A six-year-old girl in Bangalore, a high tech city of Karnataka in India, died of pneumonia, intensified by severe malnourishment a couple of years back. Soon after this, the Karnataka government started providing eggs in Anganwadis.
Now, anganwadi workers in the city say the extra funds for eggs rarely come from the government. The staff has often paid for the eggs from their own meager salary. "I'm not sure how long we will be able to distribute eggs to children," says a worker who didn't want to be named.
The debate around eggs in the school feeding program has resurfaced this week, as the Madhya Pradesh government banned eggs in anganwadis. About 52% of children in the state are malnourished, but the only explanation for the ban is that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is a 'pure vegetarian.'
With this, MP joins several states that have knocked eggs off their school feeding program. Maharashtra, Delhi and Gujarat have also recently banned eggs completely even after a 2011 Supreme Court verdict on right to food issued an order for states to serve prepared meals with a minimum content of 300 calories and 8-12 gms of protein each day.
The scientific findings are clear: eggs can be the ideal protein to battle the country's record-breaking malnourishment. Protein is essential to build muscle, increase height, balance hormones and to repair tissue especially for growing children and lactating mothers.
The basis of nutrition policy in India has been cereals and pulses, the staple diet of Indians, and the chief food group to meet the minimum calorific intake. "Cereals give bulk and provide satiety, but in general, protein derived from vegetable foods is of less value to the body than protein derived from animal food," said Veena Shatrugna, former director of the National Institute of Nutrition.
Children are the future and they should not be died because of malnutrition and the laxity over implementing welfare programs of the country. Nutritional programs like serving of eggs to children in anganwadis and schools should never be banned.