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Minister short on fodder for meal reply

MINISTER FOR Basic Education Kiran Pal Singh on Friday found himself ducking continuously under the queries hurled at him, on ?mid-day meal?, by students and school teachers from across the state during Lucknow Doordarshan?s live show, ?Awam Ki Awaaz? on Friday evening.

india Updated: Feb 11, 2006 01:09 IST

MINISTER FOR Basic Education Kiran Pal Singh on Friday found himself ducking continuously under the queries hurled at him, on ‘mid-day meal’, by students and school teachers from across the state during Lucknow Doordarshan’s live show, ‘Awam Ki Awaaz’ on Friday evening.

For most of the 30-minute programme the minister was at the receiving end, giving clarifications and making the government stand on the issue clear to the students. The minister did admit that all was not well with the scheme. “We do act as and when we receive complaints,” he said and sought people’s support in making the scheme successful.

Ravindra Yadav from Meerut during the ‘phone-in’ session with the minister asked, “Students from well-off families are not interested in the scheme. The poor are not benefiting anyway. So what’s the point in continuing the scheme?” Javed Ahmad from Basti raised the issue of how the mid-day meal scheme has lost its objective. Krishna Kumar from Agra, Akhilesh Singh from Azamgarh and Shaukat Ali from Lakhimpur Kheri felt that academic atmosphere was affected because in certain cases, the ‘mid-day meal’ was cooked in class rooms itself.

Another caller said that the food grains meant for the scheme were sold in the market.

The minister said that the government did not discriminate between rich and poor. “If the students from well-off families do not want to have mid-day meal, the government can do nothing about it. And I don’t think that it’s correct to say that the food grains under the scheme was sold in the market.”

‘Awam Ki Awaaz’ exposed the reality specially in schools in rural areas. It showed live images from schools where children were getting half cooked or uncooked meals. The minister admitted that on occasions he came to know about substandard food grains received from the Food Corporation of India (FCI). “We wrote to the HRD ministry about it as well,” he said.

First Published: Feb 11, 2006 01:09 IST