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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Who is politicising mid-day meal? Ruling party or opposition parties?


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Opposition is a hallmark of vibrant democracy. Constructive opposition is good for the health of democracy. It keeps the ruling elite on the tenterhooks, provided it raises the relevant issues that are people centric.

Today Goa’s regional and marginal player Goa Forward Party (GFP) with one MLA in legislative assembly raised an issue of mid-day meal that school children receive. This scheme is aimed at giving school children proper nutrition along with education that is a fundamental right of every child.

Mid-day meal in school is an emotive issue. Many parents are happy that their children get one meal from their schools along with education. This is one of the reasons underprivileged parents happily send their children to school.

GFP made an appeal to Education Minister to resume mid-day meal scheme before schools reopen following Diwali vacation through a press-conference. GFP general secretary Durgadas Kamat threatened to take the matter to the court if the issue of mid-day meal for school children is not settled.  He demanded that EM should increase mid-day meal rate from ₹6.10/- to ₹8/-   Kamat also advised CM Dr Pramod Sawant against politicising mid-day meal scheme.

GFP general secretary thinks that education department has lost its focus and course correction on CM’s part is required. GFP tried to grab CM Dr Pramod Sawant’s attention through this press-conference on the issue of mid-day meal scheme. However, entire message got lost in the din of unsolicited advice to CM who seems to be one step ahead of his political opponents.

When media persons brought to CM’s notice the issue of price with regards to mid-day meal scheme for Goa’s school children, he gave his word to pay ₹1.90 paisa more. But there is a catch. This rate is applicable only if the empanelled self-help groups improve their food quality. CM Dr Pramod Sawant added that he has inspected the food quality that leaves a lot to be desired. And, fifty percent of students do not eat mid-day meal owing to lack of taste.

Now who is politicising mid-day meal scheme? CM is ready to pay more. He knows that the quality of food served in mid-day meal is below par. Should he not take stock of the situation and send out a message? Hungry children deserve better food. Their parents send them to school with high hopes. Should he – as the head of the state – play with the hopes of parents and their children? Get your act together. Work hard. Satisfy your clients. Then ask for more. Is there any harm in following this philosophy?

Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is BJP-led government under the stewardship of CM Dr Pramod Sawant is following the credo, “Together with everyone. Development for everyone. Trust in everyone.”

The Opposition parties are trying to make mountains out of molehills. The bankruptcy of ideas is there for all to see. All said and done, on a positive note, it is good that opposition party with just one MLA is trying to take on the juggernaut of Goa BJP. It shows Goa’s vibrant democracy where opposition parties have full freedom of speech. Well done.

Irfan Gheta
Irfan Gheta
The writer loves to comment on the current affairs

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