23 Little Lives - India's Poisoned Children

2013, Society  -   14 Comments
Ratings: 8.36/10 from 50 users.

The school lunch program in India started in 2005. India's Supreme Court decided that every child in every government primary school should receive a lunch. So every school day, 120 million Indian children receive a midday meal. And for children in Bihar, one of the poorest corners in India, it could be their only meal of the day.

This course of action partially addresses the problem of malnutrition and this plan has provided increased attendance and retention of kids in schools. It's a simple routine where teachers conduct a taste test, then lunch is served and the children start to eat.

In a society afflicted by caste bias, the lunch is a great equalizer. Children from all social classes eat together. They have some assortment (rice and vegetables) and they wait for the food with enthusiasm. It's the world's largest public food aid program that tries to fight famine and malnourishment. It should have been India's pride, but instead, oddly and instantly, killed 23 children.

On Wednesday, July 17 2013, ambulances were speeding through the streets, trying to get to the Patna Medical Centre Hospital. And soon, heart-wrenching images of severely ill children appeared around the world. By the time they'd got from their distant village for diagnosis and medical care it would be 12 hours since they ate their midday meal and became alarmingly sick.

This was one of the most terrifying experiences for the doctors because they were never involved in such a situation. Four of the children that they received were already dead. In the middle of these turbulent scenes, questions were being asked and answers were expected. Why was this school lunch lethal? How did it happen and who was to blame?

Something wrong has happened with the food. Is it a conspiracy, is it an accident? Adequate treatment was given to these children, but mystery encircles the incident. Rumor and conspiracy theories are proliferated on a daily basis.

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14 Comments / User Reviews

  1. lpen7

    Utterly tragic. My western "eyes" see many things criminal in what happened and in what's going on there. I am sure there is blame to share and that we'll never truly know the truth.

  2. dawn

    Heartbreaking, this was very hard to watch

  3. Rev Coughlin

    I wonder why Ashu was buried. Was it a financial issue (not enough money for a pyre) or is burial the custom for their caste?

  4. Demo

    My honest opinion - IT IS NO CONSPIRACY
    It is the result of some greedy contractors, who tried to make a little bit more profit from the food they supplied by compensating 'quality'.

  5. Arda Bayraktar

    It is just a horrible thing in Indıa in every second thousand of children dies because of starvation it is a really terrible thing to see

    1. seamus oflaherty

      yes as much as poverty is unneccaserry india which has the highest infant mortality rate due to malnutrition takes a back seat to other countries

  6. Julie VanBerkel

    Heartbreaking, utterly heartbreaking.

  7. Raul

    India is not the poorest country it is the one of fastest developing country Cause of few ministers the people are paying the price. They are more concern about their own Pocket apart from usin it on the things which are needed the most.

    1. seamus oflaherty

      pooret is not the issue tree stump,in the urban areas of india yes they are coming on,but how many tens of millions live in dire poverty,nobb end.


    What is really shock me why a 35 year old women have to have 12 children in the poorest Country in the World those children are starving and now 2 poisoned in the shool this is bizarre and I' can't see any reason for it. and the Goverment is the one who's doing this even more bizarre I' think this is the way to try to control the population

    1. a_no_n

      because statistically speaking most of them are going to die.
      The more children you have in a situation like that, the more likely at least one of them is to survive.

      We see the reverse in developed countries because infant mortality is rare, so people have less children because the ones they have are practically guaranteed to see adulthood...in India's poor regions not so much.

      You can't see the reason for it because you live a completely different life, and if this shocks you it might be safe to say a sheltered one.

  9. hdesousa

    Poisoning is common in India, but this account is superb as it
    illustrates, in a brief documentary, the complex issues involved in
    resolving what is probably a relatively straightforward tragic
    accident. Great photography. I'm impressed how small a carbon
    footprint life in rural India makes e.g. no disposable plates, drink
    containers nor wasted food at lunch.

  10. oQ

    Horrible tragedy. I am speechless.

  11. oQ

    The beginning advertisement was not cut off.