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Children are no doubt the future of our country. The Government took 55 years to realise that before they started programmes for the benefit for children. 52% of the children (below 14yrs) are below the poverty line which makes it around 180 million of them. Shattering!! is all I can say.

I’d like to put forward a recent example of how we, as ‘responsible’ Indians treat our children. On the 28th of February, the Finance Minister came and presented the union Budget from which 7800 Crores ($1.5 Billion) was allocated for the midday meal scheme for the children. If I were to put it straight forward, the Government spends Rs 8/- on every poor child in a year. That indirectly will get him nothing more than a cup of rice for one day. Now what exactly does a kid get under this scheme; a bowl of rice and spiced water. Little does he know that in the garb of free food, the government is treating him like a dirt bag.
In 2002, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) filed a petition in the Supreme Court regarding the right to food. Something that has not been recognised in India till date. While the case is still going on, the Court passed interim orders regarding the Midday Meal scheme and the Integrated Child Dev. Scheme (ICDS). These two are to be monitored by commissioners appointed by the Court. It seems that the Government treated this order like a jolt in its functioning and formally launched the ‘midday meal prog’. It would be more of an understatement to say that today the scheme is nothing more than a way to fill the pockets of the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
We claim to be a democratic welfare state. Theoretically it means that the Government shall secure the rights of all its citizens and aim for the promotion and upbringing. In a country with 300 million below the poverty line, this remains to be seen. One still finds it hard to believe that it has taken more than 50 years for the Gov. to make welfare programs for its children. The irony is that amidst all this we pride ourselves in our misery. We show that we are a booming economy despite the fact that millions are dying of hunger. At times, we are made to believe that the democracy that we call ourselves to be does not consist of the poor and those who are denied rights. The gov measures to do alleviate this situation are nothing but a farce. Its high time the gov pulls up its socks and does something concrete. Most of these schemes fail in their implementation and there is no authority/procedure to check their abuse. Democracies thrive on the welfare of their people and not on growth figures which is what is happening.

The above picture is nothing but a representation of the discussion in the post. While on one side the Gov prides itself in growth rates, the poor suffer. We have poor children with no clothes to wear coming about and holding a WLL telephone. !!!!!
For more about the budget and society, read;
Brinda Karat – Priorities are Wrong (Times of India, March 1, 2007)