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(GIST OF YOJANA) Stretching a Hand to the Vulnerable [MAY-2018]


(GIST OF YOJANA) Stretching a Hand to the Vulnerable

[MAY-2018]


Stretching a Hand to the Vulnerable

Social Inclusion refers to access to favourable opportunities in society to enhance one’s life chances. Such opportunities comprise of education, employment, social services and social protection. The absence of these opportunities is social exclusion, which results in marginalization, poverty and material deprivation. This article deals with the programmes and policies of the government towards improving the lives of the vulnerable like the girl child, women, weaker sections and elderly.

Constitutional Provisions

The Constitution of India through its Preamble seeks to secure to all its citizens-justice, social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; and equality of status and of opportunity. The Indian Constitution has outlined through the Fundamental Rights and the Directive the State’s policies for Social Inclusion. Part III of the Indian Constitution provides for 6 Fundamental Rights for Social Inclusion. These include Right to Equality, Right to Freedom, Right against Exploitation, Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights and Right to Constitutional Remedies. These Rights are also available to persons with disabilities.

Article 15 (3) empowers the State to make special provisions for women and children in educational institutions and employment opportunities. This provision has been widely invoked by Government for providing exclusive reservation of certain categories of posts for women and for reservation of women in local bodies and educational institutions. Article 15 (4) seeks to promote the educational advancement of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, i.e. the OBCs, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matters of admission of students belonging to these categories in unaided educational institutions. Article 17 abolishes untouchability and its practice in any form. The enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offence in accordance with the law.

Governance Structures

The Government of India’s Social Inclusion program memes is implemented by the Ministries of Social Justice & Empowerment, Tribal Affairs, Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs.

Ministry of social Justice and Empowerment

The Ministry is the custodian of 2 Acts, specifically aimed at curbing (i) untouchability and (ii) atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. These are the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes was set up under Article 383 of the Constitution in 1990, to investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for Scheduled Castes under the Constitution and all Laws in force and to inquire into specific complaints with respect to deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes.

The economic empowerment of Scheduled Castes is through the special central assistance to the scheduled castes sub-plan (SCSP). Assistance is provided by the State Scheduled Caste Development Corporations, which implement economic development schemes with the equity transferred by the central government. The State Scheduled Caste Development Corporations provide credit and inputs by way of margin money loans and subsidy.

Department for Empowerment of persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan)

The Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities deals with the legislation governing different aspects of disability and welfare and empowerment of persons with disabilities. These are the Rehabilitation Council of India Act 1992, The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1955 and the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act 1999.

There are 3 Statutory bodies under the Department. The Rehabilitation Council of India is responsible for regulating training policies and programmes for various categories of professionals in the area of rehabilitation and special education. The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities is the statutory functionary under the Act of 1955 to coordinate work of State Commissioners for persons with disabilities. The Accessible India Campaign is a nationwide flagship campaign to ensure a barrier-free and conducive environment for Divyangjans all over the country, launched by the Prime Minister on December 31, 2015, for creating universal accessibility for persons with Disabilities.

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(GIST OF YOJANA) Nutritional Status in India [MAY-2018]


(GIST OF YOJANA) Nutritional Status in India

[MAY-2018]


Nutritional Status in India

Although India has made sizeable economic and social gains over the last two decades, the challenge of maternal and child under-nutrition remains a national public health concern and a policy priority for the current government. India is home to over 40 million stunted and 17 million wasted children (under-five years). Despite a marked trend of improvement in a variety of anthropometric measures of nutrition over the last 10 years, child under-nutrition rates persist as among the highest in the world. This inequality is accentuated by stark disparities across states. Future improvements. In nutritional status of Indian children and mothers will require significant investments into human resources with critical health investments at the local levels.

