Sri MGR Year 98, 2nd September, Wednesday
This is the new series that I am going to write about MGR, the challenges he had faced during his career as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. If someone is asked him or her to point out the achievements of our Puratchi Thalaivar as a Chief Minister to the state, the answer most likely is “Nutritious Meal Programme”.
This is the detailed information about the programme, the hurdles MGR faced during the time, the budget involved and also the statistics of the school children in the year 1982.
The nutritious meal programme evolved from MGR’s childhood day poverty, the sufferings he and his brother had faced. Recently MGR’s bodyguard K.P.Ramakrishnan article about the Nutritious programme beginning was sent by his son R.Govindaraj. Below is the article.
Click the above image to enlarge
In 1982 the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MGR announced the Nutritious programme to be implemented from Village to Towns. The date of the inauguration is 1st July 1982. The Government took account of children and the record was given to our MGR. He divided the children into three categories: from age 2 to 4, from age 5 to 9 and age 10 to 14. The highest number of children studying are in the age group of 2 to 4 and 5 to 9. The dropouts is staggering when the students reach age 10. The reason for such huge dropouts is due to economic problem, the children after receiving basic education by 10 years, their parents make them as workers, so that their family economy problem is solved.
To decrease the dropouts and keeping in mind the nutrition needed MGR implemented his dream project. The budget worked out to Rs.100 Crores (in 1982). The Government is not in the state to take that burden, the higher officials firmly objected. But MGR did not heed to their advices and the programme is put into effect, the rest is history.
16,93,576 children belonging to age group of 2 to 4 years are nourished by Nutritious meal programme and it is funded by the Governments Social Welfare Department. The remaining groups, Government of Tamil Nadu’s Educational Department funded 35,99,198 children from the age group of 5 to 9 years and 97,212 children belonging to the age group of 10 to 14 years. Not only this programme increased the strength of school going children but also 76,000 unemployed youths, destitute ladies and widows were given jobs.
Chief Minister MGR checking the quality of the food which has to be served to the children
Before implementing MGR asked the help of the people through the media like Radio and Television. On 30.6.1982 by 7 pm his speech was broadcasted on Radio and by 8.15 pm in Television. I vaguely remember his speech, those days we did not had TV and I saw this broadcast in my relatives house.
On the inauguration day that is 1st July 1982, MGR went to a School in Pappakuruchi village which is situated in Thiruverumbur taluk, Thiruchirapalli district.
Second phase of implementation of Nutritious programme in towns 15.9.1982
The opposition party, DMK pelted with words that MGR is making the people of Tamil Nadu as beggars and some of his party members tried their level best to molest the immaculate project by spreading rumours and raising doubts about the quality of the food etc. To counter, MGR created a high level committee to monitor the operation. The committee did the duty, the challenges was successfully encountered by MGR.
Even after his death the programme endured, when his rival came to power he continued by giving an egg as a supplement. The free child nutritious meal programme is named after MGR and called as Puratchi Thalaivar MGR Nutritious Meal Programme.