In the News:
Plan to Seek ISKCON Aid for School Meal

by SANTOSH K. KIRO, The Telegraph India

Posted August 4, 2009

Ranchi, July 29: Controversies surrounding the midday meal scheme have prompted the state to consider handing over the job of preparing and distributing food among schoolchildren to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) and NGOs.

Iskcon is already in charge of midday meal in Bangalore, Karnataka, on behalf of the state government there.

"We will form a committee to examine the possibility of handing over the job of midday meal preparation and distribution to NGOs later. However, as this is a policy decision, the governor has to approve it," state HRD secretary Mridula Sinha said.

Sinha had paid a visit to Bangalore to seek first-hand knowledge about the way Iskcon is handling the job. And after being satisfied with Iskcon's functioning, Sinha wants to replicate the system in Jharkhand. However, the administration has decided to first ask Iskcon to take charge of the midday meal in Jharkhand. "We will first approach Iskcon before asking the other NGOs to take care of midday meal scheme here. After that, we will come out with a policy decision," she said.

Iskcon, Sinha said, has developed a systematic system of providing meal to the children food under the scheme. It has centralised kitchens for cooking midday meal where the food is packed in safe containers and sent to the schools.

The HRD secretary, however, did not give any deadline by which the Bangalore model will be adopted in Jharkhand. She said that as the plan involved participation of two agencies - the state and NGOs - it would take some time to thrash out the details.

But Iskcon only caters schools located in city areas in Bangalore. Hence, if the organisation is given the responsibility to run the midday meal scheme in the state, its involvement will be limited only to the city.

The rest of the areas will continue to stay under the aegis of the state. Thus, while teachers in city schools will be free from the responsibility of midday meal and can concentrate on teaching only, their counterparts in rural schools will have to continue with the old system.

At present, only a meagre amount of Rs 2.50 is allotted per child by the government. Of this, Rs 1.50 is borne by the Centre while the rest is shelled out by the state.

Click Here for the article in The Telegraph, India