Midday meal scheme is a multi-faceted programmeof the Government of India that, among other things, seeks to address issues of food security, lack of nutrition and access to education on a pan nation scale .

[1]It involves provision for free lunch on working days for children in Primary and Upper Primary Classes in Government , Govt. Aided, Local Body, Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and Alternate Innovative Education (AIE) Centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Schools run by Ministry of Labour .The primary objective of the scheme is to provide hot cooked meal to children of primary and upper primary classes. [2] According to the government, it is the world’s largest school feeding programme , reaching out to about 120,000,000 children in over 1,265,000 schools and Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) centres across the country. [3] Contents In 1953, Uttar Pradesh Government introduced a scheme, on voluntary basis, to provide meals consisting of boiled or roasted or sprouted grams, ground-nut, puffed rice, boiled potatoes or seasonal fruits.During 1962-63 ,Tamil Nadu became the first state in India to initiate a noon meal programme to children with the launch of Mid Day Meal Programme in primary schools .

[8] On 1st July 1982, Nutritious Meal Programme was introduced and initially implemented in Child Welfare Centres for pre-school Children in the age group of 2 to 5 years and to the primary school children in the age group of 5 to 9 years in rural areas. The programme was subsequently extended to Nutritious Meal Centres in urban areas from 15th September 1982 and later extended to school students of the age group of 10 to 15 years from September 1984.The Children in the age group of 2 to 5 years and the students in 1st to 5th standard receive nutritious meal throughout the year (365 days) and those in standard 6th to 10th receive the meal on all school working days (220 days approximately). [9] Gujarat was the second state to introduce MDM scheme in 1984 , but it was discontinued in between . From August 1990 to October 1991 MDM was replaced by Food for Education Programme where in children with 70% attendance were provided 10 kgs of food grains free of cost.

Later, from 15th January 1992 MDM Scheme was re-introduced. [10] The Mid Day Meal Scheme was introduced in the state of Kerala in 1984 in the Lower Primary Schools functioning in 222 Villages, having Fishermen as majority. During 1985 the scheme was extended to all Lower Primary schools (Std. I to IV ). The scheme was extended to Upper Primary Schools (std. V to VII) during 87-88.

The scheme was further extended to the students of Std. VIII during 2007-08. 11]Mid Day Meal was also being provided to children in Tribal Areas in some States like Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. By 1990-91 the number of States implementing the mid day meal programme with their own resources on a universal or a large scale had increased to twelve, namely, Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.

In another three States, namely Karnataka, Orissa and West Bengal, the programme was being implemented with State resources in combination with international assistance.Another two States, namely Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan were implementing the programme entirely with international assistance. [12] Initiatives by Central Government International Assistance An Expanded Nutrition Programme was launched jointly by the Government of India and the FAO, WHO, UNICEF during 1958-59[13], which subsequently developed, into the Applied Nutrition Programme (ANP). Under this, demonstration feeding programmes for the school children wherein nutritious food was cooked by the women groups and fed to the children under the nutrition education component.International voluntary/charity organisations too had a role , to name a few - assistence in providing milk powder to Delhi and Madras Municipal Corporation by Church World Service (CWS) ,Co-operative of American Relief Everywhere (CARE) - providing Corn Soya Meal (CSM) Balahar, bulgar wheat and vegetable oils,UNICEF joining hands in supplementary feeding programme in India to combat malnutrition and provided milk powder/ peanut flour (protein rich foods) as well as imparting nutrition education . 14] In 1982, 'Food for Learning' was launched with FAO commodity assistance .

Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) girls were to be covered under this programme. [15]In 1983, the Department of Education of Government of In, prepared a scheme as per the guidelines of the World Food Programme (WFP).The scheme was to cover 13. 6 million SC girls and 10. 09 million ST girls in classes I-V in 15 states and three union territories, where the enrolment of SC and ST girls was less than 79 percent In monetary terms, the total annual cost of commodity assistance was $163.

27 M[14]. The other cost, such as transportation, handling, cooking, etc. , were to be borne by the State Governments. The proposal when circulated among states and union territories met mixed results. Many States were willing to implement the programme.

