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The media, government and experts in nutrition and related fields began taking a closer look at the Midday Meal Scheme recently after the tragic death of 23 children in a Bihar school.

Soon after that incident, caused by the contamination of food by pesticides, reports started pouring in from various parts of the country about the serious deficiencies in the manner in which food was being served to children. There were unhygienic conditions to contend with, the quality of food served raised questions and in one, widely reported case, children fell sick even as a dead lizard was found in one of the large utensils carrying food.

How sustainable is the Midday Meal Scheme in its current form as the world’s largest school feeding programme, reaching out to about 120 million children in over 1.2 million schools and Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) centres across the country? Inevitably, problems are going to arise on a large scale if the expectation is that in each school, meals have to be cooked afresh.

Briefing brings you an essay by Deepak Pental, a former vice-chancellor of Delhi University who teaches genetics and has conducted research in mustard breeding. Pental has suggested a techno-industrial intervention and a viable alternative in the form processed foods such as biscuits, chikki and other such that are nutritionally enriched, fortified, easy to transport and have a longer shelf life. He has pointed out in this article which first appeared in The Indian Express that this is the preferred method the world over for providing nutritious food to poor children. As a case in point, the author has cited the supply of fortified biscuits by India to poor children in Afghanistan.

In our other sections, we have featured an interview with Supreme Court advocate Lily Thomas who was the joint petitioner in a PIL to the Supreme Court which brought the landmark ruling on de-criminalising Indian politics. As Thomas says in the interview, her primary aim was to ensure that Parliament and public service are free of criminals and corruption and that ensuring this is the duty of the Bar.

While the Books section carries an inspiring extract from "Making Breakthrough Innovation Happen: How 11 Indians Pulled Off the Impossible", Inner Space draws attention to Kaizen- the Japanese philosophy and system of striving for change for the better.

Do go through these essays, stories and features and send us your feedback to enable us to bring a better issue in the coming months.

With best wishes,
Abhay Vaidya

Editor, Change for Better


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