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Mid-day meal scheme needs drastic changes

The mid-day meal scheme was started to fulfil the twin purposes of improving the school attendance of primary students as well as their health. It is unfortunate that 23 children lost their lives due to negligence in Bihar. Before implementing it, some basic infrastructure was necessary to be provided to schools. Most schools do not have a proper place for cooking, washing of utensils and eating meals. The decision was implemented in a hurry without creating any such infrastructure.

The required manpower to monitor its preparation was not provided. In most schools, teachers are responsible for collecting ration, preparation and serving of food as well as washing of utensils. So, instead of teaching, their main job is now feeding children.

Another problem is the rotten ration which has to be lifted by the school authorities and under no circumstances can they refuse to take the ration due to the contractors/dept holders' clout with politicians. A strong policy on the matter needs to be made by the Central and state governments. Let the responsibility for the Bihar tragedy be fixed and make efforts to avoid a repeat of such a tragedy.


Cruel treatment

On the one hand, we proudly claim that children are the future of our country, on the other we subject them to cruel treatment by giving them poisonous food. Are there no officials to check food preparation and distribution? The school staff, especially the principal, should be held responsible for the death of 23 innocent lives. Even the Health Ministry and the Union government never took seriously the earlier complaints of dead lizards and insects being found in the mid-day meals. Were they waiting for a tragedy like this to happen? At least, the government should take responsibility for this painful incident.


Give cash to parents

The editorial 'Mid-day tragedy' (July 18) highlights the ubiquitous corruption in every government department and in every walk of one's life. Even the well-meaning scheme for schoolchildren has not been spared by unscrupulous elements. Now the government should transfer the diet money direct to the account of parents. The parents should be made responsible for providing tiffin to their children. One hopes no such contamination can be detected in home-made food. This will not only save the precious time of teachers but also help them make the career of students. Moreover, it will remove corruption prevailing in the scheme.

L R SHARMA, Sundernagar

Rise of Facebook activism

Our society has lost its revolutionary zeal and has restricted itself to Twitter and Facebook activism. People from different walks of life join social media campaigns. Facebook has emerged as the most favoured platform of the armchair activists to express their outrage over any issue.

Owing to lack of web censorship, anyone can say anything and it is a near-perfect means for fanatics. Liberals do not get embroiled in heated arguments and fundamentalists dedicated to extreme ideologies tend to win. Youth have become highly lazy, making statements from their comfort zones. In this hi-tech world, we should know what to reflect upon and what to neglect.


Complaints ignored

What was conceived and executed to attract the poor children to attend school is now going to act as a deterrent. One is well aware of the unhygienic conditions in which mid-day meals are prepared. Though question marks over the quality of mid-day meals had been raised by the media from time to time, no concrete steps were taken. On many occasions, schoolchildren were taken ill after consuming the meals and the government failed to take note of this.


Liquor consumption

According to the 2011-12 official data, nearly 32 crore bottles of Punjab made liquor (PML) and India made foreign Liquor (IMFL) were consumed in Punjab alone. Liquor consumption is expected to rise and touch the 34-crore bottles mark, making Punjabis among the highest per capita consumers of liquor. The reason for the rising liquor consumption in the state is attributed to the fact that the distillation of illicit liquor has become a common practice in rural areas.

In Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts and in the Malwa belt, it is common to distill illicit liquor. The owners of these distilleries enjoy political patronage. Sources say that 60 per cent of the village residents are into this trade and they provide 1,000 litres of hooch daily. The rising liquor consumption leads to fatal accidents, divorces, rapes, thefts, murders and rising incidents of hooliganism, ruining families and careers,. Owing to the three 'As' (availability, accessibility and acceptability), liquor consumption is spreading its tentacles in our society.




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