Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman 2021 (PM POSHAN)

Ritika Pandey

Background

PM POSHAN earlier known as the National Programme of mid-day meal in schools is one of the foremost rights based centrally sponsored schemes under the National Food security act, 2013 (NFSA). It provides one hot cooked meal to all school children studying in classes I-VIII in government and government-aided schools. The scheme covers about 11.8 crore children studying in 11.2 lakh schools across the country. The scheme is proposed to be extended to students studying in pre-primary or Balvatikas. The concept of Tithi Bhojan will be encouraged extensively. Tithi Bhojan is a community participation programme in which people provide special food to children on special occasions/festivals. 

Nutritional Gardens: The government will provide nutritional gardens in schools. The gardens are being provided to offer additional micro-nutrients to children.

Direct Benefit Transfer: The central government will ensure DBT from states to schools, which will use it to cover cooking costs.

Vocal for Local for Atmanirbhar Bharat: Involvement of Farmers Produce Organizations (FPO) and Women Self Help Groups in implementation of the scheme will be encouraged.

The Objectives of the scheme are to address two pressing problems for the majority of children in India, vis a vis hunger and education by:

  • Improving the nutritional status of eligible children in government and government aided schools;
  • Encouraging poor children, belonging to disadvantaged sections, to attend school more regularly and help them concentrate on classroom activities;
  • Providing nutritional support to children of elementary stage in drought-affected and disaster-affected areas during summer vacation.

Functioning

Under the Poshan Abhiyan, several key interventions and components are implemented

  1. ICDS and Anganwadi Services Strengthening: The ICDS programme, along with Anganwadi centres, plays a central role in delivering essential nutrition and health services to children and mothers at the grassroots level.
  2. Community Mobilization Awareness: Poshan Abhiyan emphasizes community engagement and mobilization to create awareness about the importance of nutrition, health, and hygiene practices.
  3. Jan Andolan: The scheme provides a people’s movement to mobilize various stakeholders, including government agencies, civil society organizations, media, and the private sector to collectively address malnutrition.

Significance Of Poshan Abhiyaan

The significance is as follows:

  • It serves as the top national coordination and convergence body for nutrition.
  • More than 10 crore people in India will benefit from the scheme.
  • It improves the nutritional and health status of children aged 0 to 6, pregnant women, lactating mothers, and adolescent girls up to grass root level.
  • Through its targets, the program will work to reduce the prevalence of anemia, low birth weight, stunting, and undernutrition.

Impact

As per the report of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the nutrition indicators for children under 5 years and women have improved between the two rounds of the survey conducted in year 2015-16 (NFHS-4) and 2071-21 (NFHS-5). The prevalence of stunting has reduced from 38.4% in NFHS-4 to 35.5% in NFHS-4, wasting from 21.0% to 19.3% and underweight from 35.8% to 32.1%. Further, the prevalence of underweight among women (15-49 years) has reduced from 22.9% in NFHS-4 to 18.7% in NFHS-5. 

Further, as per data recorded in Poshan Tracker, ICT application from Mission Poshan 2.0, close to 7 crore children were measured in the country in June 2023 as per which, 7% were wasted and 19% underweight, which is significantly lower than NFHS indicators.

Conclusion

Proactive measures are needed to address the longstanding issues of malnutrition and food security. The imperative is to devise structured, time-bound and location-specific strategies with due consideration to the effects of socio-economic factors, and impact of the pandemic. It is also crucial to create a comprehensive approach that will address the different sectors and dimensions of nutrition. There are two complementary approaches to reducing undernutrition; direct nutritional interventions and indirect multi sectoral-approaches. Direct interventions, such as breastfeeding, complementary feeding and handwashing practices, complement the long-term sustainable multi-sectoral approach.

References

  1. Coalition Food & Nutrition Security. Tackling malnutrition in a pandemic era: A renewed commitment to action for nutrition in India.
  2. NITI Aayog 2020. Accelerating progress on nutrition in India-what will it take? Third Progress Report
  3. National Family Health Survey 2015-16
  4. Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India.  https://dfpd.goMenon, P., S. Mani, and P. H. Nguyen. 2017. How are India’s Districts Doing on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition? Insights from the National Family Health Survey-4. POSHAN Data Note #1. New Delhi, India: International Food Policy Research Institute.v.in/nfsa-act.htm
  5. Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. https://wcd.nic.in/schemes-listing/2404
  6. Global Nutrition Report 2018. https://globalnutritionreport.org/reports/global-nutrition-report-2018/

About the contributor: Ritika Pandey is a editorial intern at IMPRI.

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