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19 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Integrated Child Development Scheme: A paradigm of Uplifting People’s Standard of Living

The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) was launched in 1975 and since then it has been working assiduously to mop up hazards to child health and development. It comes under the purview of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD). The ICDS aims to meet the below mentioned objectives:

  • To fight the rate of morbidity, mortality, school dropout and malnutrition
  • To create a system that tackles the proper physical, social and psychological development of child.
  • To enable mother to meet the nutritional and developmental needs of the child and make her aware of her own needs during pregnancy.
  • To advance the nutritional and health standard of children in the age-group 0-6 years
  • To have all the various ministries and departments work in a coordinated fashion to attain policy implementation and create an effective ECCE system.

The scheme aims at providing an integrated package of services including medical check-ups, supplementary nutrition, recommendation services, immunization, nutrition & health awareness and preschool and non-formal education. These services are provided as package as each of these issues are interdependent. To ascertain that the overall care and education of child is addressed, the scheme is envisioned by the MWCD as a complete parcel of provisions.

ICDS is funded by central and implemented through the States and Union Territories. Except for the supplementary nutrition which must be provided by the state’s resources, the scheme financially is 100% backed up by the Central Government. But many of the States due to economic slowdown, drought and alike conditions were not capable of providing adequately for supplementary nutrition so central government decided to support the States up to 50% of their economic norms or to support 50% of expenses acquired by them on supplementary nutrition, whichever is less. The reason behind Central assistance for supplementary nutrition was to ascertain that all beneficiaries are getting the supplements for 300 days of the year which has been explicitly laid down in the norms of the scheme.

In case of non-supplementary expenses, the central government is now responsible only for 90% in all States and Union Territories instead of 100%. Financial year 2009-2010 saw change in sharing ratio between North-eastern states and Centre which had been changed from 50:50 to 90:10. In other states, with regard to the supplementary nutrition, the pattern remains unchanged which is 50:50. Anganwadi's have been instituted considering population in a given area.

The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) has not fully attained its objective but the scheme has immensely helped children across the length and breadth of the country to get the better of hapless situation they were into. Implementation of the plan can uplift the living standard and bring about radical changes in the lives of poor people. But now since central as well as state government both have cottoned on to the fact that together they can stamp out the menace of poverty though systematic and corruption free implementation of the various such ambitious plans , the chances of ICDS to be successful has surged many times.

19 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)

Role played by NGOs

  • A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a not-for-profit organization that is independent from states and international governmental organisations. They are usually funded by donations but some avoid formal funding altogether and are run primarily by volunteers.
  • NGOs play a very important role in the entire development process. They have a unique connect with grassroots and hence, play an important part in making development inclusive
  • NGOs are important partners of the State in the various stages of policy advocacy, development, implementation and auditing too

Issues/Areas of Concern

  • The present crackdown on foreign-funded NGOs in India began after the Intelligence Bureau submitted a report on NGOs in 2015 whereby NGOs are restricting India’s developmental projects.
    • The report, which was leaked to the press, claimed that the work of ‘anti-national, foreign funded NGOs’ working on issues related to nuclear projects,genetically modified organisms, mining and other big projects, had led to a decline of 2-3 per cent in the country’s GDP growth rate
  • Only about 10 % of the total 22 lakh registered NGOs file annual income and expenditure statements, as revealed by CBI
  • Some NGOs are also allegedly fronts for foreign supported extremist or secessionist groups
  • Allegations of use of foreign funds for religious conversions have also been made
  • There have been many reports of misappropriation of funds by NGOs and lack of transparency in their functioning

Provisions of FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) with respect to NGOs

  • The Act seeks to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution and hospitality
  • Under the law, the Central Government has the power to prohibit from accepting foreign contribution or hospitality for activities detrimental to national interests or national security

Recent Government rules and regulations

  • The Government has over the past 2 years sought to check misappropriation of funds and “anti-national” activities by using provisions of the FCRA
  • The government has also cancelled the licenses of a number of NGOs for failing to comply with FCRA

