“If we can conquer space, we can conquer childhood hunger“. Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje, who’s known for her imperiousness, effectively proves it with her ambitious scheme Annapurna Rasoi yojana. Along the pattern of J. Jayalalithaa’s subsidized ‘Amma canteens’, Raje government launched its very own ‘Rajasthani’ brand of reasonably priced kitchens for the poor– where a single meal costs from Rs 5 to Rs 8 per plate, in the last quarter of 2016.
Rajasthan being one of the major tourist destinations of India, takes great pride in its vivid food culture. Despite the availability of a plethora of readymade streetfood choices, why did the government launch Annapurna Rasoi scheme?
The Heavily Subsidized Annapurna Rasois Serve Meals that are Four Times Cheaper
It’s because of the incoming labour class that flock in Rajasthan, in search of work. Gradually, with the changing times, Rajasthan has emerged as a potential performer in key sectors like agriculture, milk production, animal husbandry, business, manufacturing and education. Consequently, a number of migrants from other states like Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh etc. arrive in Rajasthan for better food prospects. This elevates burden on the existing food productivity of the state.
Besides, people in Rajasthan have a tendency to work hard because the cost of labours are relatively higher than other economically backward or highly populated states in India. The CM herself believes that it’s impossible to work hard on an empty stomach. Probably that’s why the government laid special emphasis on serving hot, clean and hygienic meals at nominal prices. This was the prime objective behind launching Annapurna Rasoi in Rajasthan.
Since variety is the spice of life and Rajasthan is known for its exquisite diversity, the government added meals that were unique to the state. Annapurna Rasoi menu features nutritious delicacies made of corn, wheat, rice, grains and local vegetables. Rajasthani staples like:
- Besan Gatta curry,
- Gehu ka Mitha Khichda,
- Baajre ki Khichdi, Dal Dhokli,
- Baaje ki Khichdi, etc. are a part of daily meals.
Presently, 80 Annapurna Rasoi mobile vans are on the run in 12 districts of Rajasthan. 5 fully functional Annapurna vans in Jaipur are available near SMS hospital, Sodal, Gurjar ki Thadi and other such areas with high footfall. Each van has 4 members, including supervisor, helper and the cooks. A public trust bears the responsibility of maintaining these mobile kitchens. The government is in the process of launching 25 such vans in Jaipur by the year end.
As per Estimates, 200 fully-operational Annapurna Rasoi vans will Put an Additional Burden of Rs 50 Crore on the State
As the state continues to enjoy free meals, the state is struggling to provide healthy meals within the budget. Currently, the Annapurna mobile kitchens serve breakfast at Rs 5 and Lunch/Dinner at Rs 8 per plate, whereas the actual cost of the breakfast is Rs 21.70/plate. Lunch and dinner costs Rs 23.70/plate. In short, the government pays Rs. 16.70 (per plate for breakfast) and Rs 15.70 (per plate for lunch or dinner).
As of now, about 1,500 people in Jaipur get benefited from nutritious meals served at Annapurna Rasois. Getting as many people as possible in front of the plates is a tough task for the government. Apart from Jaipur, the vans are currently serving Ajmer, Jodhpur, Kota, Jhalarapatan-Jhalawar, Bharatpur, Udaipur, Baran, Pratapgarh, Banswara and Dungarpur.
Sponsor a Meal to Make them Smile
Before 2020, the government aims to launch 300 Annapurna vans in different cities. Initially, Rs 14 crores were sanctioned as the Annapurna Rasoi budget. Nevertheless, launching the scheme elsewhere will cause additional pressure on the state exchequer.
To cope with the problem, Raje government came up with the idea of sponsoring meals at the Annapurna Rasois. According to the DLB (Directorate of Local Bodies) officers, the government will invite people to sponsor Annapurna meals, a strategy that will help the kitchens surpass their limit of serving 100 meals in a slot.
Currently, the authorities are in the process of setting up a new website and toll-free number. A separate bank account will be opened for public transactions. Manjeet Singh, Principal Secretary of LSG (Local Self Governance) believes that this way, people can dedicate meals for special occasions like birthdays, death anniversaries and religious celebrations.
With this, the fate of the ambitious Annapurna Rasoi Yojana is quite clear. As strugglers struggle with daily wages, the government tries to ease this burden. So, yes, all these efforts are worth a million dollar smile that adorns several satisfied faces.