India

Indian state of Madhya Pradesh bans eggs in free meals

An egg carton (August 2010) Image copyright AFP

The chief minister of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has refused to allow eggs to be included in free meals for malnourished children reportedly because of his belief in vegetarianism.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan is said to agree with the Jain religious community, who believe eggs can harm children.

However, no direct explanation has been given for his decision, which has been strongly condemned by food campaigners.

They stress that more than half the state's children are malnourished.

Eggs, they point out, have high protein levels that are easily digested by acutely malnourished children.

Campaigners say that the state also has a high number of malnourished indigenous people who would also benefit from free eggs.

"The problem is that the upper-caste groups who are opposed to eggs in nutrition schemes are not the people who would ever need to avail of these schemes, but they are the ones who influence government policies based on their religious ideologies," food activist Sachin Jain was quoted by Scroll.In as saying.

"The communities who benefit from nutrition schemes don't share these ideologies," he said. "Meanwhile, those who are well-off don't even take any responsibility to tackle malnutrition in the state."

Madhya Pradesh is the latest of several states in India to ban eggs from free meals.

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