Alimentar las mentes jóvenes

NUEVA DELHI – De las muchas noticias tristes que han surgido de la India últimamente, con diferencia la más trágica ha sido la muerte en julio de 23 escolares en Chhapra, la principal ciudad de Saran, un empobrecido distrito rural del estado de Bihar. Murieron envenenados por sus raciones de almuerzo, parte esencial de un programa estatal de nutrición escolar que, al parecer, habían sido cocinadas con aceite que se había guardado por descuido en recipientes de pesticidas. Es insoportable el horror de la situación: padres que envían a sus hijos a la escuela, un lugar supuestamente seguro, solo para recibirlos muertos por algo que se supone los tendría que beneficiar.

Como era de prever, la reacción fue una explosión de quejas sobre la ineficacia de los servicios estatales de la India (especialmente en áreas rurales), los terribles estándares de higiene del país y el poco cuidado en la aplicación de incluso los planes nacionales más representativos por parte de los 28 gobiernos estatales. El plan de almuerzos mismo ha sido tachado en la India y en el exterior como derrochador y contraproducente. En un titular se leía: “La escuela pública asesina a los niños indios”. Otro comentarista llegó a decir que “existen pocas evidencias de que los niños realmente reciban en las escuelas algún valor nutricional”.

Quienes critican el plan lo ven como un síntoma de un estado sobredimensionado que ha perdido los límites y se preguntan por qué es necesario que un gobierno se haga cargo de alimentar a sus escolares. En la India la respuesta es que nadie más podría hacerlo. Si bien ya existían varios pequeños programas de almuerzos, la idea de un programa masivo y respaldado por el gobierno surgió hace tres décadas en el estado sureño de Tamil Nadu.

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