Children are the future of a nation. Recognizing the importance of children as a vital human resource, the Constitution of India, Directive Principles of State Policy and the National Policy for Children have address the need for ensuring holistic development of the Indian Child. However, a significant proportion of children under five years are falling prey to diseases and in some cases death due to malnutrition a cumulative manifestation of poverty, low status of women, neglect of the girl child, poor environmental sanitation, inadequate access to primary health care, inappropriate child caring and feeding practices.
To address these issue, the Government of India launched the Integrated Child Development Services – ICDS Scheme on 2 October 1975, to commemorate the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. From the small beginnings of 33 blocks in 1975 , ICDS has growth to become world’s largest and most unique early childhood development programme an initiative unparalleled in history.
Today ICDS has a network of 4200 projects covering nearly 75% community development blocks and 273 urban slum pockets. Poised for universal coverage, ICDS reaches out to 4.8 million expectant and nursing mothers and 22.9 million children (under six years of age) of the disadvantaged groups. Of these 12.5 million children (aged three to six years) participate in center based pre school activities. (1)
As per 1991 census, India has around 150 million children, constituting 17.5% of India’s population, who are below the age of 6 years. A large number of them live in economic And social environment which impede the child’s physical and mental development. These condition include poverty, poor environmental sanitation, disease, infection, inadequate access to primary health care; inappropriate child caring and feeding practices.
Government of India proclaimed a National Policy on Children in August 1974 declaring children as, “supremely important asset”. The policy provided the required framework for assigning priority to different needs of the child. The programme of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) was launched in 1975 seeking to provide an integrated package of services in a convergent manner for the holistic development of the child. (2).
1.1 INTEGRATED CHILD DEVELOPMENT SERVICES SCHEME (ICDS) The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme was conceived in 1975 with an integrated delivery package of early childhood services so that their synergistic effect can be taken full advantage of. The Scheme aims to improve the nutritional and health status of vulnerable groups including pre- school children, pregnant women and nursing mothers through providing a package of services including supplementary nutrition and health education. In addition, the Scheme envisages effective convergence of inter- sector services in the anganwadi centers.
1.2 Targeted Beneficiaries
The Scheme targets the most vulnerable groups of population including children up to 6 years of age, pregnant women and nursing mother belonging to poorest of the poor families and living in disadvantaged areas including backward rural areas, tribal areas and urban slums. The identification of beneficiaries is done through surveying the community and identifying the families living below the poverty line.
Grams of Protein
Children upto 6 years
Pregnant and nursing mothers
1.3 Objectives of the ICDS :
The objectives of the scheme are :-
To improve the nutritional and health status of pre-school children in the age group of 0-6 years. To lay the foundation of proper psychological development of the child. To reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school drop out. To achieve effective co-ordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to...
References: 1. Planning Commission, Govt. of India (1985). Seventh Five Year Plan, 1985-90. Vol: II, Delhi.
2. K. Park, Textbook of Preventive & Social Medicine, 18th Edition, p: 482.
3. B. Srilakshmi, Dietetics, 5th Edition, p: 70
4. O.P. Ghai, Essential Pediatrics, 4th Edition, P: 41
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