Alimentar as mentes jovens

NOVA DELI – Das muitas notícias tristes surgidas recentemente da Índia, a mais triste desde há longo tempo refere-se às mortes de 23 crianças em idade escolar, que tiveram lugar em Julho, em Chhapra, a principal cidade da depauperada região rural de Saran, no estado de Bihar. As crianças foram envenenadas por alimentos que ingeriram durante o almoço – que é parte vital de um programa estatal de alimentação nas escolas - que, aparentemente foram cozinhados em óleo que fora descuidadamente guardado em recipientes usados de pesticidas. O horror absoluto - dos pais que vêem os seus filhos ir para a escola em segurança, para depois ali morrerem devido a algo que é suposto beneficiá-los - é insuportável.

As reacções foram as previsíveis lamentações a respeito da ineficácia dos serviços governamentais indianos (particularmente nas zonas rurais), das normas de higiene lamentáveis existentes no país e da implementação descuidada até mesmo de programas nacionais exemplares por parte dos governos dos 28 estados do país. O próprio programa de refeições escolares foi descartado na Índia e no exterior, por ser considerado um desperdício e contraproducente. "As refeições escolares gratuitas matam crianças na Índia", afirmava um dos títulos da imprensa. Outro comentador foi mesmo ao ponto de alegar que existem "poucas evidências que possam sugerir que os alunos obtêm algum valor nutricional a partir dessas refeições."

Os críticos do programa consideram-no um sintoma do total descontrolo governamental e questionam por que razão será necessário que os governos alimentem as crianças das escolas. Na Índia a resposta a esta questão é o facto de mais ninguém ter capacidade para o fazer. Há 30 anos, época em que existia um conjunto de pequenos programas de refeições escolares, surgiu, no estado de Tamil Nadu, a ideia de criar um programa em grande escala, apoiado pelo governo.

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