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Welcome aboard + mid-day meal

a) I noticed that a bunch of new members have joined. Welcome aboard, and
please introduce yourselves by sending a brief note to Nikhil Parekh
<nikhil2000@yahoo.com> who will update the web site accordingly.

Please note: we are writing a document. So this is back-breaking work, and
is not intended to be a spectator sport for some while others - bruised
and battered gladiators like me (fingers and hands in disarray!) throw
their entire energy into the 'ring.' So scratch your heads and help in
drafting this document: India's future depends on you! (and this is

In particular, pl. also welcome Ms.Iris Madeira, President of the
Association of Youth for a Better India, Bombay (http://aybi.vishwa.com/).
I notice from her web page that their organization is doing some excellent
work. I am impressed by all these young folks doing so much for India! Go
young folks! Do better than the oldies who have basically ruined India
(except for a few good oldies like ... me? )

b) Mid-day meal:

On Wed, 16 Sep 1998, Dr. A.K.Singh wrote:

>  I feel the mid day meal scheme should
> Envolve the parents body while implementing
> these schemes. (This will check the substandard
> food being given to kids and improve management
> accountability )

All research points to the enormous success of such programs in increasing
retention, and in improving the health of children. There is no doubt that
in many cases, the way the program is currently implemented, huge leakages
are the norm. That will change if parents are fully involved with the
management of the schools, and all funds for this program are publicly
known to everyone. Then, other NGOs like Vikram's can spend time helping
monitor such programs for us, the tax-payers.

I have personally seen some of these programs ranging from ICDS
(anganwadi) programs for pre-schoolers to the mid-day meal program in
Tamil Nadu. There is a range of possibility here. Fundamentally, however,
I think these programs serve a crucial purpose and must be strengthened by
putting into place local initiative and incentive (By the way, when I
speak of such things like local initiative, I am fully aware of the
ENORMOUS difficulty of overcoming local apathy and power-politics. But I
do not see any way in which a government employee, accountable to none,
can perform better than a locally managed employee).

Dear Vikram: your view should be the final view on this topic of mid-day
meals since you are so closely working with children. Tell us: how can we
ensure that such a program actually works? If it is never going to be
possible to do it, no matter how we design it, then let us trash it; else,
put it in the manifesto with a brief note on how it will work. After all,
this debate will go through many iterations, involving more and more
people in each iteration, before we can as individuals, endorse the entire


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