POSHAN Abhiyaan: Making Nutrition a Jan Andolan

  • Vinod K Paul
  • Anamika Singh
  • Sneha Palit
Keywords: Nutrition


The launch of the POSHAN Abhiyaan has successfully brought back the focus on one of the biggest challenges India currently faces- the burden of malnutrition. The impact of malnutrition on health, well-being, productivity and longevity is well-known. It is estimated that for every $1 spent on health and nutrition, the returns are as much as $16.

Despite several programmes targeted towards improving the health and nutrition of women and children, we have not been able to solve this problem. The ICDS programme is our primary intervention in this area. However, despite being implemented for decades now, the results of the programme are sub-optimal at best. One out of every third child under 5 years of age continues to be undernourished whereas one in every two women is affected by anaemia. In order to secure the well-being of our children, fully realize our growth potential and capitalize on the demographic dividend; we need drastic reductions in the prevalence of malnutrition.

This paper analyses the reasons due to which undernutrition continues to remain a threat and presents the current strategy of the government to curb it. It argues that without channelizing cross-sectoral interventions towards the first 1000 days, achieving geographic and programmatic convergence and creating a jan andolan, success in this area is unlikely.


Bhutta Z A (2013) Early nutrition and adult outcomes: Pieces of
the puzzle Lancet 382 (9891)
Smith L and Haddad L (2014) Reducing Child Under-nutrition:
Past Drivers and Priorities for the Post MDG Era, IDS
Working Papers 441 1-47
Save the Children (2017) Report on Stolen Childhoods: End of
Childhood, Save the Children, United States https://
Galasso & Wagstaff (2015) The Economic Costs of Stunting &
How to Reduce Them, Policy Research Note, World Bank
NFHS (2017), 4th National Family Health Survey 2015-16, IIPS,
2017 http://rchiips.org/nfhs/factsheet_NFHS-4.shtml
Keefe (2016) “Nutrition and Equality: Brazil’s Success in Reducing
Stunting among the Poorest”, Chapter II in Nourishing
Millions: Stories of Change in Nutrition, IFPRI, 99-105
Marini & Rokx (2016) “Standing Tall- Peru’s Success in
Overcoming its Stunting Crisis”, World Bank 37-39
Report on China’s Implementation of MDGs (2000-2015), Joint
Report by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Peoples’ Republic
of China & United Nation System in China, p 16
Headey D, Hoddinott J, Ali D, Tesfaye R and Dereje M (2015)
The other Asian enigma: explaining the rapid reduction of
undernutrition in Bangladesh World Development 66 749-
Black R E, Victora C G, Walker S P, Bhutta Z A, Christian P, de
Onis M, et al. (2013) Maternal and child under-nutrition
and over-weight in low-income and middle-income
countries Lancet 382 (9890) 427-451
Census (2011) Marital Status and Age, Office of Registrar General
and Census Commissioner, Government of India http://
Nisbett N, Gillespie S, Haddad L and Harris J (2014) Why worry
about the politics of childhood under-nutrition? World
Development 64 420-433
NITI Aayog (2017) Nourishing India: National Nutrition Strategy,
NITI Aayog, Government of India http://niti.gov.in/
PIB (2017) Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Government
of India http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=
PIB (2018) Ministry of Women & Child Development,
Government of India http://pib.nic.in/newsite/
NITI Aayog (2018) Aspirational Districts Programme, NITI
Aayog, Government of India http://www.niti.gov.in/
Bhutta Z A, et al. (2013) “Evidence-based interventions for
improvement of maternal and child nutrition: what can be
done and at what cost?” The Lancet 382 9890: 452-477.