Meals prepared by Dalits are untouchable

Deep rooted caste bias and untouchability is still prevalent. Even the Dalit chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has not been able to bridge the social divide based in caste prejudices. In Uttar Pradesh, at least 40 percent of schools of Shahjehanpur, Badaun and Pilibhit district, teachers and students do not eat food prepared by members belonging to the lower caste for Midday meals (MDM). The Midday meal scheme is not only affected by caste bias but it also appears that there is gross dereliction of duty on the part of officials responsible for its implementation in order to serve its purpose. There are also reports that in schools of urban area, roti and vegetables are never served and in almost 80 percent schools there is a discrepancy in the enrolment of students and students availing the benefit of the Midday meal scheme. In this regard, a report has been prepared by the Lucknow University’s department of education to highlight the state of affairs of these schemes. According to the findings of the report, upper primary schools children avail the midday meal scheme less as compared to primary section because of their awareness of the caste system. Food grains are stocked in village pradhan’s house and 10 percent schools of rural areas of these districts do not get the required amount of food grains needed to cook the Midday meals. In these schools, 95 percent students bring their own utensils. Non-iodised salt is used in only 5 percent schools and 30 percent schools used wood to cook their meals. Taking strong note of the findings of the report the Centre has asked the Uttar Pradesh government to send a detailed report by 31 July.    
MG News Desk

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 July 2011 on page no. 11

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