Friday, August 7, 2020
Home Opinions The campaign against Akshaya Patra: Fuelled more by morbid bigotry and vested interests than...

The campaign against Akshaya Patra: Fuelled more by morbid bigotry and vested interests than concerns for children welfare?

Are we going to risk the future of our children by scrapping an extremely successful service that benefits a great many children without any solid evidence merely because of some objections fueled by bigotry and vested interests?

The Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) is under attack again from motivated activists for its mid-day meals. Recently, ‘Experts’ wrote an open letter to the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) demanding that they withdraw the compliance certificate that was awarded to the APF after their technical opinion on the matter was sought by the Karnataka government.

About three weeks after the open letter, a report was published on The Hindu by Archana Nathan where the argument was made that children are not eating the food provided by the APF because it was too bland. It also relied on a report by the Karnataka State Food Commission (KSFC) which claimed that children were not eating as much as they should because they did not find it tasty enough.

How the KSFC came to that conclusion is not said, nor is it said if the KSFC conducted or pitched the idea for any comparative study to ascertain the level of food consumption by children in mid-day meals across the country. Before the APF is dragged through the mud, due diligence ought to have been observed to produce some manner of evidence to suggest that schools, where mid-day meals were not provided by the APF, performed better in this regard.

No evidence appears to have been provided either to suggest that children in schools were APF provides food suffer disproportionately from malnutrition. It is not clear if they suffer from malnutrition at all. Therefore, under such circumstances, the stubborn insistence to serve food that goes against the ethics of APF seems rather mystifying and bewildering.

One person on which The Hindu relied on for its report is Dr. Sylvia Karpagam, an activist associated with the Right to Food campaign, which has numerous foreign funded NGOs working under its banner as well. “They don’t like the food,” she said. “You can bring bowlfuls of something I’ve never eaten in my life and tell me it is really healthy for me, but I’m not going to eat it. It is human behaviour. You need to like the smell, the taste, you need to want to eat it. What’s happening is that because they’re so hungry, the children are eating a bit, but definitely not to a full stomach. Isn’t the entire objective of the mid-day meal scheme then just lost?”

The only problem with Karpagam’s claims is that she makes vast generalizations that appear true on the surface but does not stand the test of scrutiny. She makes the claim that children are being forced to eat because they are hungry and they never eat to a full stomach as the food is bland but any parent can confirm, children would hardly ever finish their food if left to their own devices.

Perhaps, a greater responsibility ought to be placed on school authorities to ensure that children finish the content on their plate. In real life situations, multiple factors are at play, to singularly blame the lack of onions and garlic alone for children not finishing their food, and even that has not been conclusively proven yet, will take an extraordinary deal of evidence even the minutest portion of which hasn’t been produced thus far yet.

Karpagam, herself, got some deeply problematic opinions and it’s unclear the extent to which her opinions are being influenced by her thinly-veiled bigotry. Her tweets and the kind of tweets she retweets are enough evidence of her inherent bigotry.

In the past, Karpagam has also written an article where she claimed that Brahmins obstruct India’s development. In the article, she wrote, “Brahmin doctors mislead patients about nutrition, promoting vegetarianism in spite of all scientific knowledge and medical guidelines pointing to the contrary.”

Karpagam also states that Brahmins have created “havoc” in the field of nutrition. She says that Brahmin nutritionists drink cow urine. Apart from Brahmin doctors and nutritionists, Karpagam has problems with Brahmins in bureaucracy, education and academia, research, feminism, literature, media, judiciary, civil society, banking, economics, politics, industry, basically in every field under the sun. The entire article is a virulent spectacle of anti-Brahmin bigotry and resembles the kind of propaganda that was run against Jews in Nazi Germany.

That the opinions of such bigots are treated so respectably in mainstream media is a grave cause for concern. It appears quite obvious that Karpagam’s tirade against Akshaya Patra is motivated by a virulent hatred for the Brahmin community and a desire to uproot ‘Brahmin hegemony’. In her mind, APF is a Brahminical organization despite the fact that it is an arm of ISKCON which is a Vaishnavite sect. Therefore, the mid-day meals must be opposed at all costs.

The campaign she is associated with, too, appears to have vested interests. The campaign against APF has been engineered by the Right to Food Campaign which represents a very specific section of ‘civil society’. This section receives funding from Christian organizations abroad, from George Soros’ Open Society Institute which has a very controversial record and has intimate links to ‘Urban Naxals’ and separatists.

An organization in the steering group of RFC receives huge funds from the same organizations that donated huge sums of money to another organization that published a report demonizing the Amarnath Yatra. Under such circumstances. the attack on Akshaya Patra appears to be part of the nefarious agenda of these ‘civil society’ organizations.

The opinions of Umashankar S.R., principal secretary of education in Karnataka, comes as a breath of fresh air in the otherwise motivated The Hindu report. He is quoted as saying, “NIN has said that APF meets the nutrition standards, so why should we cancel the contract with APF? Except for this one small reason (the refusal to use onion and garlic), there are a lot of advantages for the government to continue its contract with ISKCON. They provide hygienic meals and cater to a large group of children in the state as well as in the country. We aren’t delving into philosophical and religious issues. And we cannot punish them unnecessarily for somebody’s objections.”

“Who is going to serve such a huge number of children if we cancel this contract?” he said. “There are logistical issues; overnight, we cannot build kitchens and hire cooks. The administration cannot function on the basis of philosophical arguments. I’ve told these activists directly — they have their heads in the clouds. I live on earth.”

