Even as the country is taking giant strides in economic development, cases of caste based discrimination continue unabated. In one such incident, the children of a government school in Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh, are reported to have refused to eat the midday meal, which they said was cooked at the home of a Dalit woman. This incident is quite shocking, as it appears that even small children are being poisoned with talks about casteism. It is like polluting the minds of an entire generation, which would defeat the significant efforts being made to eliminate caste-based discrimination.
When asked why they are not eating their midday meal, one of the students responded by saying that the meal is prepared by the woman from Banskar community, due to which they can’t eat it. The student said that they belong to a different community and cannot eat food prepared by a Banskar. The Dalit woman who has been appointed to prepare midday meals for the school children said that only 12 children came to her home to eat their meals whereas the rest refused to have food saying that they do not eat food cooked by a lower caste person.
The school’s headmaster, however, tried to downplay the incident by saying that it has nothing to do with caste-based discrimination. He said that the food needs to be cooked in the school’s kitchen and not in someone’s home. The children may just be avoiding food being cooked in someone else’s home, he added.