Over the last couple of days, many people, especially celeb journalists have been sharing a news report by left leaning newspaper The Hindu to prove that there was never a ban on mid day meals in Kerala school during Ramzan – as claimed by many right leaning people on Twitter.
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) September 13, 2015
However, the report by The Hindu is made up of half truths.
The first glaring half truth is that the report cites documents and situation of year 2015 to prove there is no ban, while the claim was made in 2013. The report by The Hindu doesn’t cite any official documents belonging to the year 2013, which can conclusively prove that there was no ban.
The report by The Hindu quotes a government official to prove that there is no ban in 2015, and a CPI(M) MP is quoted to prove (indirectly) that there was no ban ever (by inference, no ban in 2013 as well). For The Hindu, a communist MP might be reliable source who will not tell a lie, but we at OpIndia.com are not too sure about that. Nonetheless, there are other problems in the report too.
The government official is quoted saying “timing of schools here are changed during the month and classes end early at 2 p.m. So, we are ensuring that the children are fed before they leave the school.”
This proves two things:
- School timings are changed during Ramzan in some parts of Kerala.
- Authorities have to “ensure” that non-Muslim children are fed during Ramzan.
People who insist on individual liberties and secularism should not be comfortable with the fact that school timings are changed to suit the need of a religious group. However, we know the truth of “secularism” in India, so we can safely assume that school timings changed for Ramzan is not even a concern for the “liberal” activists.
Also, if such activists are fine with school timings being changed for Ramzan, will they be fine with meat shops timings changed during the Jain festival? If yes, we have a solution to meat ban – the meat shops are opened only during the night. This is as innovative as school timings getting over before mid day meal time begins.
The second point – that the authorities are “ensuring” that children are fed – clearly hints towards the fact that many children might not getting mid day meals earlier, due to which authorities have to “ensure” that the same doesn’t happen in 2015.
It’s easy to guess what would have been happening earlier. School gets over by the mid day meal timing. Majority of the students from Muslim communities leave due to Ramzan. A few non-Muslim students now have to assertively demand their mid day meal is cooked and given to them. It is anyone’s guess how many kids will do that. Practical thing to do will be to go back home as the school is virtually closed.
So even if there was no “official ban” on mid day meals, it was very difficult for a non-Muslim kid to have it. This difficulty is confirmed by this news report and this video report that talk about the controversy that had erupted in 2013.
Remember when porn sites were blocked, it was called “porn ban”. Technically there was no ban on porn; you were free to watch porn, but practically it was impossible to watch it online (assuming you didn’t know about proxies). So if mid day meal is made impractical to have, is calling it a “mid day meal ban” so wrong? Why should one group have that literary freedom to use the term “ban” while the other group is subjected to legal and technical standards?
In essence, the report by The Hindu doesn’t cite any document that can either prove or disprove the claimed mid day meal ban in 2013, but it surely leaves enough hints to conclude that the situation could have been as bad as a ban.