Better mid-day meals enhance students’ academic performance3 min read . Updated: 10 Mar 2017, 08:32 AM IST
Ensuring balanced diets in childhood is crucial for both physical and mental growth
Meals for school children have been in focus in India recently. The Union government has decided to make Aadhaar verification mandatory for mid-day meals, while Delhi government announced the inclusion of eggs and bananas in its school meals. Discussion on utility of mid-day meals is often centred on their health benefits for children. A National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper by Michael L. Anderson, associate professor at University of California, Berkeley, and others shows that balanced meals in schools also contribute towards development of cognitive abilities in children.
The paper is based on a five-year study of all California schools, and shows that children from schools with healthier school lunch vendors scored better in state achievement tests.
These findings are in keeping with earlier research which has shown stunting to have an adverse effect on cognitive development of children in India.
Also Read | School Lunch Quality and Academic Performance
The digital economy is often thought as being more open to new ideas and competition. Recent research by Ulrich Dolata, professor at the University of Stuttgart, says that the commercial internet is increasingly getting centralized with five big companies—Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft—shaping the overall products and services offered on the internet and determining access to the web.
Besides, these large firms structure the communication possibilities for users and are the main drivers of innovation in this field, giving them immense ‘power’ to shape narratives and maybe also events.
However, the study notes that the ‘power’ of the incumbent giants need not be permanent, citing the examples of AOL, Yahoo, MySpace and Nokia.
Stock market rallies led by foreign portfolio investments are often seen as a blessing for any economy.
Such beliefs do not distinguish between financial and real investments.
A recently published paper by Daniele Tori and Özlem Onaran of the University of Greenwich shows that this might be inappropriate. Analyzing the behaviour of European companies between 1995 and 2015, they argue that financial investments by non-financial companies often crowd out their physical investments.
Financial development, i.e. the growth of stock markets and financial intermediaries often induce companies to “suppress investment in fixed assets". The researchers contend that increasing “financialization" could be a factor behind stagnant or fragile growth in advanced economies.
The choice that working mothers often face, whether to devote more time to child-care or to career, is likely to remain a difficult one in the years to come even if societal norms change and the world as a whole becomes more progressive. Ylenia Brilli of the University of Gothenburg shows using data from the US that an increase in a mother’s working time may eventually lead to a reduction in child’s ability, physical and cognitive, owing to a decrease in mother’s child-care time. A father’s child-care time might not be the perfect substitute as studies show that the father’s time with the child becomes more ‘productive’ only as the child reaches adolescence.
Also, no amount of non-parental child care time is able to compensate for the loss in mother’s child-care time, strengthening the widely held view that mother’s time devoted to child-care is essential.
It seems the state of the Indian economy depends on which set of data you want to consult or put your faith in.
Official data released last week showed that demonetization did not have much adverse impact on economic growth in the October to December quarter. However, critics argue that estimates for the informal sector in GDP calculations might be based on now inappropriate extrapolations.
Moreover, some monthly indicators actually paint a picture of a nose-diving economy rather than a healthy one, viz. the Sales Managers’ Index (SMI) for India published by ‘World Economics’. An article in Zero Hedge notes that the sales indicator fell to the lowest level in over three years in February, reflecting the headwinds faced by small businesses on account of demonetization.
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