India’s battle against malnutrition, particularly among children and women, continues to be a pressing issue despite the government’s efforts. Over the past nine years, various schemes have been implemented, but the prevalence of malnutrition remains a critical concern.
One of the initiatives currently underway is the Rashtriya Poshan Maah 2023, which harnesses the power of people’s participation through Jan Bhagidari. This event focuses on various themes and activities such as Swasth Balak Spardha, anaemia camps, and Poshan Bhi Padhai Bhi. The participation in these activities registered a record number on the Jan Andolan dashboard.
Since the launch of the POSHAN Abhiyaan in 2018, annual Jan Andolans have been organized to promote behavioral changes related to nutrition. These Jan Andolans target specific beneficiaries, including pregnant women, lactating mothers, adolescent girls, and children up to 6 years of age. So far, 10 Jan Andolans have been celebrated, with more than 60 crore sensitization activities recorded.
The ongoing 6th Rashtriya Poshan Maah is organized under the Ministry of Women and Child Development and showcases collaboration with various ministries and departments to maximize outreach. In the first 12 days, over 6 crore activities have been registered on the Jan Andolan dashboard across the country.
The current campaign focuses on themes such as exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding, Swasth Balak Spardha, growth measurement, and sensitization of tribal communities to address malnutrition challenges like anaemia. Various sensitization activities have been carried out, with the highest number of activities in the Swasth Balak Spardha/Growth measurement drive. Other activities include growth monitoring, food resource mapping, anaemia camps, and home visits for ECCE.
Through each Jan Andolan and its participatory sensitization activities, progress is being made towards making nutrition a part of Jan Bhagidari. The Poshan Abhiyaan 2.0 aims to improve the nutritional status of children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers through convergence, governance, and capacity building. It aims to address malnutrition challenges, promote nutrition awareness, develop healthy eating habits, and address nutrition-related deficiencies.
Poshan Abhiyaan 2.0 aims to benefit approximately 11.80 crore children studying in 11.20 lakh schools nationwide. It extends mid-day meals to Balvatika children and integrates Farmer Producer Organisations and Women Self-Help Groups to champion the “vocal for local” philosophy. Social audits are made mandatory for every school, and nutrition gardens are encouraged. The initiative also introduces “Tithi Bhojan” to foster community participation and empathy.
To ensure access to nutritious food, the Modi government provides free food grains to Antyodaya and priority households for the next year. The One Nation, One Ration Card scheme simplifies access to food by facilitating ration cards’ portability. Further awareness-generation activities like the “Eat Right India” campaign promote healthy eating habits.
Although commendable, the government’s commitment to addressing malnutrition needs to address the root causes of poverty, inadequate access to clean water, changing dietary patterns, and seasonal migrations. This requires holistic efforts that combine government initiatives with community involvement.
India’s commitment to addressing malnutrition and promoting good nutrition aligns with its global commitment under Sustainable Development Goal 2—ensuring zero hunger. These initiatives not only provide supplementary nutrition but also promote awareness about healthy eating habits and overall well-being.
In conclusion, the Modi government’s dedication to the well-being of women and children through schemes like Poshan Abhiyaan is commendable. However, sustained efforts are needed to combat malnutrition effectively, including poverty alleviation, improved sanitation and hygiene, promotion of healthy eating habits, and support for traditional crop cultivation. By prioritizing nutrition, India is working towards a healthier and brighter future for its young citizens.