In what can only be described as abominable behaviour on the part of the Karnataka government, MyNation has reported that the Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka has asked ISKCON’s Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO that provides midday meal to 4.43 lakh children every day in the state to add onion and garlic in the food that it serves. It is important to mention here that these two ingredients are against the religious beliefs of the aforementioned organisation. According to the beliefs of the Akshay Patra foundation, only satvik (pure) food is to be prepared and served. Onion and garlic are not considered satvik as per the foundation. It is considered tamasic and this is why the foundation does not include these ingredients in the meals served to children in the state.
It is, therefore, atrocious and insensitive on the part of the Kumaraswamy government to make such an unreasonable demand to the Akshay Patra foundation. The reason that has been given for this demand is both outrageous and bizarre. The state government believes that these two ingredients will significantly enhance the nutritional value and taste of the meals that will be served to the children. However, it seems like an absurd theory that only onion and garlic can enhance the nutritional value of a meal.
MR Maruti, joint director of Karnataka’s midday meal scheme reportedly told, “Including onion and garlic not just adds nutrition, but also improves the taste. Considering this, we asked the foundation to follow the state menu, but they have not yet replied to our letter.” It is absurd that the state government feels that the taste of the meal is more important than the religious sentiments of the foundation that provides meals to such a high number of children every day in the state. This does not only show insensitivity on the part of the state government but also exposes absolute intolerance towards religious beliefs and views of the Akshay Patra foundation.
It seems that this arbitrary, unreasonable and capricious order by the Kumaraswamy government has not gone down well with the foundation. In fact, as per, DNA, the foundation has discontinued its association with the Karnataka government for the midday meal scheme and has refused to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU). In a detailed statement, it stated, “We would like to clarify that our freshly-cooked meals are in compliance with the nutrition norms prescribed by the MHRD and government of Karnataka. It is our constant endeavour to contribute to the government’s efforts in promoting good health and nutrition among children which is essential for their holistic growth and development.” If what the foundation has stated is to be believed, the meals served by the foundation must have been up to the mark. One, therefore, fails to understand why the Kumaraswamy government imposed this unreasonable demand on the foundation. It is clear that the Karnataka government has unnecessarily created a controversy on account of its irresponsible and unjust behaviour.
This fascist demand on the part of the Karnataka government has also put at risk the meals of 4.43 lakh children whom the Akshay Patra foundation serves everyday. Kumaraswamy government will be solely responsible if any of these children were to lose out on their daily meals.