'If you cannot feed the body of a child you cannot feed the brain' : education and nutrition in late colonial Madras

Ellis, Catriona (2021) 'If you cannot feed the body of a child you cannot feed the brain' : education and nutrition in late colonial Madras. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 44 (1). pp. 135-151.

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    Abstract

    In 1925 the Madras Municipal Corporation introduced an innovative scheme to provide free midday meals for poor schoolchildren in the city. These meals were designed to both improve the physical health of the schoolchildren and contribute to their educational attainments. This paper examines the advice of nutritional experts at the Coonoor Centre for Nutritional Research and the new scientific emphasis on diet and malnutrition in South India. It then considers the debates among the corporation's elected councillors regarding the particular nutritional needs of the Indian schoolchild. These negotiations contributed to wider debates about nutrition and colonial science and reflected changing discourses surrounding the relationship between the state, experts and parents. Although the scheme was limited in funds and in scale, I suggest that the political commitment to feeding hungry children was a significant departure in the history of children and the Indian welfare state.