The initiative of providing eggs with mid-day meals thrice a week for Karnataka students has received opposition from a few religious groups. They claimed that if the rule isn’t withdrawn there will be several protests.
Lingayat seer Channabasavananda Swamiji on December 2 told The News Minute (TnM), that “If eggs are given, then schools will turn into military hotels. Instead, grains and pulses should be given. If the rule isn’t withdrawn, there will be severe protests.”
Many members of Lingayat groups have opposed the move aimed at countering malnutrition. It includes the Rashtriya Basava Dal, Lingayat Dharma Mahasabha, Akkanagalambika Mahila Gana Karyakartharu, Basava Mantapa.
Leaders have been opposing the move, despite the government’s announcement that students who are vegetarians will be given bananas instead of eggs. Amid opposition, several groups and politicians have appealed to the state government not to backtrack on the move.
Secretary of Jagatika Lingayat Mahasabha SM Jamadar told The Hindu that the organisation had ‘absolutely no problem’ with eggs being provided, as long as an alternative was available for vegetarian children. And added that the organisation will not oppose the government’s decision.
For the past several years, the matter of including eggs with mid-day meals in Karnataka has been a demand of activists and other stakeholders. The state government on November 23, said that eggs would be available for students in seven districts- Bidar, Raichur, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Koppal, Ballari,and Vijayapura. In these areas the instances of malnutrition and anemia are high.
Reportedly, several civil society organisations under the umbrella of ‘Our Food, Our Right’ have written to state Education Minister BC Nagesh, urging the government not to bow down to pressure from religious and political organisations. The organisation has also asked why children from other parts of the state are deprived of eggs along with their mid-day meals. And added why eggs cannot be provided every day instead of just three times a week.
“We, the members of different Civil Society Organisations, welcome the decision of the state government to provide eggs for children in select districts of Karnataka, as part of Mid-day Meals to uphold the Right to Food of every child as enshrined in the National Food Security Act 2013. This is very much needed to reduce malnutrition and promote their health,” the organisation told TnM.
The group added that “nutritionists, doctors, activists, lawyers, and citizens who are extremely concerned about child malnutrition in Karnataka, eggs should be provided as part of the mid-day meal scheme on all school days to all children in Karnataka, who are used to consuming eggs.”
The group further cited the 5th National Family Health Survey (2019) which found that 35.4% of children in the state report stunted growth, while 32.9% are underweight and expressed that the pandemic is likely to further worsen the situation. In addition, they have demanded that milk be also provided to children among other interventions.
As pointed out, Karnataka was the only south Indian state not to introduce eggs as part of the mid-day meals even though 94% of students in the government and aided schools eat eggs.
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