Skip to main content

Top Govt of India institute told to withdraw report calling onion, garlic, eggs "tamasik"

Counterview Desk
A group of signatories -- 10 organizations and 94 individuals* -- including activists, academicians, lawyers, doctors, journalists and researchers, have sent an open letter to scientists of the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), asking it to withdraw its report submitted to Government of Karnataka regarding the appropriateness of the food being supplied by Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) as part of Mid-day Meals scheme.
APF has been supplying food to 2,814 schools across six district in Karnataka as part of Mid-day meals scheme which is fully-funded by Government of India and Government of Karnataka. A sister concern of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), it has refused to include onion and garlic in the food supplied to schools because it considers these ingredients to be 'tamasik' (evoking negativity).
The signatories believe, this is in violation of not only the menu prescribed by the Government of Karnataka but also the terms of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by APF itself. It also violates Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) Guidelines which prohibit propagation of private beliefs through Mid-day Meal scheme, not to speak of the basic tenets of the Constitution.
Following complaints by the Karnataka State Food Commission and civil society groups, the Government directed APF to comply with the prescribed menu. Subsequently, APF approached higher officials in the State government, which sought technical advice from the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI). While CFTRI refused to comment on most of the questions regarding nutritional adequacy, taste, diversity, safety and hygiene etc. of the food being supplied by APF in the absence of a systematic empirical study, the singatories feel, NIN offered completely unfounded and biased comments on the food supplied by APF without so much as visiting a single school or talking to a single student eating this food.
A pivotal scientific institution providing technical inputs for nutritional policy making in the country, the signatories feel, NIN providing technical inputs without any rigorous scientific field evaluation does injustice not only to its reputation as an independent institution but has the potential of adversely affecting the nutritional status of several children, some of them from extremely deprived conditions. They urge NIN to immediately withdraw the report submitted to the Government of Karnataka, pending a systematic field evaluation.

Text of the letter:

We the undersigned have held the National Institute of Nutrition in high regard for its contributions to nutrition research and evidence-building, and have the used its work as part our effort to secure right to food for all citizens of India. We are therefore dismayed at the unscientific, biased and irresponsible response sent by the Institute through its Director to the request from Government of Karnataka regarding assessment of nutritional value of food supplied by Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF).
APF has been supplying food to 2,814 schools in Karnataka as part of the Mid-day meals scheme (MDM) which, it needs to be emphasized, is a scheme fully funded by Government of India and Government of Karnataka. The scheme aims at providing students studying in the schools, a nutritious meal containing locally and culturally relevant food, which children will find tasty enough to eat in adequate quantity.
APF, on the other hand, has refused to provide eggs or use onion and garlic in the food supplied because it considers these foods as ‘tamasik’. Since onions and garlic are part of the traditional foods like sambhar in Karnataka, and hence has been included as part of the menu prescribed by the State government, their non-inclusion by APF was raised by the Karnataka State Food Commission and civil society groups.
Following this, the Government of Karnataka had asked National Institute of Nutrition and Central Food Technical Research Institute for its technical inputs on nutritional adequacy, bioavailability, diet diversity, taste and food safety and hygiene.
In their response, CFTRI has refused to comment on the nutritional quality, taste, diversity and safety of food supplied by APF instead asking for sufficient time and resources to do a proper assessment. NIN, on the other hand, to our utter shock and dismay, has made sweeping statements praising APF, without carrying out any systematic scientific study.
No empirical data was collected on the quantity and quality of ingredients used or amount consumed and amount wasted by children to certify food supplied by APF as nutritionally adequate. Instead, a paper menu submitted by APF, was considered evidence enough to comment on an aspect of the scheme which have nutritional impact on lakhs of children!
Even more shockingly, without visiting a single school or speaking to children consuming the food, NIN has taken the unwarranted liberty of commenting on the taste and safety of the food even which fly in the face of observations by State Food Commission of monotony of the food supplied by APF or media reports of children vomiting after consuming the food on some occasions.
The eagerness exhibited by NIN to offer opinions in this case, in absence of any scientific field evaluation, raises serious questions regarding NIN's credibility and independence.
In view of NIN's history and tradition of rigorous scientific research and considering that the nutritional future of the lakhs of children studying in government schools and availing mid-day meals has been undermined by the unscientific report submitted by NIN to Government of Karnataka, we urge you to withdraw the report immediately pending a systematic field evaluation of the food being supplied by APF.
---
*Click HERE for the list of signatories

Comments

Prof Prem raj Pushpakaran writes --- 2018 marks the 100 years of National Institute of Nutrition!!!
https://www.youth4work.com/y/profpremrajpushpakaran/Prof-Prem-Raj-Pushpakaran-popularity

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.