However, some States expressed certain difficulties.Rajasthan felt concerned that if WFP assistance were withdrawn, the state would not be able to continue the programme on its own and Uttar Pradesh felt that it would not be practicable to have mid-day meals only for SC and ST children[1]. National Programme of Nutrition Support to Primary Education[edit] The Government of India (GoI) initiated the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education(NP-NSPE) on 15 August 1995 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme .The objectives of the scheme are to give a boost to universalisation of primary education by mitigating classroom hunger and improving nutritional status of primary school children.

Initially, the scheme was implemented in 2,408 blocks of the country to provide food to students in classes I-V of government, government-aided and local body run schools. By the year 1997-98, the scheme was universalised across all blocks of the country. Under this programme , a cooked mid-day meal with 300 calories and 12 gram of proteins is provided to all children enrolled in classes I to V.In October 2007, the scheme included students in upper primary classes of VI to VIII in 3,479 educationally backward blocks, [16] and the name was changed from National Programme for Nutrition Support to Primary Education to National Programme of Mid Day Meals(MDM) in Schools .

[17] Implementation of the scheme[edit] During the initial stages of Implementation , it was perceived that the mode of delivery of nutritional support could be in the form of hot cooked meal, precooked food or food grains. Only four states viz.Gujarat, Kerala, Orissa and Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Pudhucherry were providing cooked meals. All other states were providing dry rations supplied by Food Corporation of India (FCI) distributed under Public Distribution System (PDS) at 3 kg of food grain per child to a family for ten months which would be equivalent to set norms for 100g /day / child for 200 school days (subject to a minimum attendance of 80 percent). States like Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir reported that they could not implement the programme due to resource constraints while the Union Territory of Chandigarh and Delhi ue to logistic problems continued to serve processed foods like fruit bread, biscuits and fruits. [5].

Criticism on Dry Rations The experience of dry rations and biscuits which were part of the NSPE has shown that these were often not consumed by children and though they did push up enrollment it had little impact on attendance and retention levels. The nutritional impact of dry rations are likely to be lower when compared to a cooked meal.While the freshly cooked meal offers a better range of nutrients , the packaged food on the other hand is costlier in terms of per rupee nutrient yield. 18]Biscuits are processed foods that are low on fibre and high on trans fatty acids, which are seen as an important long-term risk factor for a range of emerging diseases like coronary heart disease and diabetes [19] In MDM the evidence suggests that children often take the dry rations home and may or may not eat it later, and in contexts of poverty, this food often gets shared by the family. [18]More over , the dry rations lack the socialisation value which the MDM scheme provide ,whose long term benefits can be seen in caste and class barriers breaking down. 20] Supreme court order Article 21 - " Right to life" of Indian Constitution when read together with Articles 39(a) and 47,makes the Right to Food a derived Fundamental Right which is enforceable by virtue of the constitutional remedy provided under Article 32 of the Constitution.

In April 2001, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) initiated the public interest litigation (Civil) No. 196/2001, People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India & Others (PUCL)[21]- famously called as "Right to food litigation. PUCL argued that the idle grain in FCI godowns should be used to protect people from hunger .This included providing mid day meals in primary schools .

The scheme became legal right after the Supreme Court order. [22] dated 28 November 2001, directed all government and government-assisted primary schools to provide cooked midday meals making ,children (or their parents) demand school meals as a matter of right, and enforce this right through Courts if necessary.Supreme Court Commissioners[edit] In an order dated 8 May 2002, the Supreme Court appointed Dr. N.

C. Saxena and Mr S R Sankaran as commissioners of the Court to redress complaints that have not been resolved by the Collectors and the Chief Secretary. [23] Sankaran subsequently resigned, and since then Shri. Harsh Mander has been working as Special Commissioner to the Supreme Court. [24] They can take the help of NGOs and individuals to help them monitor the implementation of the court's orders.

The Commissioners are empowered to enquire about any violations of the orders and to demand redressal, with the full authority of the Court. They also submit periodic reports to the Supreme Court.These reports enable the Supreme Court to keep a close watch on the status of its orders, and to issue further orders as and when necessary. [23] Interim orders[edit] The Supreme Court has been issuing “interim orders” on midday meals from time to time.

[25] Some details on the orders are[23] Order regardingExact TextOrder Dated Basic entitlement"Every child in every Government and Government assisted Primary Schools with a prepared mid day meal with a minimum content of 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein each day of school for a minimum of 200 days"