AS part of ongoing year-long celebrations for the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi across the country, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has now issued orders for all states to organise Tithi Bhoj mid-day meal feast for children in government schools.
Tithi Bhojan is a concept of providing nutritious food with community participation. It encourages families and religious/charitable institutions to donate food on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and other
As per orders, the ministry wants local village residents and communities to contribute and organise a feast for kids to celebrate 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi. Following orders from MHRD, the state education department of Punjab too issued orders (dated October 12) to all schools to organise Tithi Bhoj for children on October 31. The school heads have to ensure that children are served some delicacies on October 31, not regular menu which they are served daily.
‘Tithi Bhoj ‘ be organised with the community participation on 31/10/2018 and 2/10/2019,’ say the orders.
Former HRD minister Smriti Irani had mooted the proposal to incorporate concept of Tithi Bhoj in mid-day meal in October 2014 and wanted other states to replicate Gujarat model, months after NDA government led by Narendra Modi came to power. Irani wanted all states in India to replicate Tithi Bhoj model of Gujarat where community participation is encouraged to serve food in schools. However, not many states had shown interest and it could not be implemented in all states.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Prabhcharan Singh, general manager, Mid-Day Meal Society, Department of Education, Punjab, said that concept of Tithi Bhoj was similar to concept of ‘langar’ in Punjab. “In both practices, community participation is encouraged. On special occasions, community members can contribute food for children’s mid-day meal in local government schools. However, this is the first time that MHRD has issued orders to organise Tithi Bhoj on two particular days as part of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations. It will be organised on October 31 this year and then October 2 (Gandhi Jayanti), 2019. We have ordered schools to implement it. They can either seek help of gurdwaras and local families to prepare feast for children or cook some delicacies in schools itself. Earlier too, when proposal was mooted in 2014 by former MHRD minister Smriti Irani, Punjab had no problem with it. In fact, we had even implemented it for few months and collected food materials from those who wanted to donate. But we do not collect any funds. Those who want to contribute can give food items only.”
He added that schools can organise Tithi Bhoj as per arrangements they have and there is no particular menu. “They can prepare some desserts like kheer, halwa, other sweets or serve chana-poori, halwa-puri or something which is not served as part of regular menu. We have not given specific menu items so that teachers are not troubled but Tithi Bhoj has to be organised on October 31 and children should be served a feast in memory of Mahatma Gandhi,”