In a threadbare hospital here, 5-year-old Rashmi Kumari is fighting a powerful poison. “She is a brilliant student,” said her uncle as he tried to distract her by asking her to recite poems.
Rashmi is also the only child in her household left alive.
Her cousins, Anshu and Kushboo, died after eating a school lunch now believed to have been contaminated with a pesticide compound, according to a hospital official. The disaster has left at least 23 children dead as of Thursday morning and spotlights the shortcomings in a government school-lunch program intended to feed India’s millions of malnourished students.