eGovernance in India

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Boardroom in classroom: India Inc is helping script mid-day meal success story in Rajasthan

Posted by egovindia on June 25, 2006

Boardroom in classroom: India Inc is helping script mid-day meal success story in Rajasthan

Sandipan Sharma

Posted online: Sunday, June 25, 2006 at 0000 hrs

JAIPUR, JUNE 24:This week’s front-page stories about India Inc getting into big-ticket infrastructure, real estate, agro-processing and information technology pushed into the sidelines another significant foray by corporate India. This time, into the mid-day meal scheme in Rajasthan.

Responding to an aggressive campaign by the state government to attract the private sector to ramp up its mid-day meal scheme, the biggest corporate names in India and abroad and industry-backed NGOs are adopting district after district in the state to ensure that children coming to schools get high-quality meals during their lunch breaks.

The Birla group, Mahindra and Mahindra, Infosys, DCM Sriram and Sterlite groups are already part of the scheme in Rajasthan. The Tatas, Oberois, Nevatias (Gujarat Ambuja), and even steel king L N Mittal have also expressed their interest to join.

Confirming this, the state’s mid-day meal scheme director Sudhansh Pant said: “More than 4.5 lakh children in Rajasthan are getting extremely nutritious food prepared by some of the big industrial houses in the country.”

Rajasthan is arguably the only state in India which has been able to attract so much support from the private sector for this scheme. The involvement of the private sector in the scheme, launched in July under the directives of the Supreme Court, is a result of a well-devised public-private partnership.

There are more than 73 lakh students in various primary schools of Rajasthan. And though the state and the Centre set aside a provisional budget of nearly Rs 580 crore, the average amount that the state could spend on a student, including the transportation cost, was just Rs 3.20 per meal.

Besides this finance crunch, the quality of meals was constrained by the lack of organized infrastructure and cooking facilities. Aware of these constraints, a few months ago the state Government, led by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, launched a campaign to enlist the support of the private sector, sending individual letters to industrial houses. The state government is also constructing more than 25,000 mid-day meal kitchens and stores as part of the ongoing drought relief works.

The Bangalore-based Akshay Patra Foundation (supported by Infosys) was the first to take up the cause, triggering a trend. Today, nine corporate houses and NGOs like the Naandi Foundation—backed by several Hyderabad corporates— run the scheme in 11 towns of Rajasthan. Eleven others have signed up MoUs for supporting the scheme in several districts.

The Rajasthan Government provides the food grain and conversion cost of Rs 2 per child (the highest in the country) to these organizations. With inputs from the organizations that enhance the quality and nutrition value, the meals are then cooked in centralized kitchens set up by these organizations and served in hot cases to the children.

Apart from preparing meals, the private sector is also contributing generously to create the mid-day meal infrastructure in the state. “We have received donations (and proposals) in excess of Rs 4.5 crore for setting up the infrastructure from industrial houses,” Pant told The Sunday Express.

Infosys, Tata, Birla, Mittal, M&M, Oberois…

Already Functioning

Naandi Foundation (supported by Reddy Labs, Satyam and several other Hyderabad-based corporates): Udaipur (70,000 students), Bhilwara (15000)

Akshay Patra (Infosys): Jaipur (53,200), Baran (10,600), Rajsamand (10,000)

QRG Foundation (Havell’s): Alwar (10,000)

Proposals Received

Hindustan Zinc Ltd: Kapasan, Gangrar, Nimbahera (80,000)

DCM Sriram & R K Marbles: Kishangarh (20000)

Tatas, Oberoi, L N Mittal (have responded to state’s request, details being worked out)

Financial Assistance

AV Birla Group (Chittorgarh): Rs 1.12 crore

Mahindra and Mahindra (Udaipur): Rs 1 crore

DCM Sriram Group (Jhalawar): Rs 50 lakh

sandipan.sharma@expressindia.com

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