The Case of Akshaya Patra

Arsh Ajmera 1st June 2019

 

A recent article by The Hindu has triggered a debate over the Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF). Specifically their contribution to Karnataka's midday meal (MDM) scheme. Animated and sentimental opinions have been making the rounds on social media. The discussion appears to have regressed into a conflict of ideologies and stories rather than an examination of facts based on concrete and applicable proof.
In the article which exposed Akshaya Patra, the journalist mentions that several school children complained of the food being bland. After close examination, the report said that the food was bland as there was no onion and garlic in it, which should not have been the case as these ingredients are a part of the state government menu.
How the Scheme Evolved:
The scheme originated in the early 1920s, when the then Madras Municipal Corporation in the Madras Presidency introduced the program for disadvantaged children. The scheme became a major policy initiative in the post-Independence period under Tamil Nadu chief minister’s K Kamaraj and MG Ramachandran. By 1995 the central government further adopted the idea to encourage children to attend school, fight malnutrition and reduce dropout rates. In 2001, the Supreme Court passed an order in the Right to Food case, mandating that the scheme be extended to all government schools across India.
Akshaya Patra: Backed by the Government
It is also disconcerting to see that in a secular country, an organization in partnership with the government is being allowed to dictate the menu according to the beliefs of its own promoters. It is certainly not that Akshaya Patra is shelling money out of its own pockets to provide these meals.
According to a report in Business Today, the organization’s annual report showed that 52% of its funding, about Rs 205 crore, came from 10 state governments, Rs 170 crore from donations and around Rs 15 crore from interest in...

Note: Views expressed in this blog are those of the author.