Letter to Principal Secretary (28-10-2020): Regarding re-starting Mid-day meals and Ksheera Bhagya and Providing Eggs in government schools

Date: 28-10-2020


Principal Secretary to the Government,

Department of Primary and Secondary Education Department

Government of Karnataka, Bengaluru

Sub: Regarding re-starting Mid-day meals and Ksheera Bhagya for school children in Karnataka

We are a group of nutritionists, doctors, activists, lawyers and citizens, who are shocked and concerned that the Government of Karnataka has not been providing the legally mandated Mid-day meal or even dry rations since June 2020 to children enrolled in government-run and government-aided schools, which is a gross violation of their right to food and nutrition guaranteed under the National Food Security Act 2013. Additionally, the provisioning of milk (powder) under the Ksheera Bhagya programme of the government has also been discontinued since June 2020.

It is well known that Karnataka has dismal indicators when it comes to nutrition. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 4th round (2015), In Karnataka, most children are not reaching their ideal height and weight, with stunting (less height for age) of 39%, undernutrition (less weight for age) of 40%, more in Scheduled caste (SC) and Scheduled tribe (ST) children and anemia of 56% even before starting their school life at 6 years.

Role of the Mid Day Meal Scheme

The Mid Day Meal Scheme, launched in 1995, was introduced to ensure that children going to government schools have at least one nutritious meal in a day and this was also hoped to increase school attendance and performance. Under the National Food security Act (NFSA) governments are legally mandated to meet nutritional standards of the MDM. A well planned meal is expected to meet the dietary requirements of 450 – 700 cal and 15-20 gm of protein.

In a letter dated 20-03-2020, Joint Secretary (EE.I), Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, reiterated the obligation of state governments to provide nutritional entitlements under NFSA even during the closure of schools because of COVID-19 pandemic.

In a subsequent letter dated 29-04-2020 sent by Joint Secretary (EE.I), Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, guidelines were laid down regarding provision of Food Security Allowance both for school months as well as summer vacations.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order dated 18.03.2020 in Suo Moto Writ Petition (Civil) No. 02/2020, observed that “Non-supply of nutritional food to the children as well as lactating and nursing mothers may lead to large-scale malnourishment. Particularly, the children and the lactating and nursing mothers in rural as well as tribal area are prone to such mal-nourishment. Such mal-nutrition may affect their immunity system and as such, such children and lactating and nursing mothers would be more prone to catch the infection….while dealing with one crisis, the situation may not lead to creation of another crisis…………In that view of the matter, it is necessary, that all the States should come out with a uniform policy so as to ensure, that while preventing spread of COVID-19, the schemes for providing nutritional food to the children and nursing and lactating mothers are not adversely affected”.

The National Human Rights Commission in its ‘Human Rights Advisory for Protection of the Rights of Children in the context of COVID-19’ dated 29-09-2020 recommended to “Re-start MDMS to provide hot cooked meal or dry rations to every child, including children who have migrated, even if schools are shut so that they do not slip into malnutrition” and “Proactively monitor the delivery of services on the ground to ensure that no child is excluded from MDMs/dry rations”.

Denial of Mid-day Meals by the Government of Karnataka

When schools closed because of COVID-19 in March and midday meals were stopped for around 48 lakh children from classes 1-10, the State government provided ration kits that included rice and toor dal for three months till May. However, it has not distributed rations to students for five months from June to October.

Thus the government of Karnataka is violating the rights of children on multiple fronts and actively contributing to further aggravate the current nutritional crisis. It is also to be noted that many of the children in government-run and government aided schools are predominantly from Dalit, minority and Adivasi communities. Therefore this also amounts to state perpetrated discrimination.

Inclusion of eggs in the Mid-day Meal Scheme

As per the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), one egg weighing 60 gm would provide around 100 kcal of energy and 8 gm of protein as well as most of the other vitamins and minerals required for proper functioning of the body, except Vitamin C. The NIN recommends consumption of at least 3 eggs per week in view of several nutritional advantages. There have been several demands for eggs in the mid-day meal from civil society, parents and children in Karnataka.

Several states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal have been providing eggs as part of their MDM programme. Odisha became the latest to join this group of progressive states, after the state government directed the ISKCON-linked NGO Akshay Patra to provide eggs. Karnataka is the only southern Indian state not to provide eggs as part of MDM, largely because of the opposition from certain religious groups.

