• Fifth world Tamil conference in Madurai in 1981
  • Krishna Water Project
  • Mid-day Meal Scheme
  • Thanjavur Tamil University
  • Mother Teresa Women’s University

    Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Dr.M G Ramachandran during the launch of the Chief Minister's Free Noon Meal Scheme for School Children 
    Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Dr.M G Ramachandran during the launch of the Chief Minister's Free Noon Meal Scheme for School Children

    Mid-day Meal Scheme

    The Mid-day Meal Scheme is the popular name for school meal programme in India which started in the 1960s.It involves provision of lunch free of cost to school-children on all working days. The key objectives of the programme are: protecting children from classroom hunger,increasing school enrolment and attendance, improved socialisation among children belonging to all castes, addressing malnutrition, and social empowerment through provision of employment to women. The scheme has a long history especially in the state of Tamil Nadu introduced statewide by the then Chief Minister K. Kamaraj in 1960s and later expanded by M. G. Ramachandran government in 1982 has been adopted by most of the states in India after a landmark direction by the Supreme Court of India on November 28, 2001. The success of this scheme is illustrated by the tremendous increase in the school participation and completion rates in the state of Tamil Nadu.
    12 crore (120 million) children are so far covered under the Mid-day Meal Scheme, which is the largest school lunch programme in the world. Allocation for this programme has been enhanced from Rs 3010 crore to Rs 4813 crore (Rs 48 billion 1.3 million) in 2006-2007.


    One of the pioneers of the scheme is the Madras Presidency that started providing cooked meals to children in corporation schools in the Madras city in 1923. The programme was introduced in a large scale in 1960s under the Chief Ministership of K. Kamaraj. However, the first major thrust came in 1982 when the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Dr. M. G. Ramachandran, decided to universalise the scheme for all children in government schools in primary classes. Later the programme was expanded to cover all children up to class 10. Tamil Nadu’s mid-day meal programme is among the best known in the country.
    There is an interesting story about how K. Kamaraj got the idea of a noon meal scheme. The spark is said to have occurred in a small village (now a town) called Cheranmahadevi in Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu. K Kamaraj was a very simple person who used to travel in his car (even without the red lamp at the top) and was not accustomed to convoys.
    On one such journey, he had to stop at the railway intersection in Cheranmahadevi and got out of the car and waited. He saw a few boys busy with their cows and goats. The Chief Minister had asked one small boy, "What are you doing with this cows? Why didn't you go to school?" The boy immediately answered, "If I go to school, will you give me food to eat? I can learn only if I eat." The boy's retort sparked the entire process into establishing the mid-day meal programme.
    Kerala has computerized the Mid-day Meal Scheme in schools. All the dealings are made online and the accounting become accurate.
    Several other states of India also have had mid-day meal programmes. The most notable among them is Gujarat that has had it since the late 1980s. Kerala started providing cooked meals in schools since 1995 and so did Madhya Pradesh and Orissa in small pockets. On November 28, 2001 the Supreme Court of India gave a landmark direction, which made it obligatory for the government to provide cooked meals to all children in all government and government assisted primary schools. The direction was resisted vigorously by State governments initially, but the programme has become almost universal by 2005.