Food, education, and aspirations: An intra-household narrative analysis of the mid-day meal scheme in India - DSPI Seminar 3

Hybrid Event

This paper uses narrative analysis to capture the perspectives of children and their families regarding the mid-day meal scheme (MDMS) in India, a program set to complete three decades in 2025. We reflect on the narratives of children and their families on food, nutrition, education, aspirations, and social mobility (with a particular focus on MDMS) to highlight the complicated interaction of individuals and households with social protection schemes.

We base our findings on primary semi-structured interview data with multiple members of 87 households in two states of India, Uttar Pradesh and Goa. These interviews were conducted between December 2022 and March 2023.

Observations from the field indicate that public perceptions of the MDMS extends beyond its role in achieving health and educational outcomes for its intended beneficiaries (in this case children). These perceptions are also intricately entwined with household aspirations, identities, and the desire for social mobility. Hence, the impact of MDMS goes beyond the realm of children’s lives.

Further, as individuals and households engage with the MDMS, their interactions and experiences are significantly influenced by their unique standpoint rooted in prevailing societal structures such as caste, class, religion, region, and gender. The varied experiences of our participants and the interpretations they associate with the MDMS highlight the need to account for such heterogeneities when developing social policies. In this paper we advocate for an interpretive approach to policy that relies on evidence firmly rooted in specific contexts. 

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