ICDS: Costs and ‘sentiment’ in way of eggstra nutrition for children

Activists say introduction of eggs in meals was one way of ensuring children get protein-rich food, especially in the tribal areas where malnutrition remains a concern.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | Updated: June 2, 2015 4:17 am
MPPEB scam, MP exam scam, shivraj Singh Chouhan, Madhya Pradesh exam scam, Madhya Pradesh news, Madhya Pradesh scam, Madhya Pradesh government, Madhya Pradesh recruitment scam, MP recruitment scam, Madhya Pradesh news, india news, nation news The central government decides the calorific composition and per-beneficiary expenditure. Currently, children of 6 months to 6 years get 500 Kcal daily, from 12-15 g protein apart from other foods.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will not allow children to eat eggs under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme because it is a ‘sentimental’ issue for him. ABANTIKA GHOSH profiles the ICDS, its objectives and meals.

What is the ICDS?

Launched in 1975, among the oldest running supplementary nutrition programmes for children aged 0-6 years, and pregnant and lactating mothers. Basic unit of implementation is anganwadi centre, which is also responsible for immunisation, health check-ups, some pre-school education of children, and nutrition and health education of women of reproductive age. Aim is to have an anganwadi centre in every community development block, irrespective of population. Blocks with over 2 lakh population should have at least two centres. ICDS has been criticised for being corrupt, unmonitored — and its failures are manifest in the fact that 40 years after the scheme was launched, an estimated 30-40 per cent of India’s children remain malnourished.

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Who funds ICDS?

It is a centrally-sponsored scheme that is implemented through the states. Until about a decade ago, states paid only for supplementary nutrition, Centre for everything else including establishment costs. It subsequently became 50-50, but the sharing pattern for supplementary nutrition has been 90-10 for the Northeast since 2009-10. Many anganwadis function out of ramshackle, makeshift premises. The last Budget cut allocation for ICDS from Rs 16,316 crore to Rs 8,000 crore.

Who decides what children get to eat in an ICDS meal?

The central government decides the calorific composition and per-beneficiary expenditure. Currently, children of 6 months to 6 years get 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.

egg

Because the implementation is with the states, and because food habits vary widely even within a state, the menu is decided by the district administration.

So, if a chief minister takes a strong view on what, or what not, to serve, that may be expected to be decisive. NGOs or contractors fill in tenders to prepare and serve food in accordance with specifications. Governments have tried some unconventional options like “fortified biscuits” in the anganwadis, but hot cooked meals is now the norm.

The budget is a limiting factor, so in many cases an option such as egg loses out to, say, lentils, chana or soybean. Some states like Bihar and West Bengal have been forced to cut down on the number of days they serve anganwadi children egg. Maharashtra and Uttarakhand prescribe eggs only for vulnerable children, while Kerala has egg for MDM, but not for ICDS.

How are ICDS meals different from the Mid-Day Meal scheme?

There is no connection. ICDS aims to improve nutrition levels of children of pre-school age. MDM, which started in 1995, is the world’s largest school meal programme, and is essentially about enhancing enrolment, retention and attendance of children. However, while drawing children to school with a meal as an incentive, a well-run MDM scheme should improve nutrition levels as well. All children in Classes 1-8 in government/aided schools and education centres, and unrecognised madarsas/maqtabs supported under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, are beneficiaries. Currently, nutritional norms for MDM are: 450 calories and 12 g of protein for Classes 1-5; 700 calories and 20 g protein for Classes 6-8.

(inputs from THE INDIAN EXPRESS correspondents across India)

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  1. Manish Garg
    Apr 26, 2016 at 2:38 pm
    centre decide on calorific norms while state handles implementation so they get to choose kya khilana hai
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    1. Manish Garg
      Apr 26, 2016 at 2:34 pm
      cm should not make it an issue , best should be decided by district administration on composition of ppl and their requirements,lt;br/gt;mdm objective is retention of school going children while icds aimed at nutrition support to pre school age 0-6 yrslt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;All children in Cles 1-8 in government/aided schools and education centres, and unrecognised madarsas/maqtabs supported under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, are beneficiaries
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      1. R
        rameshnk
        Jun 2, 2015 at 9:46 am
        It is not that there is no replacement for egg at all. Some good pulses- Lentil,chana, Soya Bean can also be equally good source of nutrition and protein. Once again the pressutes are at work in making a big noise just to put the Chauhan govt. in trouble. Egg, Beef are not the only sources of protein in the world. There are many equally good nutrients in the Veg world.
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        1. S
          Shankar
          Jun 2, 2015 at 2:11 pm
          blind bhakts you said and 69% of indian brothers and sister will agree with you. We do not want hatred, We want a unified india, we want our children to be healthy, we do not want bhashans
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          1. I
            Indian feminist
            Jun 2, 2015 at 8:49 pm
            Mr. Rameshnk don't start being this blind following that you start snatching away the chance of majority of kids for whom this lunch would be one and only full meal of the day ! Typical mentality of people like you to impose things just because you are able to afford it !! And overlooking the worst condition of people who are "supposedly" following your own faith but are not as lucky as you to put a single meal in front of their kids !! Good empathy you have ...you sound worst than fooling queen who said "cant afford bread eat cake "
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