Fighting hunger

Seven reasons why India needs eggs on the menu of midday meals

They're very nutritious, have a relative long shelf-life and could boost rural employment.

Last week, the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan rejected a proposal to introduce eggs on the menu of the Integrated Child Development Services scheme – even just on a trial basis in three tribal districts. This short primer responds to some of the questions being asked about whether and why we need eggs on the menu of two government programmes for child nutrition: the mid-day meal scheme and anganwadis (for pre-school children under the age of six).

1. Eggs are among the most nutritious food items
Here’s a comparison of the nutritive content of eggs and some vegetarian options of roughly similar cost. Need one say more?

One serving provides…

Source: % refers to recommended daily allowance met.

Note: Eggs are sometimes criticised for their fat content, but most young children in India need more fat. Aside from helping to raise calorie intake and facilitating the absorption of other nutrients, fat is important in its own right, for brain development, for example.

One more thing: though some vegetarian options can match eggs in protein content (for example, soya chunks) or calcium (for example, milk), there are none where all nutrients (vitamin A, iron, calcium and fat) are available from a single source.

If you’re still unconvinced, read Rohini Mohan’s piece in the Economic Times in which she talks to various experts or watch this episode of The Big Picture, where clinical nutritionist Ishi Khosla explains this in greater detail.

2. Other arguments in favour of eggs
Consider the following advantages of eggs: they have a longer shelf-life than milk or bananas. In rural areas, with decentralised kitchens and where refrigeration facilities are non-existent, this is a pretty useful thing. Eggs cannot be diluted or adulterated like milk or dals. Equally important, as Arti Ahuja (the IAS officer who brought the Integrated Child Development Services  to life in Odisha) pointed out, provision of eggs can be monitored easily. Even a child can tell you whether she got her full quota of eggs, so corruption is easier to control. Finally, eggs are hugely popular among school and anganwadi children. For instance, watch this video clip from a government school in Shimoga.

3. Indian children are undernourished and food intake is very poor
The last reliable all-India nutrition data dates back to 2005-'06. According to the third National Family Health Survey, every second child under the age of three is undernourished. This is relatively well known now. However, few people realise how poor dietary intake in India is. Among children aged 6 months-23 months (for whom breastmilk is to be supplemented with semi-solid foods), the National Family Health Survey finds, less than 15% consume milk products (such as yoghurt), or meat or eggs, or pulses on an average day (see table below). In the same age group, among those children who were no longer being breastfed, the numbers are slightly better but still under 20%.

Consumption of nutritious food by children aged 6 months-23 months the day or night before the NFHS (2005-'06) survey.

Source: Table 10.9, p. 283, National Family Health Survey India report.

4. A large majority of Indians are non-vegetarian: There is a widely held belief that a majority of Indians are vegetarians. However, as this article by Yogendra Yadav and Sanjay Kumar shows, “pure vegetarians” are a minority, only in one-fifth families were all members vegetarians. Nine percent were vegetarians who ate eggs. Nearly 70% families were non-vegetarians. According to the same survey, even in Madhya Pradesh, where the proportion of vegetarians is high, it is only 35%. Finally, there is the question of whether eggs are vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

5. Quite likely, some people are vegetarians out of compulsion rather than choice
Sometimes data on low consumption of non-vegetarian food (eggs, meat, fish, poultry) is interpreted as evidence of vegetarianism in India. In fact, this is likely a reflection, not of choice but compulsion. For instance, Rukmini S shows that monthly consumption of eggs is closely associated with income levels. This strengthens the argument for provision of more nutritious food through government programmes. Given that it is largely poorer children who enrol at government schools, the programme has an element of self-targeting.

6. Making a case for eggs, does not mean one is a meat-fundamentalists
One must recognise that the problem is not just the absence of eggs from the menu at schools and anganwadis. The menu is woefully lacking even in nutritious vegetarian options (such as milk, soyabean, bananas) in many states. Here is a beautiful photo-essay of school meals around the world. Many egg-resisters shout loudly about nutritious vegetarian substitutes for eggs, but fail to mention that in fact many northern and western states provide none of these. In any case, even if eggs are served, vegetarian options are (and ought to be) available for those who don’t want eggs.

7. Thinking about animal rights
Some groups have been opposing eggs as they are concerned about animal rights, especially the inhuman conditions in which chicken are reared. In fact, the same concern applies to milk too – calves are separated too early from their mothers, cows are given oxytocin injections and subjected to painful milking. The solution is not to stop consuming these items, but rather thinking about ethical solutions. For example, eggs could be procured from local women who rear free-range chicken on a small scale. That would even create employment opportunities for such women. In any case, as mentioned earlier, there is no compulsion as far as consumption of eggs is concerned.

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Behind the garb of wealth and success, white collar criminals are hiding in plain sight

Understanding the forces that motivate leaders to become fraudsters.

