state of affairs of Mid-Day-Meal scheme which is of prime importance because in the state of Uttar Pradesh about 40 % families are living 'below poverty line and their children are not getting nutritional food. He appealed the press and CSOs to come together for the cause of the successful implementation of this scheme. In order to make people aware about the provision of this scheme CSOs should initiate a campaign. At the end he thanked the participants for their participation and specially thanked the UPVAN staff for bringing out such a qualitative report on such a lively topic and in such an opportune moment.








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