[AHMEDABAD, 15 October 2007] - Midday meal schemes are being rolled out in schools in some Indian provinces.
But if you are a dalit child in Amreli or Banaskantha districts, in all probability, you will be asked to get your own dish or plate from your home and be served separately. The rice may contain worms and food will be insufficient. In other districts like Sabarkantha, Navsari, Dang and Bharuch, the discrimination may not be there, but the quality of food served may not be any better.
A sample survey undertaken by a city based NGO Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) from 17 September to 21 September 2007 across 99 villages in six districts of Amreli, Bharuch, Sabarkantha, Dang, Navsari and Banaskantha to assess food security schemes in Gujarat revealed rampant caste discrimination.
Sharing the details of the survey, Nadeem an activist from CSJ said that while caste discrimination is widespread, most cases have been reported in Amreli district.
Shobhini Vora, from Kanuni Seva ane Margdarshan Kendra, said that in a number of schools, Dalit children are asked to get their own plates or dishes from home for midday meals. “In a number of schools, the children from lower castes are made to sit separately and they are even asked to bring drinking water from their homes,” she added.
The study also revealed that as well as discrimination, the quality of food provided under the scheme is a cause for concern.
“The quality of food is really bad in Dangs and Amreli,” said Nadeem, adding in some schools in Amreli, the rice served contained worms, while students reported falling sick after eating the food at schools visited in Dangs.
“While there are number of schemes declared for ensuring food security to the people, most of the people are not even aware of them,” Nadeem added.
Shabana Kazi, a paralegal from the Legal Aids Centre Modasa said: “The report, which has come out of a sample survey may not reflect the total scenario of the state.”
But she added action was still needed.
“With this report now available to the central agencies responsible for the implementation of these schemes, we hope they will now act take measures for better implementation of these programmes,” Nadeem added.
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Last updated 16/10/2007 06:39:50