Snatching the livelihood of thousands of poor, helpless women:
Prior to the privatization of the mid day meal program, the government was engaging women cooks at each school. In Karnataka state alone, more than 1,35,000 women were employed as cooks, assistant cooks. This meant livelihood for as many families. The mid day meal scheme was also meant to be social change agent and generate employment in the rural areas ( with special preference to poor, dalit, backward and abandoned women). Due to the provatisation and the entry of NGOs who set up large, mechanized, automated kitchens, each kitchen could cook for 100,000 children and this rendered thousands of women jobless.
The privatization of the mid day meal scheme sounded the death knell to thousands of families. In ,the rural areas, where employment or job opportunities are so few and far in between,. the women cooks dread the entry of Akshaya Patra. For them Akshaya Patra is the representative of Yamaraj, the Lord of death.
Women cooks take to streets in protest:
The women cooks have been protesting through various means - rallys, dharnas, indefinite protests, sit in protests and so on. The plight of these mid day meal workers who are under the threat of losing their jobs because of the entry of Akshaya Patra is truly pathetic. The women come from the most backward classes, they are among the most impoverished lot in the society and for them this job is the means to the only square meal in the day.
The other social cost of privatization of the mid day meal scheme:
How much pain has the Akshaya Patra caused in its blind pursuit of profits, cheap adoration and social prestige.
- Akshaya Patra has corrupted the entire mid day meal industry, the government agencies supervising the scheme by showing other NGOs the methodology to cheat the gullible public and fleece millions.
- The Akshaya Patra has institutionalized corruption, unethical practices through its single minded pursuit of profits.
- Akshaya Patra has hijacked and destroyed the social agenda of the mid day meal initiative. This program would have been an excellent social change agent by bringing several stake holders ( such as the parents, children, the local community, women, the government agencies etc) in the education process into a single platform.