Daily Current Affairs for 30th December 2019

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3 years on, a mere 30% of Poshan Abhiyaan funds used

Paper:  GS II

Topic:  Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

For Prelims: Poshan Abhiyan

For Mains: Government Policies & Interventions for Development, Health, utilisation of the resources.

Why in News: 3 years on, a mere 30% of Poshan Abhiyaan funds used, barring three States, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar none of the governments used even half of the sum.

Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS)

The CNNS is the first survey to give detailed nutrition information of children between five and 14 years and to study overnutrition and markers of NCDs in children. Previous national surveys studied the health status of children up to five years, and of those above 15 years.

  • The CNNS, released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in October, showed that
    • 35% of children under the age of 5 are stunted
    • 17% are wasted (low weight for height)
    • 33% underweight (low weight for age)

About Poshan Abhiyan

  • The Poshan Abhiyaan, the Centre’s flagship programme.
  • It is aimed at improving nutritional outcomes among pregnant women, lactating mothers and children by reducing the level of stunting, underweight, anaemia and low birth weight by 2022.
  • It is meant to benefit more than 10 crore people and was launched after a Cabinet decision on December 1, 2017, with a total budget of ₹9,046.17 crore for three years, 50% of which is through budgetary support, which is further divided into 60:40 between the Centre and the States, 90:10 for the north-eastern region and the Himalayan States and 100% for the Union Territories without legislature.

Status of the fund utilisation

  • The State governments and the Union Territories utilised a mere 30% of the funds released under the Poshan Abhiyaan, or the National Nutrition Mission since it was launched in 2017.
  • Barring Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar, none of the governments used even half of the sum granted in the past three years, according to an analysis of the data shared in Parliament.
  • A grim picture:
    • The remaining 50% is from the World Bank or other multilateral development banks. As a result, the Centre’s total share will be ₹2,849.54 crore. With the three-year period drawing to a close, an analysis of the funds utilised paints a grim picture.
    • According to the information given by Minister for Women and Child Development in the recent session of Parliament, a total of ₹4,283 crore was disbursed by the Centre to different States and Union Territories.
    • Of this, ₹1,283.89 crore, or only 29.97% of the funds granted, were utilised until October 31, 2019.
    • Figures were not available for 2017-2018 as the scheme was launched at the fag end of the fiscal.
  • Mizoram on top: The five best performers were Mizoram (65.12%), Lakshadweep (61.08%), Bihar (55.17%), Himachal Pradesh (53.29%) and Meghalaya (48.37%).
  • The worst five performers were Punjab (0.45%), Karnataka (0.74%), Kerala (8.75%), Jharkhand (13.94%) and Assam (23.01%).
  • During 2019-20, funds were released for 19 States, though 12 of them had used less than a third of the funds released in the previous two years.

Why nutrition is important?

  • Nutrition has a strong correlation to health and is integral to growth and development. Timely nutritional interventions of breastfeeding, age-appropriate complementary feeding, Vitamin A supplementation, and full immunization are effective in improving nutrition outcomes in children.
  • The rationale for investing in nutrition is globally well recognized both as a critical developmental imperative, as well as crucial for the fulfillment of human rights especially of the most vulnerable such as children, girls, and women.
  • It constitutes the foundation for human development, by reducing susceptibility to infections, related morbidity, disability, and mortality burden.

What can be done to mitigate the challenge of malnutrition?  

The CNNS report draws our attention to an all too familiar factor, which has not received the necessary attention.

  • Educate mothers: Stunting among children less than four years came down from 46% to 19%, a whopping 27% point’s decline, when maternal education went up from illiteracy/no schooling to 12 years of schooling completed; this phenomenal decline was also true for the number of underweight children.
  • Women Empowerment: Women’s education, besides being of instrumental significance, has an intrinsic worth of its own. Possibly, as studies suggest, women’s secondary education might be capturing the cumulative effects of household wealth, women’s empowerment and knowledge and health-seeking behavior.
  • Rich and poor: The difference was close to the gap between the poorest and richest wealth groups. It is next to impossible to transform the poorest households into richest so soon. However, increasing the educational attainment of women significantly is certainly feasible.
  • Hygienic practice: Ending open defecation and enhancing access to safe water and sanitation are indeed appropriate policy goals, which need to be sustained; however, ending open defecation alone will not reduce stunting phenomenally, as is evident from the experience of Bangladesh.

What can be done on an urgent basis?

  • Convergence of agriculture and nutrition: The awareness of the extent of malnutrition despite agricultural growth has led to a need to converge agriculture and nutrition, necessarily consider the looping relationships along the food supply chain, to strengthen the linkages between agriculture and nutrition.
  • Amalgamate tradition knowledge with scientific technique: at the agricultural level, it aims to amalgamate knowledge of regional food systems and at the consumer level, to foster social and behavioral changes among individuals, especially parents. The mission also seeks to improve linkages between communities and health systems, thus paving the way for a mass movement to promote a transformative change, referred to as the Jan aandolan.
  • Reduce food monotony: as it increases the risk of micronutrient deficiency. So, it is essential to make food and agriculture more nutrition-sensitive and climate-resilient.
  • Conscious food choice: Those who have the capacity to make active food choices will have to be more conscious of their choice of food and its traceability.
  • Climate Resilient crops: Those who cannot choose must be enabled to exercise that choice. Lifestyles in cities pose other dietary problems. Urban food planning needs to incorporate nutritional security and climate resilience.


The programme was conceptualised as one to be implemented in phases. It is, thus, expected that utilisation will increase over the years. A number of activities had a slow start but are now picking up.

Way Forward

  • Poshan Abhiyaan promises to revive traditional food systems across the country while addressing malnutrition.
  • Analyses have shown that in order to achieve zero hunger in India by 2030, India will have to liberate nearly 50,000 people from hunger, every day.
  • To make Hunger free and malnourished free India let’s all join hands to build a New India where our food and crop diversity can be revived and our traditional knowledge leveraged for tackling under- nutrition and malnutrition.
  • The government should give more efforts to synergize biodiversity conservation, agricultural production and local development for healthy diets and a healthy planet.

Mains Question:

 The State governments and the Union Territories utilised a mere 30% of the funds released under the Poshan Abhiyaan. Critically evaluate the statement.


Question Demand:

Question demands to write about nutritional deficiency in the country. What are the steps needed to improve nutrition in the country. Mention about initiatives taken by the government that has helped to improve nutrition in the country.

Introduction: Mention about the need for the State government to proactively involve in taking action to the scheme.


  • Explain the importance of execution of the programme.
  • Issues in improving nutrition in the country.

Conclusion: Suggest the steps need to be adopted in improving nutritional status in the country.

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