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Policies and their Implementation


Kumar Rana

SCHOOL HEALTH SERVICES IN INDIA: THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONTEXTS
Edited by Rama V. Baru
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2008, pp. ix 206, Rs. 550.00

VOLUME XXXIII NUMBER 6 June 2009

Health, nutrition and education are interrelated in such a manner that one cannot really afford to deal with them separately. Unfortunately, our public policy has often tended to undermine this interrelationship where deficiency on one count leads to deprivation on the other. The reflection of this tilted priority is most conspicuous in the schools, the most desired area for implementing a synergic policy. It is probably not the ignorance of our policy makers that led to the absence of a synergic approach towards the delivery of schooling. Rather, it is quite possible that it is the class bias in govern-mentality that has resulted in neglecting the whole of the schooling system which, as a general case, are attended by the poor. For example, as Rama V. Baru tells us, in her essay, ‘School Health Services in India’, in the book under review, ‘As early as 1909, the princely state of Baroda initiated medical inspection in schools and several other states and provinces . . . did the same through the first half of the twentieth century at the primary and secondary levels’ (p. 145). However, the long history of the school health services could not protect the programme from the governmental malaise of lower fund allocation, inadequacy in terms of human resources and above all poor implementation, as we read in Baru’s essay. Similarly, despite the recognition of nutritional deficiency among school children and the need for launching a cooked Mid-Day Meal programme it took many years after Independence just to formulate such a nationwide programme (Nutritional support to Primary Education, 1995). Then it took another half decade and a wake up call by the Supreme Court of India following a writ petition by the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan branch, to actually start implementing the programme.   Baru’s volume attempts to bring ‘together articles on various components of school health in India that includes the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDM Scheme), School Health services and School Health education’. But, the editor is only partially successful in her attempt. The three essays on mid-day meal (Jean Dreze and Aparajita Goel’s, ‘The Future of Mid-Day Meals’, Reetika Khera’s ‘Mid-Day Meals in Primary Schools: Achievements and Challenges’ and Meera Samson, Clair Noronha and Anuradha De’s ‘Towards More Benefits from Delhi’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme’) put forward the urgency and relevance of the programme on the one hand and the possibility of its much ...


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