NEW DELHI: Industry body CII today made a case for revamping the midday meal and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programmes to improve their implementation and effectively deal with nutrition problem.
Vinita Bali, chairman CII nutrition committee, said that she supports the goal of both these programmes but their implementation needs to be improved.
"We would certainly recommend that we have to look at the structures of the midday meals and the ICDS and put a big emphasis behind it and say how do we improve its efficacy and its delivery," she told PTI.
She said that there is an urgent need to overhaul the complete ecosystem of the delivery of these schemes.
"We have to simply recognise that economic progress can not work in the absence of poor health and nutrition," she added.
Under the midday meal scheme (MDMS), every enrolled child, aged 6-14 years and studying in classes 1 to 8, is provided hot cooked meals having certain notified nutritional standards.
It is a centrally sponsored scheme to boost the universalisation of primary education by increasing enrolment, retention and attendance in primary and upper primary classes.
Similarly, ICDS is an early childhood intervention programme, which was launched by the Centre in 1975. It aims at improving the nutritional and health status of children below the age of six years.
"It is not the goal, it is the implementation of these programmes that we are not seeing the benefits one would have expected to see," she said, adding the midday meal scheme is providing food to about 120 million students.
"Now this is an anecdotal reference (that) if it was working, we would not have had such a poor outcome that we are seeing and part of this thing is the quality of implementation," Bali said.
Further, talking about the importance of nutrition, Bali said there were conclusive evidence that country would lose productivity if the workforce is not healthy and nourished.
"The nutrition problem is a big problem in India. We have to acknowledge that it is a huge problem for the country," she said, adding things have improved but very large proportion of population, specially children, are still malnourished.
In the absence of good health and nutrition, we are going to operate an economy which is under performing, Bali said.
She also said that the problem is very big and neither the government nor the industry and NGOs can solve it alone, "we have to work collaboratively".