ICDS Scheme and its Aims

This Central Scheme was launched on 2nd October 1975, and it is one of the world's largest and most unique programmes for early childhood development. It has become synonymous with India's commitment to her children, whatever that is supposed to mean, and of providing pre-school education as well as breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality. The forward march of this ambitious Scheme has been as follows:

· First the Balvadis were started at village level for preprimary school children in the year 1954

· More than a decade later in 1967, a new project was started in the name of Women and Child Welfare

· Following this a nutrition programme for school-going children, the Mid-day-meal programme was started in 1970

· Again, in 1975, 33 child welfare projects and around 4900 AWCs in rural, urban and tribal areas were sanctioned and

· the ICDS was started on a trial basis for just 5 years to begin with, providing 6 kinds of services for children, adolescent girls and women; in Uttar Pradesh, it was Dalmau Project in Rae Bareli, Shankargarh Project (Tribal Area) in Allahabad and Jawan Project in Aligarh (Minority)

· The Scheme had been started on a trial basis for 5 years according to the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi.

The Stated Aims of the Scheme were to:
1. provide basic services like pre-school education, food and primary health care services to under 6-year-old and their mothers at the community level.

2. give priority to care of pre-birth to 3-year-old children

3. target poor and marginalized sections of society

4. work at convergence interface between other factors of development like education, health care and sanitation.

5. break the cycle of malnutrition, which affects future generations

6. take up the health problems of adolescent girls and women

7. take care of the education and training, health checkups, and mental health check-ups so that adolescent girls may grow up to be properly trained, healthy, aware and empowered women/mothers in the future. (The aim of providing supplementary nutrition, health checkups and training to adolescent girls is non-functional in the majority of districts for the present.)

8. take care of supplementary nutrition for pregnant women, vaccination for children, regular health checkups, guidance regarding balanced diet, importance of safe institutional deliveries, guidance regarding the importance of feeding the first milk to the infant etc.
It is the Anganwadi Supervisors who have to take care of all the needs of the pregnant mother for 9 months while the responsibility to make house visits, supervise the nutrition and ensure safe delivery is that of the ANMs and Asha workers working under the NRHM.
Since the mother has to take care of the infant from birth upto 6 months, checking weight at regular intervals, and giving vaccinations becomes important and mandatory.
All malnourished children and mothers are referred to hospitals by Anganwadi Supervisors, who take them there.
Records regarding the condition of the mother and child also have to be maintained at the Anganwadi centre and are to be updated every month. 
Whether the children are normal or are partially malnourished and severely malnourished has to be determined by weighing them. Accordingly, they have to be referred to the nearest hospital and a team of doctors are to attend to them. For children suffering from severe malnutrition, the amount of nutrition being given to them has to be doubled.

Universalization -What has been done so far It was after hearing a PUCL Public Interest Litigation on food security, on 1 December, 2006, that the Supreme Court gave a direction for universalization of the Scheme and also linked it with the issue of food security. There was a direction to the ICDS to construct 14 lakh Anganwadi Kendras to cover a population of around 1 billion. But there was no increased fund allocation for this work by the then Finance Minister; for which the deadline was 2012.
In 2007, to the previously allocated Rs.4087 crores, a paltry sum of 700 crores had been added, but this stood in contempt of the SC directive of exactly double of the
previous allocation. An estimated allocation of near about 10,000 crores each for 2006-07 and 2007-08 was needed for universalizing the Scheme. The U.P. Government did nothing to augment this.

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