By Akash Agarwal, Amity Law School, Noida.

ICDS is one of the most successful welfare schemes established by the Ministry of Women and Child Development under the sole guidance of Government of India. ICDS, an integrated community and family welfare scheme had its inception on 2nd October 1975 with 33 projects all over the country. Since Independence, the children of India have been living in a deplorable condition facing harassment, malnutrition, bondage labour etc. They have witnessed an abysmal childhood without even having basic amenities of life like healthy food, clean water and proper clothes. They have lost expectation of their bright future in dark slums full of dust, dirt and dismal. Women and Children are the most backward community in India because they have not been provided importance in society, so suffered from ignorance.

With the aim to ameliorate the doleful condition of women and children in society, to provide them their due place and importance, the ICDS along with various other schemes are working for.


A. The main objectives of ICDS are summarised as follows:

  • To advance the nutritional and health standing of children in the age-group 0-6 years.
  • To create a system that tackles the proper psychological, physical and social development of the child.
  • To fight the rate of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout.
  • To have all the various ministries and departments work in a coordinated fashion to achieve policy implementation and create an effective ECCE system.
  • To support the mother and help her become capable of providing of the necessary nutritional and development needs of the child and aware of her own needs during pregnancy.
  • Lay the foundation for the proper psychological, physical and social.
  • Reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity malnutrition and school dropouts.
  • Achieve effective coordinates of policy and implementation among various departments to promote child development.
  • Enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of child, through proper health and nutrition education.

B. To achieve the above mentioned objectives, services provided in lieu of this scheme are as follows:

  • Supplementary Nutrition for children below 6 years and Pregnant & Lactating Mother (P&LM)
  • Immunization for Children below 6 years and Pregnant & Lactating Mother (P&LM)
  • Health Check-Up for children below 6 years and Pregnant & Lactating Mother (P&LM)
  • Referral Services for Children below 6 years and Pregnant & Lactating Mother (P&LM)
  • Pre-School Non-Formal Education for children 3-6 years
  • Nutrition & Health Education for women (15-45 years) 

C. Rapid facility Survey by NCAER: 

The National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) conducted a Rapid Facility Survey on ICDS infrastructure in 2004. The report submitted by NCAER in February, 2005 has, inter-alia, brought out that;

  • More than 40 per cent AWCs (Anganwadi Centres) across the country are neither housed in ICDS building nor in rented buildings. One-third of the Anganwadis are housed in ICDS building and another one-fourth are housed in rented buildings;
  • As regards the status of Anganwadi building, irrespective of own or rented, more than 46 per cent of the Anganwadis were running from pucca building, 21 per cent from semi-pucca building, 15 per cent from kutcha building and more than 9% running from open space;
  • It is quite encouraging to observe that average number of children registered at the Anganwadi centre is 52 for boys and 75 for girls;
  • The survey data reveal that more than 45 per cent Anganwadis have no toilet facility and 40 per cent have reported the availability of only urinal;
  • Of the 39 per cent Anganwadis reporting availability of handpumps, half of the handpumps were provided by the Gram Panchayat and 12 per cent provided by the ICDS;
  • Regarding the provision of services at the Anganwadi centres, more than 90 per cent Centres provided supplementary food, 90 per cent provided pre-school education and 76 per cent weighed children for growth monitoring;
  • Only 50 per cent Anganwadis reported providing referral services, 65 per cent health check-up of children, 53 per cent for health check-up of women and more than 75 for nutrition and health education;
  • Average number of days in a month in which services are provided at the Anganwadi centres are 24 for supplementary food, 28 for pre-school education and 13 for Nutrition and health education;
  • More than 57 per cent of Anganwadi centres reported availability of ready-to-eat food and 46 per cent availability of uncooked food at the Anganwadi centres;
  • Nearly three-fourth of the Anganwadis have reported the availability of medical kits and baby weighing scale. On the other hand adult weighing scale has been reported only by 49 per cent of the Anganwadis

D. International Partners:

Government of India partners with the following international agencies to supplement interventions under the ICDS:

  • United Nations International Children’ Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
  • Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE)
  • World Food Programme (WFP)

UNICEF supports the ICDS by providing technical support for the development of training plans, organizing of regional workshops and dissemination of best practices of ICDS. It also assists in service delivery and accreditation system where the capacity of ICDS functionary is strengthened. Impact assessment in selected States on early childhood nutrition and development, micro-nutrient and anemia control through Vit. ‘A’ supplementations and deworming interventions for children in the age group of 9-59 months is also conducted by UNICEF from time to time.

CARE is primarily implementing some non-food projects in areas of maternal and child health, girl primary education, micro-credit etc. Integrated Nutrition and Health Project (INHP)-III, which is a phaseout programme of INHP series would come to an end on 31.12.2009.

WFP has been extending assistance to enhance the effectiveness and outreach of the ICDS Scheme in selected districts (Tikamgarh & Chhattarpur in Madhya Pradesh, Koraput, Malkangir & Nabrangpur in Orissa, Banswara in Rajasthan and Dantewada in Chhattisgarh), notably, by assisting the State Governments to start and expand production of low cost micronutrient fortified food known as ‘Indiamix’. Under this the concerned State Government are required to contribute to the cost of Indiamix by matching the WFP wheat contribution at a 1:1 cost sharing ratio.

Impact of ICDS:

By end of 2010, the programme has reached 80.6 lakh expectant and lactating mothers along with 3.93 crore children (under 6 years of age). There are 6,719 operational projects with 1,241,749 operational Aanganwadi centres.

Therefore, it is expected that ICDS will prove fruitful in its effort and will accomplish the objectives for which it was formed.