Key Nutrition Metrics

Malnutrition indicators in India “remain among the highest in the world, despite a declining trend since the early 1990s. The recent figures from NFHS 4 are more encouraging showing further improvements on most indicators. Key Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) with a focus on health have seen budgetary cuts over the last two years, with central allocations to the ICDS has declined almost 10 per cent from Rs. 15,502 crore (in FY 2015-16) to Rs.14,000 crore (in FY 2016-17). AWCs require investment in vital infrastructure (close to half of AWCs do not have functional adult weight scales), and Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) require monitoring to ensure that they are encouraging target groups to avail supplementary nutrition. A complimentary public intervention is the provision of school meals as part of the Mid Day Meal programme. Field studies highlight the link between the provision of school meals and improved cognition. Furthermore, the provision of school meals has been found to lead to improved learning outcomes for children.

Existing Policy Framework

The most prominent government nutrition interventions include the ICDS programme led by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), and the NHRM led by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW). Both CSSs prioritise the role of community level organizations AWCs and AWWs under the ICDS and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) under the NHRM-for the delivery of nutrition interventions to the target groups of pregnant and lactating mothers, and infants.
The NNM will comprise mapping of various Schemes contributing towards addressing malnutrition, including a very robust convergence mechanism, ICT based Real Time Monitoring system, incentivizing States/UTs for meeting the targets, incentivizing Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) for using IT-based tools, eliminating registers used by AWWS, introducing measurement of height of children at the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs), Social Audits, setting-up Nutrition Resource Centres, involving masses through Jan Andolan for their participation on nutrition through various activities, among others. It will be a central nodal agency that helps coordinate central and state government programmes and infuse them with additional funds/resources.

Policy Recommendations

In response to the persistence of the under nutrition challenge in India, and taking note of the evidence evaluation current policy approaches, key lessons for nutrition-specific policy interventions are as follow:

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(GIST OF YOJANA) Creating Mass Movement to Address Malnutrition [MAY-2018]


(GIST OF YOJANA) Creating Mass Movement to Address Malnutrition

[MAY-2018]


Creating Mass Movement to Address Malnutrition

It is a known fact that undernutrition is an outcome of not one but multiple detrimental factors. These factors play their role in helping sustain this continuous burden of undernutrition leading to our inability to achieve our desired human resources potential, generation after another. In order to achieve its true potential and play the role as a global super power India will need to focus on eradication of malnutrition so as to ensure that the coming generations are healthy, enabling higher intellectual potential, leading to enhanced work productivity. This one factor will enable us to connect the dots between schemes like Make in India, Digital India, Skill India and grow to our desired potential as a Nation.
On March 8, 2018; the Prime Minister launched POSHAN Abhiyaan – PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan. The programme through use of technology, a targeted approach and convergence strives to reduce the level of stunning, under-nutrition, anemia and low birth weight in children, as also, focus on adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers, thus holistically addressing malnutrition. The programme aims to ensure service delivery and interventions by use of technology, behavioral change through convergence and lays-down specific targets to be achieved across different monitoring parameters over the next few years. To ensure a holistic approach, all 36 States/UTs and districts will be covered in a phased manner i.e. 315 districts in 2017-18, 235 districts in 2018-19 and remaining districts in 2019-20. More than 10 crore people will be benefitted by this programme. Never before has nutrition got so much prominence at the highest level in the country.

Different Ministries/Departments at the Centre and States/UTs deal with varied interventions required for reduction of malnutrition in a stand-alone manner. States/UTs being the highest implementing agency for all such schemes, it is pertinent to achieve synergy of all interventions to effectively target malnutrition. POSHAN will provide the required convergence platform for all such schemes and thus augment a synergized approach toward Nutrition. Convergence at centre is being achieved through formation of the National Council for Nutrition and the Executive Committee for POSHAN Abhiyaan. Both these draw members from all the stakeholders of the Abhiyaan. Similarly, the convergence action plan at state, district and block level define the implementation and monitoring mechanisms for the Abhiyaan. The very high speed network (VHSN) day provides the convergence platform at village level, for participation of all frontline functionaries.

