"KHUSHI" is an AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, launched by Vedanta Resources plc, with a focus to sensitize people towards care for the underprivileged and deprived children – their Nutrition – Education – Health and overall development. Join Khushi on facebook at and send motivational stories at . LET US MAKE INDIA A CHILD MALNOURISHED FREE NATION..


‘The city of dreams!’, is the sobriquet that is often repeated in relation to the city of Mumbai. It was a phrase that dominated most of my childhood in Chennai, as my father would travel to the city and come back with tales of a place that never slept and trains that would take you to every nook and corner. It was the trains, more than anything else that caught my fancy. Trains had always symbolised freedom to me. The wind in your hair, the rush of adrenaline to catch the seat by the window and the journey itself, made me yearn to travel by these local trains. I got my first chance this summer as I got an internship in the city. However, all these ‘dreams’ of mine were crushed, not by the crowd as one might suppose but by the number of children I saw begging on these trains.

These children were highly trained in, if you may be bold enough to say, the art of begging. They went from passenger to passenger singing in shrill voices, hardly stopping to give their vocal chords some rest. It was a voice that pierced through your heart and through any apathy that you may hold for those who refuse to work for a living. One can’t expect a child of four or five to be employed; neither can you rudely refuse those pleading eyes that speak of a hunger that fractures any resolve you may have. They were all dressed in tattered clothes which had clearly been cast away by the original owners.

It was one such child who entered the compartment I was seated in that made my heart feel heavy and instil a sense of helplessness in me. All of five years, she ran up to the train just as it was set to leave the Mumbai Central station. Dressed in a green ‘ghagra’, you might not even take her to be a beggar at first sight. But then the singing began. Two lines were all she sang, repeating them over and over again, invoking the lord. I didn’t understand much of what she sang but the desperation in it put me on the edge and it took all my willpower to turn my head away as she approached. The child then to my utter disbelief laid her head on my knee, a sign of complete surrender. I looked at her in shock, sympathy engulfing my heart. She lay there for more than a minute, continuing to sing, begging for some money. A bespectacled old man next to me, who clearly travelled by these trains often, looked at me understandingly and said- “Don’t fall for these tricks. It is an emotional ploy.”

I nodded at his statement in acknowledgement and turned to see that the child had already gone, paving her way through the crowded compartment. All the voices that spoke of fulfilled dreams in Mumbai weighed upon my memory and I couldn’t help but think of the irony. There went a little child, whose dreams never even had the chance to blossom for they were nipped at the bud. Her singing became fainter as she moved away and finally she was out

of sight. But the song never stopped. It continued to reverberate within my head through the day. It was not her face that surfaced in my memories the entire time but the eerie melody of the song she sang. It represented to me a sense of hopelessness and the inability to wrought change. Every note the child hit in the pitiful song, falls as a blow to a system that failed her.

Priyanka Thirumurthy


Survey Also Highlights Increasing Drop-Out In Schools, Widening Teacher-Student Ratio

Rajsamand: The marble town Rajsamand which produces 90% of India's white marble has registered lowest basic learning levels among students in Rajasthan in the last five years. The percentage of students of classes III to V who can do subtraction has reduced from 41.3% in 2009 to 27.8% in 2013. The percentage of students who are out of schools has increased from 2.6% in 2009 to 5.2% in 2013.

As per the Annual Status of Education Report, widening pupil-teacher ratio, poor quality of mid-day meals and no water facility are prevalent in majority of schools. But so far no political party has shown concern to make these issues their poll plank.

Both BJP and Congress candidates are riding on issues like Pakistan, terrorism, Gujarat model, inflation, jobs, opening of new schools and hospitals. Manju Khatik, a social activists based in Rajsamand, said, “Three schools in two gram panchayats Bhatoli and Maduri were closed by the government this year. This decision caused 200 students to forcibly drop out. We have adopted 40 students and are teaching them at our NGO Jatan sansthan. The rest of the students are either working or have left the city in search of work,” said Khatik. She added that ignoring these issues has highlighted the indifference of political parties towards the city.

TOI asked the BJP national vice president and MLA Rajsamand Kiran Maheshwari to explain the reasons behind the decline in learning levels. She passed the buck on the Gehlot government for ignoring the education sector leaving a gross imbalance in the pupil-teacher ratio. “The district had faced government indifference for last five years. Here 130 schools don't have a single teacher leading to drastic fall in the learning levels,” said Maheshwari.

