The midday meal scheme
In this scheme, all children in all government elementary schools are provided with cooked lunch.
Tamil Nadu was the first state to start this scheme, in 2001, and later all state governments began this on the instructions of the Supreme Court.
Benefits of Midday Meal Scheme
- Increased attendance in schools: More and more students have started enrolling and attending school because of this scheme. Also previously the students used to go home for lunch and not return post lunch. With this scheme, students need not go home for the same and attend the school in an uninterrupted manner.
- Uninterrupted work for mothers: Previously the mothers had to leave their work and attend to/ feed their kids when they came home for lunch but after this scheme was implemented there is no need for them to do so.
- Reduction in caste prejudices: Children from all castes and classes sit together and eat their meal, and in many cases dalit women are employed to cook the meal. This has helped in reducing caste prejudices to some extent.
- Better concentration in studies: When the poor students are not hungry, they can concentrate and study better in the school.
In spite of the introduction of such schemes there continues to be a difference in the kind of schools that rich children and poor children attend. What is required is a change in mindset of the people where nobody feels that the other person is inferior to him.
According to Shri B.R. Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution, "Nothing is more disgraceful for a brave man than to live a life devoid of self-respect."
International scenario on equality
India is not the only country where there is a struggle for equality. There are many other democracies in the world where equality continues to be the key issue around which many communities struggle. For example in the United States of America, continue to describe their life as largely unequal. The ancestors of African-Americans were slaves who were brought over from Africa. This inequality continues despite the fact that there has been a movement in the late 1950s to push for equality. One of the discriminatory practices they faced in their daily life was that they had to offer their seat in the bus whenever any white person wished to sit.
The Civil Rights Movement
Rosa Parks was an African –American. Her refusal to offer her seat in the bus to a white man on 1 December 1955 started a huge agitation against the unequal treatment meted out to the African-Americans. This movement was later called the Civil Rights Movement.
The Civil Rights Act 1964:
- Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin.
- Stated that all school would be open for African-American children.
However, in spite of such legislations, the African-Americans continued to be extremely poor and could afford to attend only the government schools which were lacking in facilities and well-qualified teachers.
Challenges of democracy
No country can be described as being completely democratic. There are many communities and individuals persistently pushing for greater recognition of equality in existing and new spheres.
Dignity: It refers to the thinking of oneself and others as worthy of respect.
Constiution: This is a document that lays down the basic rules and regulations for the people and the government in the country to follow.
Civil Rights Movement: It is movement that began in the 1950s in which the African-Americans demanded equal rights and an end to racial discrimination.