ICDS in India: Policy, Design and Delivery Issues

  • Naresh C. Saxena
  • Nisha Srivastava
Volume 40 Number 4
Published: July 1, 2009
India's excellent economic growth in the last two decades has made little impact on the nutrition levels of its children. Its main intervention, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme, has not yet succeeded in reducing child malnutrition. The programme is reaching less than one‐third of all children. ICDS also faces substantial operational challenges, such as lack of monitoring. The article discusses the flaws in the design of ICDS, and suggests practical measures to improve its implementation. It argues that the basic nature of the ICDS scheme should be changed from centre‐based to outreach‐based, with a focus on children under two years old. The emphasis should be on the difficult tasks of changing child‐rearing practices, and the control and treatment of infectious diseases. The article argues against provision of packaged food, as this is unpopular with young children and has led to corruption.
From Issue: Vol. 40 No. 4 (2009) | Lifting the Curse: Overcoming Persistent Undernutrition in India