Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)

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    • Recently, an internal audit report by Madhya Pradesh government has pointed to large-scale irregularities from fictitious beneficiaries to non-existent supply trucks in the implementation of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). 

    Major Highlights of the recent Audit Report 

    • Take-home ration (THR)
      • The auditors reviewed the THR component of ICDS distributed to 11.98 lakh beneficiaries which is 24% of total beneficiaries and found that in 2020-21, a ration worth Rs 110.83 crore was distributed to fake beneficiaries.
      • The report also pegged the fake production of THR.
        • In THR, raw ingredients or pre-cooked packets are distributed to beneficiaries who are children between eight months and three years, pregnant and lactating mothers and Out-of-school Adolescent Girls (OOSAG).
    • Vehicle registration
      • The report pointed out that trucks shown for distribution of THR were registered as other vehicles.
    • Anganwadi centres
      • On verification at anganwadi centres only three adolescent girls were found to be registered across 49 anganwadi centres in eight districts, as opposed to the state’s MIS portal, where 63,748 girls were registered, of whom ration was ostensibly distributed to 29,104 adolescent girls.
    • Out-of-school Adolescent Girls (OOSAG)
      • The Centre had earlier urged the state WCD Department to conduct a baseline survey by 2018 to identify OOSAGs which were not completed by 2021.
      • The final figures had been inflated too.

    The Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) Scheme

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    • Background: Launched in 1975, it is one of the world’s largest programmes providing an integrated package of services for the holistic development of the child.
      • The Scheme has been renamed as Anganwadi Services.
    • Aim: It is providing for supplementary nutrition, immunization and pre-school education to the children is a popular flagship programme of the government.
    • Funding: ICDS is a centrally sponsored scheme implemented by state governments and union territories. 
    • Coverage: The scheme is universal covering all the districts of the country.

    Objectives of ICDS

    • To improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years. 
    • To lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child. 
    • To reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout. 
    • To achieve effective coordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to promote child development. 
    • To enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.

    Beneficiaries of ICDS

    • Children in the age group of 0-6 years
    • Pregnant women 
    • Lactating mothers.

    Services under ICDS

    • Supplementary Nutrition
    • Pre-school non-formal education
    • Nutrition & health education
    • Immunization
    • Health check-up and
    • Referral services 

    Way forward/ Suggestions

    • Improving Supplementary Nutrition Programme with revision of cost norms.
    • Strengthening training and capacity as well as technical human resource.
    • Decentralized planning, management and flexible architecture introduction of Annual Programme of Implementation Plan (APIP) and flexibility to States for innovations.
    • Strengthening governance including PRIs, Civil Society & institutional partnerships with a norm of up to 10% projects to be implemented in collaboration with such agencies.
    • Using Information, Communication Technology (ICT) web enabled MIS and use of mobile telephony and others.
    • Creation of a separate ICDS Mission Budget head to allow flexibility and integration within the child development and nutrition sectors and for convergent action with wider determinants of maternal and child under-nutrition. 

    Source: IE