A parliamentary panel has expressed serious concern on the instances of untouchability in the mid-day meal programme and recommended punishment against teachers and schools perpetuating such acts.
Observing that untouchability was mostly found in the most remote areas of the country and in coastal areas particularly in Odisha, the committee recommended that the Centre should urgently depute special teams to these places to understand the gravity of the situation and suggest means to tackle the problem.
Expressing concern that some schools and teachers were playing roles in perpetuating untouchability and sowing seeds of caste-related discrimination in young minds, the committee for the welfare of schedules caste and scheduled tribes recommended those involved in ‘such acts’ should be punished.
“Periodic interactive sessions should be held with the teachers by the school management to make them understand the social fall out of untouchability and its lasting impact on the minds of the children.”
Maintaining that though on paper the monitoring mechanism seems to be in order, the committee said that it was a matter of concern that 144 districts were under-performing.
The suggestions are particularly significant in light of the concerns raised about proper implementation of the scheme following the Bihar mid-day meal tragedy.