Thursday, July 25, 2013


The chicken has come to roost at last vis-a-vis the food contamination episode in Bihar as more than 300000 teachers across the state have revolted against the State government for the insinuation made by one of the ministers that the incidence was a conspiracy to defame the government! Will any self respecting teacher continue to work any more for the government under such circumstances? After all teachers are forced to undertake management of the feeding program being carried on under most primitive conditions over and above the teaching responsibility for which they are appointed and paid for! The babus and politicians take the credit when any government program is lauded while the blame for any mishap is passed on to the low paid workers like teachers in the present case. With the teachers on the war path what option the so called progressive government now ruling will have to continue the program? Will the school meal program be abandoned as the minister concerned has thrown up his hands in despair? What is most disgusting is the implied insinuation that kids were deliberately poisoned for political gains by the opposition political parties! That means the school teachers have no integrity and humaneness in carrying out the diabolical plan with the support of some politicians to murder 23 kids in broad day light! Here is a take on this latest turn of events in Bihar where the ruling party has no time for development work, spending most of its time in its political maneuver to become a shiny model of secularism in the country, whatever that means!

"A week after the death of 23 children from eating a contaminated mid-day meal in Saran district, teachers are in no mood to assist the government in running the scheme. "It was unanimously decided at a meeting of the Bihar State Primary Teachers' Association to boycott the scheme," its president, Barajnandan Sharma, told IANS. "We had repeatedly requested the government in writing to involve teachers in academic work only and employ some agency for the scheme, which was ignored. Teachers should not be burdened with all kinds of non-academic work," he said. Teachers are blamed for anything that goes wrong with the scheme, Sharma said, adding: "It is giving a bad name to teachers due to rampant corruption." He said that it is a well-known fact that teachers and headmasters have to invariably manage the mid-day meal scheme with third-grade food stuff and corruption at every level. "Top to bottom, officials have information about it. But when something happens, a teacher or headmaster is solely blamed for it despite the fact that there are several officials involved in it," he said. Refering to the Saran tragedy, Sharma said: "There may be some mismanagement. Even human error cannot be ruled out. But putting the blame on teachers even before an inquiry has completed surprised us." In the wake of teachers' decision to boycott the scheme, Bihar Education Minister P.K. Shahi said it was difficult to arrange for an agency to run the scheme in 72,000 schools across the state. "The government does not have the resources to hire an agency for the huge task of serving mid-day meals to 1.60 crore students," Shahi said".

The minister has no business to lament about the helplessness of the government in continuing with the program of feeding 16 million kids every day after making the allegation of sabotage in the poisoning episode. Did he not think about the consequences of his irresponsible uttering about sabotage? If the state government does not have the ability to continue with the program why not stop it right now and think of other alternatives to reward the kids for showing their face in the school. Both the governments at Delhi and in the states will have to bear the responsibility for the latest tragedy because they were cornering all the credits being showered on the country by international agencies for "running" the largest "feeding" program in the world! When will the government of India wake up to the reality that schools are not meant to cook foods and teachers cannot manage such hot food programs without affecting the quality of education? There is no other alternative, whether one likes it or not, to supplying processed packaged foods, ready to eat, prepared by established manufacturers with guaranteed quality and safety. Government of India must wake up to this reality before more such tragedies as that happened in Bihar are repeated over and over again across millions of schools in the country.


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