She assured that once the code of conduct is over, BJP government will begin the hiring of teachers to put the education system on track. Sitting Congress MP Gopal Singh Shekawat is promising complete implementation of Right to Education Act here. “Our party enacted this act and we are serious about providing free and compulsory education,” said Shekawat.


Rema Nagarajan
15th April, 2014

Politicians Call It A ‘Shame’, But Do Little To Cure Ills That Plague System

In January 2012, PM Manmohan Singh declared half of India’s children were malnourished and that was a national shame. Yet since then, not a single comprehensive national survey was conducted to determine the acuteness of the problem or measure progress, if any, of steps initiated to address malnutrition. Worse, the issue figures in a token manner in the election discourse of political parties and candidates.
The 2005-06 National Family Health Survey was the last one conducted and it found 48% of children suffered chronic malnourishment — of them, 20% acute malnourishment. The survey concluded that over half the women were anaemic and 36% underweight. The Global Hunger Index, released in October 2013, placed India among a group of countries with ‘alarming’ levels of hunger, figuring at the bottom of the heap, below China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and several in sub-Saharan Africa.
Key interventions to boost nutrition levels include the targeted public distribution system (TPDS), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and the school midday meal scheme (MDMS).
Despite increased food production and procurement for TDPS, food insecurity persists and is a chronic problem linked to poor delivery. The large number of ineligible or fake ration cards issued — a serious problem in some states, usually those that need TPDS the most — has caused huge leakages. The TPDS has glaring exclusion errors. About 20% of the estimated 90 crore eligible beneficiaries are denied subsidized grain as they have no ration card, while 20% of the not-poor do. TPDS remains restricted to wheat and rice that would alleviate hunger, but not address malnutrition. No recommendation to include pulses, oil and nutritious millets has been implemented. Even the food security Act — that UPA counts among its mega achievements — focuses on rice and wheat. Had the Act included higher procurement of millets, pulses, fruits and vegetables, it would have incentivised production of these, instead of just rice and wheat that are water-intensive crops.
ICDS was meant to counter malnutrition in children between 0 and 6 years and pregnant women. Government allocation, including states’ share, increased from over Rs 5,200 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 13,700 crore in 2013-14 and the number of anganwadi centres (AWCs) has increased from 10.1 lakh to 13.1 lakh in 2012-13.
Though almost 90% anganwadis are operational, the ICDS scheme reaches about 47% of eligible children, reported a CAG audit. Coverage in states varies from about 75% in Odisha to 18% in Bihar. Most AWCs lack infrastructure. In 2011-12, only 57% had drinking water on the premises, 47% had toilets and only 25% had a kitchen.
ICDS is meant to provide supplementary nutrition 300 days a year, or 25 days a month. But the number of days the programme worked ranged from 180-250, a CAG audit found. The audit revealed irregularities such as insufficient monitoring, suspected misappropriation of supplies, badly-trained anganwadi workers and shortfall in expenditure on supplementary nutrition, which meant lower per beneficiary expenditure. For a flagship programme that addresses a “national shame” the ICDS programme leaves much to be desired.
Allocation for the midday meal scheme is up from Rs 6,700 cr to over Rs 10,300 cr between 2007-08 and 2011-12. But many states aren’t meeting yearly targets of number of meals served. The scheme’s plagued by reports of children falling ill from eating poor quality or spoiled food. Many states are yet to achieve standards set to run it: constructing a kitchen shed, timely lifting of grains, proper food storage. Women employed as midday meal cooks remain underpaid.
While proportion of malnourished children has fallen since 2005-06, not only has the decline been slow, from 46% malnourished to about 33% by 2013, it’s been uneven with a few states and districts getting worse. But with poor tracking of the schemes’ implementation, or of the population’s nutritional status, no one seems sure if the situation has become any better or worse. And that’s the national shame.
HUNGER POLITICS | Aug 2012 | Modi quoted in interview blaming malnutrition in Gujarat on its “by and large vegetarian diet”. Because it’s a middle-class state, Gujarat is “more beauty conscious than health conscious”Media reports laid bare the bluff: His contentions didn’t square with data whichever way it was spliced. Haryana, even more vegetarian than Gujarat, has better nutritional figuresNSSO data (2009-2010) showed poverty behind state’s poor nutritional indices.
SERVED DEATH | Scams plague the mid-day meal scheme. Last July 27 village children died in Bihar’s Chapra after having the meal. Nitish Kumar cried conspiracy – that they were poisoned. Fact was, there was no monitoring, and the principal ran a racket, serving kids substandard fare.