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Centre’s order on ‘Poshan’ and Anganwadi workers

Context:

Anganwadi workers in several States are up in arms after a government order threatened them with a pay cut if they did not download the government’s mobile application called Poshan Tracker to record delivery of services by them.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues related to poverty and hunger, Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Initiatives, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of schemes)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Poshan Abhiyaan
  2. Issues of Poshan Abhiyaan
  3. Anganwadi Centres
  4. About the recent directive to AWs and the issues

About Poshan Abhiyaan

  • The term ‘POSHAN’ in the name of the programme stands for ‘Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition’.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan launched in 2018 aims at improving the nutritional status of Children from 0-6 years, Adolescent Girls, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers.
  • According to ‘Mission 25 by 2020’, the National Nutrition Mission aims to achieve a reduction in stunting from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan focuses on convergence among partner Ministries leveraging technology and Jan Andolan among other things, to address issue of malnutrition comprehensively.
  • Near-real time reporting by field functionaries and improved MIS is aimed at smooth implementation of scheme and better service delivery.
  • It also targets stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and low birth rate.
  • It will monitor and review implementation of all such schemes and utilize existing structural arrangements of line ministries wherever available.
  • Its large component involves gradual scaling-up of interventions supported by on-going World Bank assisted Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) to all districts in the country by 2022.
  • Its vision is to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022.
  • Implementation of POSHAN Abhiyaan is based on the four-point strategy/pillars of the mission:
  1. Inter-sectoral convergence for better service delivery
  2. Use of technology (ICT) for real time growth monitoring and tracking of women and children
  3. Intensified health and nutrition services for the first 1000 days
  4. Jan Andolan

Issues of Poshan Abhiyaan

  • Information and communications technology-enabled real time monitoring (ICT-RTM) has been rolled out in POSHAN Abhiyaan districts.
  • This could be ineffective due to the limited capacities of Anganwadi workers (AWs) to handle smartphones owing to their lack of technological literacy.
  • Technical issues like slow servers and data deletion problems, resulting in irregular and improper recording of growth data of children.
  • AWs are the fulcrum of POSHAN Abhiyaan and render vital services to mothers and children in villages.
  • Nearly 40% of AWs had to use their personal money to run the AWCs, 35% of them complained of delayed payments.
  • This makes AWs demotivated and demoralized.

Anganwadi Centres

  • Anganwadis or day-care centres are set up under the centrally sponsored Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme.
  • The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • Anganwadi centres provide a package of six services: supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, immunisation, nutrition and health education, as well as referral services.
  • The primary aim of the scheme is to reduce infant mortality and child malnutrition.
  • Beneficiaries of these centers will be Children in the age group of zero to six years, and pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • It was started by the Government of India In 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition.
  • The beneficiaries under the Anganwadi Services Scheme are identified on the basis of Aadhaar.

About the recent directive to AWs and the issues

  • Anganwadi workers in several States, including Punjab and Haryana  demanded to know who would give them the mobile phones and bear the expenses for recharge as they are now required to download the government’s mobile application called Poshan Tracker to record delivery of services by them.
  • The mobile application and the use of technology for real time growth monitoring and tracking of beneficiaries is the mainstay of the government’s Poshan Abhiyaan or Nutrition Mission.
  • According the protesting AWs, there are nearly 30,000 anganwadi workers affiliated to the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) and none of them have downloaded the Poshan Tracker application because the government has neither given them mobile phones, nor money for recharge.
  • They are also demanding payment of dues totalling approximately ₹40,000 – ₹45,000 per worker in Punjab, which they say have accumulated since the inception of the scheme in March 2018.

-Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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