Recently the Government of India launched a scheme where the community will participate in a mid-day meal (MDM) scheme. Though it is a great initiative, the name of the scheme is creating a buzz over social media platforms.
The scheme named ‘Tithi Bhojan’ has created much controversy. In North India, the word Tithi refers to dates or anniversaries such as childbirth, marriage, birthdays, success in exams, festivals etc. It is inspired by the existing tradition of offering food to children (Girl students, especially in Navaratri) on auspicious days, anniversaries etc. The Government has said, that the scheme intends to cultivate the existing customs into a healthy tradition of community participation.
However, the word ‘Tithi Bhojan’ has a completely different meaning in South India. In the south, the Tithi Bhojan means the food offered on the death anniversary, and the scheme so-named has offended many south Indians.
Nonetheless, the scheme has been initiated with good objectives like to improve nutrition level among school children, retention of the children in the primary schools and promote the sense of belonging among the community.
Tithi Bhojan is the combined efforts of the teachers, MDM organisers and community leaders which allows supplementation of the nutritional value of MDM, development of rapport with the local community, inculcate the feeling of equity and brotherhood among the children of all communities, and works in reducing the gap between the school administration and the community.
Definitely, the initiative must be welcomed by the community but the ‘One nation, one language’ has created controversy over the name of the scheme. India believes in unity in diversity, where all the languages have equal status.
Different languages and cultures are the real beauty of India, where each of them deserves equal respect and treatment. While naming a national level scheme the Government should have acted in a sensitive manner and should have reconsidered the name that has a similar meaning in both the south and north Indian languages. However, all we can say is, in the wake of ‘One nation, one language’ such controversies are inevitable.