94% students studying in schools run by the government or aided by it, belong to communities, a majority of which have no objection to inclusion of eggs in MDM. Thus, the opposition of few communities against inclusion of eggs in MDM amounts to imposition of food practices of a minority on the majority and effective denial of nutrition to 94% children studying in these schools. As per the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) at least 83% of the state’s population doesn’t have any cultural or religious objections to consumption of eggs. One should also note that eggs are already being provided at anganwaadis to severely and acutely malnourished (SAM) children under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

However, eggs are not provided by the State government for the last several years citing religious reasons. Therefore a simple and scientific means of providing calories and proteins are lost to the children.

We demand that the government urgently take following measures:-

  1. Immediate provision of dry rations for all the pending months since May, and no further delays in future
  2. Along with dry rations, milk powder should be provided to the school-children under the Ksheera Bhagya scheme of the state government for all pending months since July and on a regular and prompt basis for the subsequent months till the opening of the schools.
  3. Eggs at the rate of at least 5 per week per child should be mandatorily provided to the children. Only eggs can provide highly bioavailable protein (one 60 gm egg provides 8 gm of high quality protein). This has to be sanctioned on a priority basis.

We request all concerned people to endorse this letter demanding that the Government of Karnataka provide nutritious food IMMEDIATELY to the children of the state.

