Wednesday 3 June 2015

Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)

  • Why in news?
    • "Child nutrition is prime-time news only when a tragedy occurs. Child undernutrition is no less a tragedy but rarely recognised as such."
    • Anyways, the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has stopped eggs under ICDS programme because it is a ‘sentimental’ issue for him. 
  • What is ICDS?
    • Launch: 1975
    • One of the oldest supplementary nutrition programmes for 
      • children aged 0-6 years
      • pregnant and lactating mothers. 
    • Implementation by Anganwadi centre, 
      • Anganwadis are also involved in
        • Immunisation
        • Health check-ups
        • Some pre-school education of children
        • Nutrition and health education of women of reproductive age. 
    • Aim: 
      • An anganwadi centre in every community development block, irrespective of population. 
      • Blocks with over 2 lakh population should have at least two centres. 
  • Criticism of ICDS
    • Corruption
    • Unmonitored
    • 40 years after the scheme was launched, an estimated 30-40% of India’s children remain malnourished.
    • Infrastructure issues
      • Running out of ramshackle and makeshift premises
    • Small allocations for child nutrition programmes (ICDS, MDM; Rs 5-7 per child per day)
      • Central allocations for ICDS and MDM have been cut, which would strain state budgets further.
    • Low food quality
      • barring few states - not a nutritious menu (no milk, eggs, etc.)
      • "Perishability and fear of adulteration impede improvements in food quality. Though milk and dal are protein-rich, both can easily be diluted and milk is perishable. Creative thinking can lead to solutions. In Karnataka, milk powder is supplied." (IE)

  • Who funds ICDS?
    • It is a centrally-sponsored scheme  --> so states implement it. 
    • 50:50 for states, and 90:10 for NE states (NE states paying only 10%)
    • Budget allocation was cut down
      • 16,000 crore --> 8,000 Crore.
  • Who decides what children get to eat in an ICDS meal?
    • Calorific composition and per-beneficiary expenditure decided by Central Government as it has to spend the money
      • 6 months to 6 years 
        • 500 Kcal daily, from 12-15 g protein apart from other foods. 
          • Severely malnourished children in the same group get 800 Kcal, with 20-25 g protein. 
          • For pregnant and lactating mothers: 600 Kcal, at least 18-20 g protein. 
        • The budget, currently, is Rs 4 per day for normal children, Rs 6 for severely malnourished children and Rs 5 for pregnant and lactating mothers.
    • Menu decided by District Administration because the implementation is with the states, and because food habits vary widely even within a state
      • Clearly if CM decides something that is final. 
      • Other factors determining Menu
        • Budget -  Egg costlier than lentils, chana or soybean. 
  • How are ICDS meals different from the Mid-Day Meal scheme?
    • ICDS aims to improve nutrition levels of children of pre-school age. 
    • MDM
      • Started in 1995
      • World’s largest school meal programme
      • Essentially about enhancing nutrition levels, enrolment, retention and attendance of children.
      • All children in Classes 1-8 in government schools or aided schools and education centres, and unrecognised madarsas/maqtabs supported under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, are beneficiaries. 
      • Nutritional norms for MDM:
        • Classes 1-5
          • 450 calories
          • 12 g of protein
        • Class 6 - 8
          • 700 calories
          • 20 g protein
Arguments in favour: 
  • a nutritious and affordable solution
  • contain all the nutrients (except vitamin C) required by small children 
  • generally more nutrient-rich than vegetarian options — without the problems of perishability and adulteration!
  • easily to monitor whether people have got their full entitlement (quite difficult with milk or dal.) 
  • important for infants - nutrition-dense. 
  • a perfect “take-home ration” for children under three. 
    • e.g. in Odisha
Arguments against:
"Recent arguments for denying eggs to children and forcing vegetarianism on them include: the strongest animals, horses and elephants, are vegetarian; Sant Ravidas was vegetarian, so all Dalits should be like him; as Dalits cannot afford non-vegetarian food anyway, schools and anganwadis need not provide eggs; separate seating arrangements might be difficult to manage. Without saying it explicitly, the message has been clear: rather than hurt the sentiments of a few among the so-called upper castes, it is better to keep eggs out. Caste resistance is an important part of why northern and western states do not provide eggs. Often, these arguments are disguised as “rational”."


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