Students Refuse Dalit Woman Cooked Meal: Why This Needs Attention

A district collector in Tamil Nadu had breakfast at a school after the majority of students skipped the meal provided under the Chief Minister’s breakfast scheme of the state government as it was cooked by a Dalit woman.

Kalyani Ganesan
Sep 07, 2023 15:28 IST
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A district collector in Tamil Nadu had breakfast at a school after the majority of students skipped the meal provided under the Chief Minister’s breakfast scheme of the state government as it was cooked by a Dalit woman.

Prabhushankar, the collector of Karur district, Tamil Nadu and other officials intervened after they were informed that only 12 out of 27 students of a panchayat union primary school at Velanchettiyur in the Aravakurichi block had breakfast at the school.

Students Refuse To Eat Meal Cooked By Dalit Woman

The parents of the children who skipped the meal initially claimed that the children had breakfast at home, and that’s why they didn’t eat. However, the truth was that the students belonged to the backward class and the most backward class, while the meal was cooked by a Dalit woman.


Despite the parents being counselled against caste discrimination, only two of the non-Dalit students had breakfast on August 29. On Tuesday, the district collector, along with Chief Educational Officer L. Sumathi, Revenue Divisional Officer F. Rubeena, and other senior officials, made a surprise visit to the school.

The district collector had the meal cooked by M. Sumathi, the Dalit woman who belongs to the Arunthathiyar community. The collector stated that there was no fault with the food. The parents didn’t want their children to eat the meal solely because it was cooked by a woman from the Dalit community. He strongly emphasised that discrimination of any form will not be allowed.

Where Does The Problem Lie?


It’s unbelievable to come across news of children in a primary school refusing to eat food because it was prepared by a woman from a different community. The amount of casteism and discriminatory beliefs that I've been ingrained in them at such a tender age is alarming and concerning. Is this the future that awaits, considering that children are the country's future?

Evidently, children aren't to blame in this situation. These children wouldn't have declined the meal if their parents and the society they grew up in had been inclusive of all people. According to the collector, who spoke exclusively to the Indian Express, one parent was against his children eating the meal prepared by a woman from a different community and was even prepared to move his kids to a different school. It is not surprising for children to act in such a way when their parents internalise such discriminatory ideologies.

However, it does raise crucial questions about the values and beliefs children are being raised with at home. Isn’t home supposed to be a place where children are taught to be inclusive, respectful, and compassionate towards fellow human beings? Isn’t it the responsibility of parents to raise their children with more humanity than anything else? Imagine the plight of a society that’s filled with apathetic and regressive people—that will push us centuries behind, and the progress that we’ve made so far would be rendered meaningless.


Students Internalised With Caste Bias Raises Concern

While one group of children is raised with high morals, values, and standards to foster an inclusive, empathetic, and respectful society and another group is embedded with regressive and discriminatory beliefs, won’t that pave the way for yet another generation of chaos and conflict in society? Is that what we want for our children—to waste their lives fighting over meaningless things?

It’s high time the millennials and Gen Z parents take up the responsibility to raise our children to become good human beings with understanding, empathy, respect, and compassion. Being the cycle-breaker generation, it’s up to us to make this society a better place for the future generation.


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Views expressed by the author are their own

#Tamil Nadu #Dalit Community #caste discrimination #Students Refuse To Eat Meal