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MSSRF founder recalls MGR in context of noon meal programme in schools
Friday, 20 January, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Bengaluru
On the occasion of the 100th birth anniversary of the late M G Ramachandran, M S Swaminathan, founder, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) recalled his association with the actor-turned-politician, who was popularly known as MGR and served as Tamil Nadu’s chief minister, in the context of the universal noon meal programme in government and government-aided schools in the southern state.
“MGR was deeply concerned with issues relating to the education, nutrition and health of underprivileged children. During his second term as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu (1980-84), I was at the Union Planning Commission, first as acting deputy chairman and later member along with Manmohan Singh (who served as member–secretary) and Mohammed Fazal (Member),” he said.
“It was during that period that MGR rang me up and wanted the Planning Commission’s approval for the universal noon meal programme in government and government-aided schools. I fixed up a meeting in the Planning Commission to discuss the proposal,” Swaminathan added.
“He had told me that when he was young, he sometimes went to school hungry, and on those dates could not concentrate on what the teacher was saying. He said as chief minister, he had an opportunity to ensure that all children are able to concentrate on their studies by providing adequate nutrition,” he stated.
“I was very moved by his deep concern for equity in opportunities for children to study and specialise. The nutritious noon meal programme submitted by the chief minister was welcomed by the other members of the Planning Commission and was approved with great appreciation,” Swaminathan added.
“Tamil Nadu became the first state for such a visionary intervention in the integration of nutrition and education. Subsequent studies have shown that student enrollment has gone up, particularly from poorer families, as a result of the noon meal programme,” he said.
“In particular, more girls started going to school because of this initiative. Many of the students who came out from such schools performed exceedingly well academically. Thus, MGR’s initiative conferred multiple benefits, leading to education for all becoming a reality,” Swaminathan added.
MSSRF staff, scientists and scholars recalled the contributions of a great leader towards equity in the state, especially for education of the underprivileged.
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