On one hand, we have activists motivated by vested interests and quite blatant bigotry. On the other hand, we have an institution which runs a very efficient mid-day meal scheme serving lakhs of children. On one hand, we have logistical issues that are very efficiently handled by APF, on the other hand, we have objections which are quite ostensibly motivated by bigotry. The question at the heart of the matter is, are we going to risk the future of our children by scrapping an extremely successful service that benefits a great many children without any solid evidence merely because of some objections fueled by bigotry and vested interests?

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

Related Articles

Trending now

“Ghus ke maro salo ko”: Muslims clashed with Hindus objecting to Ram Pujas on 5th August in West Bengal

Muslims came out in large numbers in Kolkata to prevent Hindus from celebrating the Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pujan on 5th August

Child abuse? Netizens react as co-founder of AltNews shares the photo of an underage girl to intimidate the grandfather

Responding to a tweet by a Twitter user, Md Zubair chose to target the young girl seen in the profile image of the user instead of replying

‘Kashi Mathura Baki Hai’: Krishna Janmabhoomi Nirman Nyas set up in Mathura, 80 sadhus from 14 states named as members

The original Keshavnath Temple was destroyed by Aurangzeb and the Shahi Idgah Mosque was built on its plinth.

Senior lawyer K Parasaran who fought Ram Mandir case is not on Twitter, colleagues clarify after fake account gets followers

One of those heroes who rose to the challenge and was instrumental in the reclamation of Ram Janmabhoomi is 93-year-old K Parasaran, who successfully led the legal fight of Hindus

Palghar case: Maharashtra govt to file status report, SC asks for inquiry report against cops who handed over Sadhus to mob

SC asked the Maharashtra govt to file a status report in connection with the brutal lynching of two Hindu sadhus and their driver in Palghar on April 16.

Muslims chose to stay back in India: An analysis of the mythical, unsubstantiated trope that is used to make Hindus feel guilty

Muslims who stayed back in India after the partition, did not primarily do so out of their innate love for mother India

Recently Popular

Twitter user arrested by Maharashtra police for criticising the Uddhav Thackeray govt on social media

Mumbai Police arrested Twitter user Sunaina Holey for posting against Maharashtra CM and his son, to be presented in court today

Here is why #BabyPenguin is trending on Twitter, and why Aaditya Thackeray is called so by some

Yuva Sena registered complaint against twitter user for calling Aaditya Thackeray "Baby Penguin" and Uddhav Thackeray "Aurangzeb"

While most Bollywood actors and cricketers chose not to welcome Ram Mandir, here are the ones who did not shy away

Only a few actors and sportspersons celebrated Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pujan and shared wishes on social media.

Muslims chose to stay back in India: An analysis of the mythical, unsubstantiated trope that is used to make Hindus feel guilty

Muslims who stayed back in India after the partition, did not primarily do so out of their innate love for mother India

Pakistan borrows $1 Billion from its all-weather ally China to repay $1 Billion Saudi Arabia loan to avoid default on international debt obligations

China tightens its grip over Pakistan, gives $1 billion loan to repay Saudi Arabia's $1 billion loan, grants 90% of $6.8 billion railway project

TV actor Sameer Sharma found hanging from the kitchen ceiling, case of accidental death registered

After body of Sameer Sharma was recovered from his house, a case of accidental death has been registered by the Malad police

Kerala nun rape case: Rape-accused Bishop Franco granted bail again by Kottayam trial court

The court will now hear the case on August 13, 2020, when the charge-sheet will be read out in the court.

Modi govt abolishes textile board with ‘activists’ and ‘experts’ pontificating, to get work done through institutes like NIFT instead

The Handloom Board was an ornamental board that had activist and experts who essentially pontificated without doing any real ground work

Bollywood: Rapper Badshah questioned by Mumbai police crime branch over fake follower scam

As per reports, there are over 170 high-profile stars who have allegedly paid to gain fake followers on social media.

Centre defends media’s right to report Tablighi Jamaat case in SC, says Jamiat petition demanding gag order based on non-accredit fact-check portals

Islamists and their sympathisers had collectively rushed to shield the Tablighi Jamaat super spreaders of Coronavirus

The Wire claims ‘activist’ Rehana Fathima should be celebrated and not punished for posting video of her children painting on her nude body

The Wire in an article claimed that the perverse actions of Rehana Fathima ought to be celebrated and not punished.

Uttar Pradesh: FIR filed against miscreants from a ‘particular community’ for attacking Hindus celebrating Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pujan in Sultanpur

People from 'particular community' attack Hindus celebrating Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pukam in Uttar Pradesh's Sultanpur

Uttar Pradesh: Three linked to radical Islamist outfits PFI and SDPI arrested for sharing communal posts on Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pujan day

Dr Aleem, Kamruddin and Sahibe Alam were reportedly caught posting hateful and communally charged posts on Twitter.

‘Blatant Hindu-tilt’: Islamic seminary Jamia Nizamia says Kamal Nath and Congress have betrayed Muslims by supporting Ram Mandir

Jamia Nizamia, one of the oldest Islamic seminaries in India, has advised fellow Muslims to stop trusting Kamal Nath and Congress

Dalit family in Uttar Pradesh became the first to receive Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pujan’s prasad, read why

While a Dalit was chosen for the first prasad, Iqbal Ansari was chosen as the first person to receive the Bhoomi Pujan invite

Kerala gold smuggling case: NIA informs court that prime accused Swapna Suresh had close links with CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s office

The high-profile Kerala gold smuggling case has wreaked havoc on the incumbent Kerala State government

Connect with us