Karnataka government shelves Aiyya canteen initiative

Currently Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments are at loggerheads with each other.  However, it is not as bad as one is still taking ideas from each other.

Any success at political level leads to many copy cat versions. Amma canteens started by Tamil Nadu Govt is one such measure. Keeping economics aside, it is seen as a huge political success.

Taking a cue, Karnataka govt also planned to launch its version of Aiyya canteens. The plan is shelved as of now:

The Amma canteens launched by Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa captured the imagination of an entire nation – a populist venture that provided food at throwaway prices, at a time when ready-to-eat food was becoming increasingly expensive.

Such was the initiative’s popularity that the Tamil population in Bengaluru started the Amma canteen for Tamils in the city. Karnataka ministers such as DK Shivakumar even shared pictures of enjoying food at an Amma canteen in TN.

Conceived along the lines of TN’s highly successful model, the Aiyya Canteen was an initiative pursued by the Karnataka government to provide the same benefits to the needy and impoverished. However, after two years of dilly dallying – state planning commission chairman CM Ibrahim had even announced the menu – the project has been shelved.

Food and civil supplies minister UT Khader said that the government is now planning to set up night food shelters across all municipal corporations to feed the poor in urban areas. “The Amma canteens worked only to a certain extent even in TN. By the time, the poor came to these canteens, the food was either empty or only scraps of it were left. The exceptionally low prices of food meant that even those who could afford to eat elsewhere, came to these canteens. We do not intend to pursue the same policy,” he said.

The night food shelters that the government is planning to establish will provide access to food for the urban poor, he said. “The shelters will be set up in association with local municipal corporations. They will come up near bus terminals, railway stations and other places. The corporations will give us the locations, and we will set up these shelters there,” Khader added. However, the food will be distributed only for a stipulated period of time at night.

Hmm. It is not as if these issues of Amma Canteens were not known earlier. Perhaps a case of grapes gone sour..

It is interesting how such initiatives usually start in Southern states particularly in TN. Mid day meal also started in 1925 in then Madras.



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