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Is TN’s breakfast scheme populist or pertinent?

GS  Paper 2

Syllabus: Issues related to development of social sector involving education, schemes for vulnerable sections of society etc


Directions: Important for mains, you can use it as a measure to increase nutritional status of children in schools

Source: The Hindu



  • The breakfast scheme caters to 1,14,095 primary school students from 1,545 government school


  • To help students attend school hunger-free and improve their nutritional status.

Socio political developments around the scheme:

  • Political debate on freebies
  • Falling human development performance
  • Educational disruption caused by COVID-19

Responsibility of state under Constitution(Article 38):

  • To promote welfare and minimize inequalities in income as well as in facilities and opportunities among individuals and groups.

Welfare status of India:

  • Global Food Security Index: India is ranked 71 out of 113 countries
  • Global Hunger Index: 101 out of 116 countries
  • Human Development Index: 132 out of 191 countries
  • Schooling: India’s mean years of schooling stood at just 7(six point seven)years in 2020-21.
  • Inequality in education: India has among the highest levels of inequality in education.
  • Credit Suisse report: Rising wealth inequality.

Welfare Status of Tamil Nadu:(The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016-18):

  • Stunted: About 10% of children aged 5-9 years were stunted in 2018, much lower than the all-India average of 22% and marginally lower than Kerala’s average (11%).
  • Underweight: Marginally higher level of underweight children (23%) than Kerala (21%), but this was lower than the national average (35%).
  • Malnutrition: 19% of children were malnourished (BMI for age), which was higher than the 16% in Kerala but lower than the national average (23%).
  • Anemia: About 10% and 7% were anemic and deficient in Vitamin A, respectively, whereas 41% were deficient in Vitamin D.


  • It refers to deficiencies or excesses in nutrient intake, imbalance of essential nutrients or impaired nutrient utilization.


  • It is defined as low height-for-age.
  • It is the result of chronic or recurrent undernutrition.


  • It is defined as low weight-for-age.
  • A child who is underweight may be stunted, wasted or both.


  • It is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or their oxygen-carrying capacity is insufficient to meet physiological needs.


  • Any public policy intervention that doesn’t support medium-term to long-term production and productivity may be termed as a freebie.
    • Free electricity, free water, free public transportation, waiver of pending utility bills and farm loan waivers are often regarded as freebies


  • Expenditure on which brings economic benefits, such as the public distribution system, employment guarantee schemes, states’ support for education and health.

Way forward:

  • Urgent need for implementing innovative and effective welfare schemes: To address the disruptions caused by the pandemic in the education and nutrition sectors and strengthen these sectors.
  • Initiatives: Such as Illam Thedi Kalvi and Ennum Ezhuthum were positive attempts in the education sector.
    • It is relevant to look at how T.N. fares in breakfast scheme
  • Studies from other countries: Free breakfast schemes might help increase educational outcomes and likely increase in school attendance and improved concentration on studies.


Insta Links:

End this asymmetrical conflict over ‘freebies’


Midday meal scheme


Mains Links:

Q. How do subsidies affect the cropping pattern, crop diversity and economy of farmers? What is the significance of crop insurance, minimum support price and food processing for small and marginal farmers?(UPSC 2017)


Prelims Links:

Mid Day Meal Scheme







With reference to Mid day Meal scheme, consider the following statements:

  1. Students upto class VI are guaranteed one nutritional cooked meal at least 200 days in a year.
  2. The scheme comes under the Ministry of Education.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a. 1 only

b. 2 only

c. Both 1 and 2

d. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (b)


  • The scheme guarantees one meal to all children in government and aided schools and madrasas supported under Samagra Shiksha.
  • Students up to Class VIII are guaranteed one nutritional cooked meal at least 200 days in a year.
  • The Scheme comes under the Ministry of education.