CONTEXT: The approval of the PM POSHAN scheme by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs until 2025-26.

The Decision of CCEA comes at a very crucial time when income declines and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have already affected the capacities of families to ensure good nutrition.

PM POSHAN Scheme – This is a Centrally-Sponsored Scheme, covering all school children studying in Classes I-VIII of Government, Government-Aided Schools. It will supply hot cooked meals in Government and Government-aided schools from 2021-22 to 2025-26. The PM-POSHAN Scheme was earlier known as Mid Day Meal Scheme, covering 11.80 crore children, studying in 11.20  lakh schools across the country.

NFHS The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a multi-round survey, conducted in a representative sample of households all over India.

The survey provides national and state level information for India, on different factors including fertility, infant and child mortality, the practice of family planning, maternal and child health, reproductive health, nutrition, anaemia, utilization and quality of health and family planning services etc.

 The findings in Phase I (NFHS-5)-(for 22 States and Union Territories) in December 2020 were distressing:

  • Child stunting rose in 13 States

  • Prevalence of Anaemia among women and children 

  • Wasting in 12 States.

 The drop over the previous survey period exposes the worsening menace of malnutrition, threatening to deprive millions of children of a fully productive adult life. 

It will take a serious effort to address this unseen crisis, supported by strong budgetary commitment. 

The centrally supported programme is for Government and Government-aided schools, covers 11.8 crore children. It will be supplemented with nutritional elements in identified aspirational districts and areas with high anaemia. 

The scheme, which is proposed to be extended to pre-primary children, provides for :-

  • Social audit 

  • school nutritional gardens, will be created to source fresh produce

  • Involvement of Farmer-Producer Organisations (FPOs) as providers

  •  Lays emphasis on local food traditions

According to the Government, funds for the PM POSHAN have been approved at ₹1,30,794 crore(over the five-year period), including ₹31,733 crore from States and UTs. 

While some child growth metrics like stunting require a longer window to measure, problems i.e. anaemia and low weight , lend themselves to speedy betterment. 

Recent data on child malnutrition underline and emphasise the value of good school meals.

The Government must illustrate that Saksham Anganwadi-Mission POSHAN 2.0, consolidating the POSHAN Abhiyan and schemes covering anganwadis, crèches and adolescent girls, is fiscally stronger than its former component parts.

 There must be a meaningful increase in the current Budget estimate over the combined past outlay for the incorporated individual schemes. On nutritional planning, the renewed plan should introduce a greater diversity of diets that compensates for micronutrient and protein deficiency.

TO CONCLUDE: Strong nutrition supplement  at school, community, and childcare centres is crucial when pandemic-induced income declines have already depressed essential consumption. The lower offtake of foodgrains for the noon meal scheme during the pandemic over the previous year  and the variable food distribution mechanisms in many States should be alarming for the authorities and others including the civil society. 





Download Plutus ias Current Affairs 01 October 2021

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