Most con artists are very easy to like; the ones that belong to the corporate society, even more so. The Jordan Belforts of the world are confident, sharp and can smooth-talk their way into convincing people to bend at their will. For years, Harshad Mehta, a practiced con-artist, employed all-of-the-above to earn the sobriquet “big bull” on Dalaal Street. In 1992, the stockbroker used the pump and dump technique, explained later, to falsely inflate the Sensex from 1,194 points to 4,467. It was only after the scam that journalist Sucheta Dalal, acting on a tip-off, broke the story exposing how he fraudulently dipped into the banking system to finance a boom that manipulated the stock market.


In her book ‘The confidence game’, Maria Konnikova observes that con artists are expert storytellers - “When a story is plausible, we often assume it’s true.” Harshad Mehta’s story was an endearing rags-to-riches tale in which an insurance agent turned stockbroker flourished based on his skill and knowledge of the market. For years, he gave hope to marketmen that they too could one day live in a 15,000 sq.ft. posh apartment with a swimming pool in upmarket Worli.

One such marketman was Ketan Parekh who took over Dalaal Street after the arrest of Harshad Mehta. Ketan Parekh kept a low profile and broke character only to celebrate milestones such as reaching Rs. 100 crore in net worth, for which he threw a lavish bash with a star-studded guest-list to show off his wealth and connections. Ketan Parekh, a trainee in Harshad Mehta’s company, used the same infamous pump-and-dump scheme to make his riches. In that, he first used false bank documents to buy high stakes in shares that would inflate the stock prices of certain companies. The rise in stock prices lured in other institutional investors, further increasing the price of the stock. Once the price was high, Ketan dumped these stocks making huge profits and causing the stock market to take a tumble since it was propped up on misleading share prices. Ketan Parekh was later implicated in the 2001 securities scam and is serving a 14-years SEBI ban. The tactics employed by Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were similar, in that they found a loophole in the system and took advantage of it to accumulate an obscene amount of wealth.


Call it greed, addiction or smarts, the 1992 and 2001 Securities Scams, for the first time, revealed the magnitude of white collar crimes in India. To fill the gaps exposed through these scams, the Securities Laws Act 1995 widened SEBI’s jurisdiction and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds and credit-rating agencies. SEBI further received greater autonomy to penalise capital market violations with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.

Despite an empowered regulatory body, the next white-collar crime struck India’s capital market with a massive blow. In a confession letter, Ramalinga Raju, ex-chairman of Satyam Computers convicted of criminal conspiracy and financial fraud, disclosed that Satyam’s balance sheets were cooked up to show an excess of revenues amounting to Rs. 7,000 crore. This accounting fraud allowed the chairman to keep the share prices of the company high. The deception, once revealed to unsuspecting board members and shareholders, made the company’s stock prices crash, with the investors losing as much as Rs. 14,000 crores. The crash of India’s fourth largest software services company is often likened to the bankruptcy of Enron - both companies achieved dizzying heights but collapsed to the ground taking their shareholders with them. Ramalinga Raju wrote in his letter “it was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”, implying that even after the realisation of consequences of the crime, it was impossible for him to rectify it.

It is theorised that white-collar crimes like these are highly rationalised. The motivation for the crime can be linked to the strain theory developed by Robert K Merton who stated that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (the importance of money, social status etc.). Not having the means to achieve those goals leads individuals to commit crimes.

Take the case of the executive who spent nine years in McKinsey as managing director and thereafter on the corporate and non-profit boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Harvard Business School. Rajat Gupta was a figure of success. Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy added an additional layer of credibility to his image. He created the American India Foundation which brought in millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions from NRIs to development programs across the country. Rajat Gupta’s descent started during the investigation on Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan hedge fund manager accused of insider trading. Convicted for leaking confidential information about Warren Buffet’s sizeable investment plans for Goldman Sachs to Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. Safe to say, Mr. Gupta’s philanthropic work did not sway the jury.


The people discussed above have one thing in common - each one of them was well respected and celebrated for their industry prowess and social standing, but got sucked down a path of non-violent crime. The question remains - Why are individuals at successful positions willing to risk it all? The book Why They Do It: Inside the mind of the White-Collar Criminal based on a research by Eugene Soltes reveals a startling insight. Soltes spoke to fifty white collar criminals to understand their motivations behind the crimes. Like most of us, Soltes expected the workings of a calculated and greedy mind behind the crimes, something that could separate them from regular people. However, the results were surprisingly unnerving. According to the research, most of the executives who committed crimes made decisions the way we all do–on the basis of their intuitions and gut feelings. They often didn’t realise the consequences of their action and got caught in the flow of making more money.


The arena of white collar crimes is full of commanding players with large and complex personalities. Billions, starring Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti, captures the undercurrents of Wall Street and delivers a high-octane ‘ruthless attorney vs wealthy kingpin’ drama. The show looks at the fine line between success and fraud in the stock market. Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund kingpin, skilfully walks on this fine line like a tightrope walker, making it difficult for Chuck Rhoades, a US attorney, to build a case against him.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.