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Bihar horror must focus attention on why this powerful scheme is so patchily implemented across India
Even as news broke of children succumbing to the toxins in their school midday meal in Chhapra district, Bihar, political parties snatched it for their own ends. The facts of the case have been barely comprehended, parents and teachers are in shock, but the BJP was quick to blame the Nitish Kumar government for negligence — a government they were part of until last month. The JD(U) went one worse, with the state's education minister hinting at a political conspiracy.
Instead of giving in to their worst instincts, Bihar's political representatives must step back, find out why the midday meal scheme is floundering in the state. In fact, no matter what the cause turns out to be, this tragedy should prompt reflection on its implementation. Why, despite the large budgetary allocations and near-unanimous acknowledgement of its effectiveness as a social intervention, is the midday meal experience so variable across India?