Endorsed by

S. NO.NameOrganisation/Affiliation
1A.T. Gokul BharathiStudent
2Aarti Bhatt MDPediatrician—CAR
3AbhijeetUniversity of agricultural sciences Dharwad
4Abhishek DivakarSwaraj Abhiyan
5ABHISHEK PatilStudent
6Adwitee RoyChennai Mathematical Institute, PhD student
7AkshathaAnnapoorneshwari mahila sangha
9Alwyn D’SouzaIndian Social Institute, Bengaluru
10Amrutha .SChamundeswari mahila sanga
11AnanthalakshmiKabbalamma mahila sanga
12AnilCenter for non formal and continuing education
13AnithaMoogumaramma mahila sangha
14Annie RajaNFIW
15Anurag P
16Arati ChokshiCitizen
17ArpithaKabbalamma mahila sangha
18Arul AnthonyBUNNJI telecom – Melbourne Australia
19Arul PandianBunnji Telecom – Melbourne Australia
20AshwiniMooguttamma mahila sangha
21Asmita GhoshConcerned Citizen
22AVInstitute of Public Health
23Avani ChokshiCPI(ML) Liberation
24Ayesha SiddikaChamundeshwari mahila sanga
25Ayyappa ManviDPI MANVI
26B. Sripad bhatSSJ, Bangalore
27Balu RajuBangalore Dalit Forum
28Bharamanna Tippanna ChakrasaliHolycross Social Service Centre Mainalli
29ChandiniAnnapoorneshwari mahila sangha
30Chinu SrinivasanLocost
31D T SRINIVAASAMURTHYSocial Welfare And Rural Development Society
32D. AlbertSnehasadan
33DebaratiTISS Hyderabad
34Deepa MSri Ranganatha Mahila sanga
35DeepikaJan Swasthya Abhiyan
37Deepti BhartiNational Federation of Indian Women
38Dev DesaiANHAD
39DevikaLakshminarasimha swamy mahila sangha
40Devika singhMember , Alliance for the right to ECDCD
42Dinesh M PolIIIT Dharwad
43Dinesh VENKATESWARANCivil society
44Dr Arun GuptaBreastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI)
45Dr Gopal DabadeDrug Action Forum -Karnataka
46Dr Milind RKalyan karnataka Edu & Rur Dev Society NGO
47Dr Srinivasa KakkilayaPhysician, Mangaluru
48Dr. Antony K RIndependent Public Health Consultant
49Dr. C T AnithaPublic Health Specialist
50Dr. Imrana QadeerDistinguished Professor, Council for Social Development
51Dr. Joseph Xavier SJIndian Social Institute
52Dr. K B ObaleshThamate/ safaikarmachari kavalu samithi-Karnataka
53Dr. Mohan RaoIndependent researcher in Bangalore.
54Dr. Suhas KolhekarHealth Rights Activist/NAPM
55Dr. Sylvia KarpagamPublic Health Doctor
56Dr. Veena ShatrugnaMedical scientist ( Rtd.)
57Dulsine CrastaShanthi Sandesha Trust, Resource and Development Centre on Child Rights, Mangalore
58Eldred TellisSankalp Rehabilitation Trust
59Ethiraj VTrade unionist
60Eveleen BenisSchool of Social Work
61Fatema HunaidSelf
62Fatema HunaidSelf
63Firdouse KhanFORWARD TRUST
64G RaviDisability Rights Activist
65G ThiraviyamFourth Wave Foundation, Bengaluru
66Gamana Mahila SamuhaOrganisation
67GayithriLakshminarasimha swamy mahila sangha
68Gurumurthy KasinathanIT for Change
69Haajer KhanResearcher, Teacher
70Hari AdivarekarIndependent Photojournalist
71Harini SrinivasanWriter and Organic farmer
72Ian LoboThinkers Tribe
73Inayat Singh KakarIndependent
74JagadeshDalits Intellectual Forum
75Jalla LalithammaPeoples Organization for Rural Development (PORD)
76JayammaKabbalamma mahila sangha
77Jehad NasserNone
78Jerald DSouzaLoyola Vikas Kendra
79Jerrald DsouzaAshirvad Social Concern
80Josmitha D SouzaJanatha Kendra
81ಕಲ್ಪನಾಶಿವಣ್ಣಚಿಗುರು ಬಾಲವಿಕಾಸ ಸಂಸ್ಥೆ (ರಿ)ಮಾಗಡಿ, ರಾಮನಗರ ಜಿಲ್ಲೆ, ಅಧ್ಯಕ್ಷೆ
82K NaveenM.A in Public Policy and Governance, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
83Kapila GurejaLok Manch
84Kathyayini ChamarajExecutive Trustee, CIVIC Bangalore
85Kavitha srinivasanMAKAAM
86Khizere alamSwaraj India
87kiran kamal prasadJEEVIKA-Jeeeta Vimukti Karnataka
88Kiran kumarStudent
89KomalaMooguttamma mahila sangha
90LakshamammaCIRW ANEKAL
91LakshmammaMuguttamma Mahila shanga
93Lakshman janekalDalit Panther of india
94LalithaMoogumaramma mahila sangha
95Lalitha MatthewPrivate
96LatifaHealth group
97Lokesh kumarAmrithabhoomi
99M.S.JayalakshmiGrameena Mahila Okkuta
100Mabel PintoDeepalaya Social Service Centre Indi
101Madan MondalHead Teacher of Kumarchak Primary School, under Haldia Circle.
102MadhuJanapriya Seva Kendra
103Madhu BhushanWomen’s rights activist
104Mahadevappa DevarSpandana Swayame Seva Samste, Vijayapur
105Maimoona MollahJMS, Delhi
107MalleshwariBangalore Dalit Forum
108Mamatha yajamanGamana mahila samuha
110ManjulaLakshmi Mahila sangha
111ManjulaLakshminarasimha swamy mahila sangha
112ManjulaChamundeshwari mahila sangha
113Manu Chowdhuri CIndividual
114Mariam DhawaleAll India Democratic Women’s Association
115Md. ShafiuddinSahayog ngo
116MeenaMoogumaramma mahila sangha
117MeenakshiKarnataka Domestic workers union
