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Egg War: Why India’s Vegetarian Elite Are Accused Of Keeping Kids Hungry

According to this fascinating story I read – India is in the midst of a war of sorts — a war over eggs. To eat them, or not to eat them. Actually, it’s more about whether the government should give free eggs to poor, malnourished children.

According to this story , Shivraj Chouhan, the chief minister of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, shot down a proposal to serve eggs in government-run day care centers (anganwadis) in some tribal areas. His  opposition to eggs stems from the local community of Jains, which is strictly vegetarian and also “powerful in the state”. He  is an upper caste Hindu man who recently became a vegetarian.

While these states as a whole may be mostly vegetarian, the poorest — and most malnourished — Indians generally are not”, says Dipa Sinha. “They would eat eggs, if only they could afford them”. Dipa Sinha is an economist at the Center for Equity Studies in New Delhi and an expert on India’s preschool and school feeding programs.

She goes on to say that the assumption that Indians are largely vegetarian doesn’t hold up against data. A 2006 survey by the Delhi-based Center for the Study of Developing Societies found that more than 50 percent of Indians are in fact non-vegetarian. According to her, vegetarianism is often limited to privileged, upper caste Hindu communities and religions, like Jainism.Most underprivileged Indians, on the other hand, including Dalits and tribal communities, are non-vegetarians and that  is why public health policy experts and right-to-food activists are trying to introduce eggs into government schools and day cares.Eggs are also an easy way to provide much-needed protein and fat to malnourished children, says Sachin Jain, a food rights activist.

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