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The Government is barking up the wrong tree by continuing to follow failed and outdated nutrition norms for maternal and child nutrition supplementation from aanganwadis.
Mrs Gandhi’s push for prepackaged food instead of hot cooked meals for children and pregnant and lactating women was a bold and correct step. It was aimed at solving three problems in one stroke.
The first problem has existed for years now, and that is the almost universally poor and inconsistent quality of food.
The second is rampant leakages. Thievery of supplies from the Anganwadi center’s . This in turn leads to more of the first problem.
The third is the legacy problem of focus on calorific value and not nutrition! We need to understand that the ICDS, instead of solving malnutrition, is now contributing to it by supplying a whole lot of calories with insufficient macro nutrient or micronutrient balance or density. Mrs Gandhi is right that the focus must shift to adequate “nutrition” and not adequate “food”.
Our children and.mothers, whether they suffer from low BMI or high BMI, are all deficient in a bunch of micronutrients. A very large number are also not getting sufficient protein.
Just throwing poorly balanced food at them with a lot of empty calories from grain is not solving the problem but is contributing to it.
We must deliver prepackaged meals that are nutritionally complete.
I do not agree with Mrs Gandhi’s insistence on soy milk. Her animal protection agenda surely can’t interfere with her job? But other than that, she is right and I wish she had won this battle.