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Government of India’s latest nutrition suggestion: Free milk for school children from Bihar, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu

Posted:  Thursday, July 02, 2015

Children enrolled in government schools may have a reason to cheer if the Indian Government’s latest suggestion is actually implemented. The Centre’s latest suggestion is to provide free milk to children from the Indian states of Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan as part of the mid-day meal scheme. The states of Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh already provide free milk in an effort to improve the nutritional status of school children.

This noble suggestion was made by the Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh who wrote to the respective state chief ministers in response to the inputs provided by the department of animal husbandry in his ministry. During a review meet, the department had observed that the different state milk federations had surplus of skimmed milk powder.

Distributing the surplus milk and milk products (yoghurt, cheese, and buttermilk) among school children would not only ensure a nutritious balanced diet for them but would also drive effective utilisation of the available stocks. In his letter, Mr. Singh mentioned Karnataka’s "Ksheerabhagya" scheme launched in 2012-13 and a similar scheme launched by the Madhya Pradesh government. These initiatives aimed at supplying milk to schools and anganwadis thus providing clean and hygienic nutrition to children.

"I would appreciate if your government launches a similar milk programme in the Mid Day Meal scheme, addressing the issue of child malnutrition in the country by utilising milk powder from the cooperatives which will help in enhancing nutrition of school children as well as improving their retention," he wrote.

The surplus milk with the state federations seemed to pose economic constraints too in that it reduced the working capital. In spite of this hurdle, the cooperatives continued procuring milk solely for the benefit of the farmers and milk producers in the country. Providing surplus milk to school children is a noble yet economically viable way to ensure health and utilise precious resources.

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