Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

Integrated child development scheme (ICDS) helps provide health and related facilities to children from mother’s womb (pre-natal) till 6 years age, in an integrated way. It provides- Immunisation, nutritional food, referral services, non-formal preschool education, health check-ups, training of pregnant and nursing mothers for better child rearing.

ICDS has helped India curb its maternal mortality rate (to 190) and infant mortality rate (to 44). It covers approximately 7.6 million pregnant women and lactating mothers and around 36 million children less than six years of age.
It provides supplementary nutrition like egg, dal etc. therefore good for development of children. Anganwadi enables children to inculcate school going habit. mothers are also taken care off well and are taught how to take care of their children.
Underweight children – 42% (2004-05) to 29%(2013-14)
Stunted children – 48%(20014-05) to 29%(2013-14)
However, based on individual focus, a few states like Kerala and Odisha have done better than other states like M.P, Bihar and Rajasthan. Underweight adolescent girls – 47%(2004-05) to 53%(2013-14).
Though immunization activities under ICDS have appreciable and its coverage has increased many folds since inception, there are issues –
  1. Lack of basic amenities and infrastructure and low pay to AWW/AWH- Many Anganwadi centres do not have proper infrastructure including clean water and proper space. Continuance of low stagnated wages to AWW/AWH does not help either.
  2. Lack of awareness and education – It has been a major stumbling block especially in rural areas. It has led to less than expected coverage.
  3. Budget cuts – Severe budget cuts for ICDS ( including the recent cut of nearly 50%) has left the scheme in tatters.
  4. Lack of state’s institutional support and outsourcing to private players- In many states, a couple of constituents of the scheme (including nutritional related requirements ) have been outsourced to private players, leading to issues of ineffective implementation.
  5. Little focus on pre-school formal education, health education and nutrition While other parts of scheme have been given adequate attention, these remain to be largely ignored.
  6. Corruption is rampant wrt allocation of funds.Funds should be put directly in accounts of aww and panchayat so cdpos will not be able to take their share
  7. No proper mechanism to utilize left over money. This should be checked
Critically evaluate the performance of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme in Indian states and examine the challenges faced by the scheme in meeting its objectives. (200 Words)



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