Reconsider move to not serve eggs

Reconsider move to not serve eggs

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s decision ruling out the serving of eggs to children in anganwadis is illogical, misguided and short-sighted. As part of a pilot project, the Central government-sponsored Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) had proposed serving boiled eggs or egg curry to children in the 3-6 years-age group in anganwadis in the three tribal-dominated districts of Alirajpur, Mandla and Hoshangabad. Eggs are a rich source of protein. They are highly beneficial, especially to severely malnourished children. Since Madhya Pradesh is among the states with the highest levels of hunger and malnutrition in the country – 20 per cent of its children are severely malnourished, 51.9 per cent in the under-5 age group are underweight and 48.9 per cent are stunted, with these problems rampant among tribal children accounting – it is likely that the ICDS saw serving eggs in anganwadis as an effective way to tackle these problems. Unfortunately, Chauhan did not get that point or rather, he allowed other considerations to guide his decision on the matter.

Chauhan is a strict vegetarian. Religious beliefs, cultural consideration, his upbringing, etc are likely to have contributed to his vegetarian diet. While he is entitled to be a vegetarian, he cannot allow his personal culinary preferences to determine policies and programmes in his state. It shouldn’t be the chief minister who makes these decisions but nutrition experts as they know what is best for the physical and mental development of children. Chauhan is said to be ‘emotional’ on the issue. Allowing emotions to rule over reason isn’t the way the government should be formulating policies and decisions. If eating eggs does not go against the culture and beliefs of the tribal children, then they must be served eggs in the anganwadis.

Those supporting Chauhan’s decision insist that a glass of milk or banana is a better option to an egg. It is not. A single egg contains 13 grams of protein compared with the 3.4 grams and 1.1 grams contained in a glass of milk and a banana, respectively. Except for Vitamin C, eggs contain most of the essential nutrients that growing children need for their healthy mental and physical development. Madhya Pradesh has taken large strides in recent decades as has India in improving the health and well-being of children. The chief minister is putting in jeopardy the many gains achieved by making a fetish of his personal food preferences. He must reconsider his decision to allow the serving of eggs to the tribal children.
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