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Poshan Abhiyaan scheme and its aftermath

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Sheikh Mohsin

Every year numerous reports and indices are revealed via local and international platforms covering wide spectrum of issues ranging from health, education, literacy, ease of doing business, climate change, biodiversity to poverty and happiness etc.

It’s these indexes by virtue of which respective States come across their performances (good or bad). Responsible Nations take cognizance of these findings and delve deep to device a mechanism accordingly which eventually helps them to improve their performance.

In this connection UNICEF published a report in 2018—pointing out that India is having higher number of stunted children in the world with a whooping 40.6 million children (under the age of 5 years) that amounts to 38.4 % of world’s stunted population. 17% are wasted (no weight for height) , 33% are underweight (no weight for age).

This prompted the Government of India to launch Poshan Abhiyaan or National nutrition mission in order to reduce stunting, anaemia, under nutrition and low birth weight babies.

Poshan Abiyaan is an overarching scheme launched by PM in 2018 that aimed to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.

It also aspired to achieve 6% reduction in childhood stunting from 38.4% to 32.4% over 3 years from 2018 to 2020.

After conducting a research on the impact of experiences that any child goes through during childhood, the Harvard University has come up with startling observation. According to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, “experiences early in life can have a lasting impact on later learning, behavior, and health,” and those same experiences “actually get under the skin and into the body, with lifelong effects on adult physical and mental health.”

Therefore it’s of paramount importance to realise Poshan Abhiyan and the schemes alike so to reap the benefits of demographic dividend ahead. Otherwise, these toddlers are going to be a demographic disaster in near future.

Evaluation

The total budget allocated for the scheme was 9046.17 crore with the spending ratio of 60:40 and hundred percent for UT’s and was expected to benefit 10 crore people. Even when the scheme has entered into its final phase, only 30% funds have been utilised by States since then. Barring Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar, none of the state governments have spent even half of the sum which paints a grim picture of administration.

Ministry for women and child development informed a total of 4283 crores were disbursed by centre to different states and union territories and out of this only 1283 crores were utilized till October 2019 or 29.97% of the funds granted.

Among the worst performing States, Jammu and Kashmir was found least prepared for effective implementation of Poshan Abhiyan which exposes lofty claims by successive governments time and again. Right from August 2019 when article 370 was abrogated, all the economic activities in JK remained suspended, further aggravated by the lockdowns owing to pandemic Covid-19.

This led to the virtual slump in the state’s economy hence pushed the poorer sections into oblivion.

Post script: The recent statement by L.G manoj Sinha that ” We Aim To Speed Up J-K’s Development Without Discrimination” is worth appreciating as it provides a ray of hope especially in a time when the valley is caught up with bleak atmosphere.

However it’s high time to materialize all governments development ambitions alongwith equal and strict implementation of Poshan Abhiyan scheme through concerted efforts and not merely relying on lip service.

(The writer is pursuing Masters in public administration from IGNOU. He can be reached at [email protected])


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