Economist Jean Drèze on making Aadhaar mandatory for Mid Day Meal Scheme (Source: The Wire)
Published On: 6 March, 2017 | Duration: 11 min, 40 sec.
On 28 February, 2017, the government has notified that children will not be served their Mid Day Meals unless their Aadhaar numbers have been embedded in the data base. This is just one in a long list of coercive steps taken by the government, which not just brings them in flagrant contempt of the orders of the Supreme Court of India that Aadhaar may not be used at all except in 6 specified schemes - and even there voluntarily - but indicates a callous disregard for the lives and health of the people of this country, especially the poor.
The Right to Food Campaign strongly opposes the Central government's move to make Aadhaar compulsory for children under the Mid Day Meal Scheme in government schools. This is nothing but an attempt to coerce people to enroll their children under Aadhaar.
School meals are an important entitlement of Indian children, legally enforceable under Supreme Court orders as well as under the National Food Security Act. Numerous studies show that India's Mid Day Meal Scheme has made an important contribution to higher school attendance, better child nutrition and more effective learning. The MDMS also help to break the barriers of class and caste by imparting to children of diverse backgrounds a habit of sharing meals.
No conditionalities can be imposed on this critical entitlement of Indian children. Making Aadhaar compulsory for the Mid Day Meal Scheme would serve no purpose, and is bound to disrupt instead of helping this important programme. Further, this move is a violation of Supreme Court orders.