118Mereena JosephJanatha kendra
119Mohammad NasBangalore
120Mohammed UmmerProject Smile Trust
121Mohan RJana Chinthana Kendra
122Moyyudin KuttiPresident , Karnataka SDMC Coordination Foroum, Mangalore
123Mubina JamdarFreedom dietitians
124MukhtarConcerned Citizen
125N Manu ChakravarthyVisiting Professor of English,THE NATIONAL COLLEGE, BASAVANAGUDI
126N. JayaramPUCL
127Naavu BharathiyaruKarnataka
128Nagaragere RameshP D F
129NagarathnaLakshminarasimha swamy mahila sangha
130Nagarathna BMAsare
131Nagati NarayanaCenter for Educational Studies (CESS)
132Namitha HRShree Lakshmi mahila sangha
133NandiniMooguttamma mahila sangha
134Narendra babuCIRW ANEKA
136Nawaz AmanConcerned citizen
137Nayan MJhatkaa.org
138Nayaz Khan AChinthana Foundation
139Neelmani SinghSARC
140Neeta AlvaSt. Joseph High School
141Neha saigalDevelopment consultant
142Nidhin SasiIT Employee
143Niki NirvikalpaPedestrian pictures
144Niranjanaradhya V.P.CCL-NLSIU, National Law School of India University
145Noor FatimaEnvironmentalist
147Padmini KumarJoint women’s Programme
148PavithraAnnapoorneshwari mahila sangha
149Pooja JhorarRajasthan Gramin Aajeevika Parishad
151PoornimaMoogumaramma mahila sangha
152PrabhavathiChamundeshwari mahila sangha
153Prabir KCDoctor
154Pradeep EstevesContext India
155Prajwal K AradhyaAdvocate
156Prajwala HegdeIndependent journalist
157Prakash DoleREACH Bidar
158Pramila J VazProffessional Social worker
159Prashanti GaneshTotal Strength System LLP
160Pratik RoyIIT Madras
161Praveenkumar G koradakeraUniversity of agricultural Sciences Raichur
162Preeti Edakunny, PhDEEL
163Prof. G. DevegowdaEmeritus Professor, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore
164Pruthvisagar c sKarnatak science College Dharwad
165Puja ShuklaStudent
166R Ravishankar
167RadhaOm shakti mahila sangha
168Radha HollaRight to Food Campaign
169RahulDr Ambedkar Vichara Vedika
170RajammaKabbalamma mahila sangha
171RajarajeshwariJagruta mahila okkuta
172RamyaChamundeshwari mahila sangha
174RoopaMookambika Mahila Sangha
175Rosamma ThomasFreelance journalist
176Rukmini VPGarment Labour Union
177Rumi HarishAlternative Law Forum
178Sagar STech Mahindra
179Saheli Women’s Resource CenterSaheli Women’s Resource Center, New Delhi NCR
180Sainath RajoleEngineer
181Sandeep Sangshetty Devke
182SandyaMooguttamma mahila sangha
183Sanjana KRAmc engineering college
184Santhosh Wilson WalderLoyola Vikasa Kendra
185SaraswathiOm shakti mahila sangha
186Sashikala AttigeCFI Loyola Janaspoorthi SHG Trust
187Sathya SCommune, Communication Consultancy
188Sebastian DevarajFEDINA
189Shaila RosarioCenter for Nonformal Education
190Shakun DoundiyakhedGamana Mahila Samuha
191ShantaOm shakti mahila sangha
192Shantha RManila shakthi vedike Harohalli
193Shantharaj T.Centre for Integral Rural Welfare, Anekal
194SharadaMooguttamma mahila sangha
195SharadaMooguttamma mahila sangha
196Sharada GopalJagruta Mahila Okkuta
197Shardha RajamBatch of 2019, NUJS
198Sharol SaldanhaCenter for Nonformal Education
199Shashank SRResearch Scholar, National Institute of Advanced Studies
200ShashikalaCIRW ANEKAL
201ShashikalaAnnapoorneshwari mahila sangha
202Shazin SiddiquiHuman Collective
203ShilpaChamundeshwari mahila sangha
204Shiva ShankarVisiting professor, IIT Bombay
205Shivali TukdeoNIAS
206Shobha BRMahila shakthi vedike
208ShwethaOm shakti mahila sangha
209Siddharth K JIndependent researcher, Bengaluru
210SowmyaAnnapoorneshwari mahila sangha
211Sr. CeliaNapm Karnataka
212Sr. JacinthaSchool
213SuchitraChamundeshwari mahila sangha
214SudhaChamundeshwari mahila sangha
215Sudha ReddyCCL, NLSIU
216SugunaLakshminarasimha swamy mahila sangha
217Sujitha VAll India Queer Association
218SukanyaMoogumaramma mahila sangha
219Sulakshana NandiPublic Health Researcher
220SunandaOm shakti mahila sangha
221Supreeth GopalMechanical Engineer
222Suresha KChaitanya Global Foundation (R.)
223SusheelaCIRW ANEKAL
224Sushrut JadhavProfessor of Cultural Psychiatry, University College London
225Swarna bhatGRAKOOS
226Syeda Hajeera IqbalForward Trust, Bengaluru
227Tanvi KanchanIT for Change
229Teyol MachadoCenter for Non Formal Education, Bijapur
230U. PremachandraRetired PSU Executive
231UmaLakshminarasimha swamy mahila sangha
232V S SreedharaPeoples’ Democratic Forum
233Valentine DsouzaHoly Cross Sisters
234Vandana PrasadPediatrician
235Vandana SrivastavaCentre for Learning
236VaralakshmiMoogumaramma mahila sangha
237Veronica VSAdvocate
240Yogesh K SIT for Change


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