The problem of malnutrition is inter-generational and is dependent on multiple factors which, inter-alia, include optimal Infant & Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices, Immunization, Institutional Delivery, Early Childhood Development, Food Fortification, Deworming, access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation (WASH), Dietary diversification, and other related factors. Therefore, to address the problem of stunting, under-weight and wasting, especially in children, there is a need to take-up sustained efforts requiring multi-pronged approach and bring grass-root synergy and convergence.
Ministry of Women and Child Development is the nodal Ministry for anchoring overall implementation; as described above, the vision is for all these Ministries to work together for addressing undernutrition. Never before has so many programmes been pulled together for addressing undernutrition at national level in India. The Prime Minister Office will review the progress every six months and similar review is expected at state level; and this process will be augmented by nutrition specific review in every district by the District Magistrate on a quarterly basis every 10‘” January, April, July and October. As the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) highlights that inter-state and inter-district variability for undernutrition is very high, so every state/district needs to develop its Convergence Action Plan which includes their specific constraints and bottlenecks and what can they address in short, mid or long term. It is very important that we put all the necessary processes in place before we start expecting miraculous changes in the undernutrition burden across the country. This Abhiyaan is going to be linked with incentives for the front line workers like Anganwadi workers for better service delivery, for the team based incentives for Anganwadi workers, ASHA and ANM for achieving targets together; and for early achiever states and UTs. For the non-performing states/UTs/ districts/ blocks/ Anganwadi centers there would be focused support and hand holding to make them start performing better.

Thus, the POSHAN Abhiyaan is to bring all of us together, put accountability and responsibilities on all stakeholders, to help the Country accomplish its desired potential in terms of its demographic dividend of 130 Crore human resource.

Food to Nutrition Security

Since 1947, achieving food security has been a major goal of our country. This was because the Bengal Famine created awareness of the need for paying priority attention to the elimination of hunger. Our Food Security Act 2013 specially mentions the need for nutritional security (An Act to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity and for matters connected there with or incidental there to).
In 1986, both in my lecture at FAO and in a book on “Global Aspects of Food Production” I stressed the need for a change in emphasis from food security to nutrition security. I also defined nutrition security as “physical economic and social access to balanced diet, clean drinking water, sanitation and primary healthcare”. Further I stressed the need for a food based approach to nutrition security and not a drug based one. Now after 30 years, the concept of nutrition security is gaining ground. MSSRF is planning to demonstrate how agriculture, health and nutrition can enter into a symbiotic relationship. In the area of nutrition security, it is important to look at food adequacy, protein deficiency and deficiency of micronutrients like iron, iodine, zinc, vitamin A etc. The Farming System for Nutrition (FSN) developed by me provides a methodology for achieving such symbiotic linkages. Above all, a global grid of genetic gardens of Biofortified plants will be an important tool for fighting hidden hunger.

National Nutrition Week

It will be worthwhile to spend National Nutrition Week and other such events in generating awareness of the implications of malnutrition particularly with reference to brain development in the child. As an action programme, it will be useful to launch a National Grid of Genetic Garden of Biofortitifed Plants. It will help us to provide agriculture remedies to major nutrition problems particularly affecting the poor. These events provide a great opportunity to launch a programme for the nutritional well being of our population.

Making National Nutrition Mission a Success

Government has approved a National Nutrition Mission with a three year budget of Rs. 9,000 crore. This is government’s response to the widespread malnutrition resulting in children with impaired cognitive abilities. The Nutrition Mission to be successful should be designed on a mission mode with symbiotic interaction among components and with a Mission Director who has the requisite authority coupled with accountability. Earlier Missions were not successful because the concept of the Mission was not fully operationalised. For example the Nutrition Mission should have the following interactive components to make it a success:

Overcoming undemutn'tion through the effective use of the provisions of the Food Security Act and also taking advantage of the enlarged food basket which includes millets in addition to rice and wheat.
Assuring enough protein intake through increased pulses production and increased consumption of milk and poultry products.
Overcoming the hidden hunger caused by micronutrient malnutrition through the establishment of genetic gardens of biofortified plants.
Ensuring food quality and safety through steps for the adoption of improved post-harvest management.

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