28 November, 2020

A Dollop Of Dalia

Young MPs strive for a ladleful of help to underfed village kids

A Dollop Of Dalia
For anganwadi helper Munnibai of Neem Chandoba, an adivasi village in Gwalior district, it was a wake-up call. Literally. Napping at 11 am on the floor of the anganwadi centre, she was jolted awake by the voices of strangers. Among them were five MPs—Sachin Pilot and Prema Cariappa of the Congress, Shahnawaz Hussain of the BJP, Supriya Sule of the NCP and Jay Panda of the Biju Janata Dal. Also, singer Penaz Masani, actress Gauri Karnik, journalists and UNICEF officials. The "masterni" who ran the centre was missing, so were her supposed wards—60-odd children. The MPs, who looked at records and questioned the hapless helper and her fellow villagers—mostly landless members of the Sahariya tribe—found that kids hadn’t been immunised for the past year; that their weight records were missing, and four bulging sacks of dubious-looking snack food had been lying unopened for four weeks.

The faces of district health officials tailing the motley group grew longer and gloomier as this surprise visit to one of the country’s 7.8 lakh anganwadi...



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