Saturday, February 05, 2005

Mouthful 1

Came across some interesting stuff while researching my mid-day meal story (which incidentally, isn't appearing for a month now).

The US of A also has a mid-day meal project. They refer to it as national lunch something or the other, but it's there - in place and as compulsory as they come.
I find this terribly interesting. Usually, one tends to think that government-initiated welfare projects are the lot of the impoverished 'third world'. I know a majority of our swelling middle-class thinks that way. But what most people don't realise is that the real sign of progress and prosperity is this - welfare expenditure... Welfare schemes, made lawful and compulsory.

The US didn't get comfortable without their government spending on stuff like mid-day meals. (It's a different story that they still seem to be producing morons en masse... probably the result of being fed too many hamburgers and 'freedom' fries.)

And the USA isn't the only one. (A sad exception is the UK, where there was a parliamentary proposal to introduce free lunches but it didn't go through for all of the UK. Apparently, some politicians and parents believe there is a 'stigma' attached to free school meals. There were reports that some kids were being made to sit separately, if they availed of the facility... all I can say is "Shame!")

Finland has a similar scheme for free lunch in schools. So does Sweden. And literacy in Brazil shot up to 83 percent after they introduced mid-day meals in schools.

What I'm trying to get at is - welfare schemes are not a sign of poverty. They're the first sign of progress and prosperity.

And ensuring their smooth implementation, in each village and town, is the first sign that we, as a country, are finally waking up to the notion of progress, and committing ourselves to accountability in the system.

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