Provisions of new Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules, 2015

  • stipulate that NGOs must not use foreign funds for activities "detrimental to national interest"
    • The terms public interest, ‘security, scientific, strategic or economic interest’ has been provided, opening the door, NGOs say, to official action against a whole range of activities that are otherwise legal under Indian law.
  • Require NGOs to register themselves online and report receipt of any foreign funds within 7 days
    • Logistical difficulty; NGOs don’t have the requisite resources
    • Earlier, only donations above 1 crore were needed to be specified annually
  • The govt later toned down this provision- reporting to be quarterly instead
  • Similarly stricter rules for disclosure, of funds for NGOs, by banks have been made; within 48 HOURS
  • All dealings with NGOs to be online; NGOs required to register online at government portal.
    • Streamlined registration, renewal of licenses and permissions for NGOs
  • NGOs have to reveal the details of their social media accounts, and disclose whether their office bearers are part of other NGOs, to help in profiling them
    • The provision was later made optional; besides govt would help NGOs host websites

NGOs need to register with NITI Aayog

  • Centre has made obtaining unique identification numbers and registering NGOs on the NITI Aayog portal, including the details of the Aadhaar and PAN numbers of all their trustees and office- bearers, mandatory for applying for grants from any ministry.
  • It was also decided that a system should be developed to give unique entity numbers to charitable trusts and societies.
  • Significantly, a June 26 government notification said if an NGO receives government funding in excess of Rs 1 crore, those handling its day-to-day operations will be treated as public servants under the Lokpal and Lok Ayukta Act (2013).In case of foreign funding, this limit was pegged at Rs 10 lakh a year.
    • The notification also said that managers, directors, board members of NGOs will have to declare their personal assets, jewellery, cash, moveable and immoveable property by July 31.
    • They will also be subject to rules and regulations for government officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
    • The notification has caused considerable consternation in the community raising fears of excessive control by the Centre, though officials maintain the order is only to pave the way for making NGOs accountable

Issues/problems with the regulations

  • Registration and compliance with the rules and regulations will take up substantial resources for NGOs
  • compliance with such detailed regulations will especially be difficult for small NGOs
  • Centre has also faced ire internationally due the clamp down on NGOs

Way forward

  • NGOs should try to build and regain lost public trust by better transparency in functioning
    • External auditing
    • Increased Information disclosure
    • Accountability while using public funds
  • Govt must act both as an enabling medium and a regulator for checking malpractices
    • Enabler
      • Easier mechanisms to avail tax benefits, registration etc.
      • Training of govt. officials for constructive relations with NGOs as per National policy on voluntary sector
      • Joint consultative Groups comprising of NGOs and relevant administrative bodies- for better engagement
    • Regulator
      • Enforcing laws but in true spirit
      • Handle the component of engineered dissent in an exemplary manner
      • Need to handle public perception about development initiatives; give a counter narrative rather than refuting the current narrative of “clamp down on NGOs”
  • Greater transparency and accountability for NGOs
    • Greater disclosures by NGOs; Maybe RTI- for NGOs through which Govt. programmes are being outsourced
    • National regulatory agency for NGOs
    • Encourage social audits of their projects and initiatives.
19 August 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article discuss about the poor healthcare system in India and the way forward.

  • India’s healthcare system is underfinanced and relies too heavily on out-of-pocket (OoP) spending.
  • According to India’s draft National Health Policy 2015, the country’s OoP expenditure for health (at 60% of total health expenditure) is one of the highest in the world.
  • Linked to these expenses, 55 million Indians fell into a poverty trap because of their healthcare spending during 2011-12.
  • We need, initiation of the ‘National Health Assurance Mission’ to provide universal, accessible and affordable healthcare—and to give high priority to chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular disease by investing in research and development of solutions. Unfortunately, not enough has happened at the ground level yet.

The challenges

  • Low government spending:
    • Global evidence on health spending shows that unless a country spends at least 5-6% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health—and the major part of it is from government expenditure—basic healthcare needs are seldom met. In India, public spending on health is 1.1% of GDP.
  • Low insurance penetration:
    • There is also very low health insurance coverage in the country. About 300 million people or 25% of India’s population is covered with some form of health insurance, according to the World Bank.
    • According to the latest National Sample Survey Organisation Survey on Health and Morbidity (2014), only 13% of the population is covered by government-funded insurance schemes.
  • Complex system:
    • The healthcare financing system in India is highly fragmented and has multiple components and models. Tax-financed healthcare systems provide primary to tertiary level of care.
    • Several publicly managed insurance schemes cater to government employees, while the private insurance sector largely caters to higher income groups, mostly employed in the private sector.
    • Unfortunately, most of these insurance plans are largely limited to covering inpatient hospital care as opposed to primary care medications needed to treat chronically ill patients.
  • Changing disease profile:
    • Another important factor is that over the past 10-15 years, India’s disease burden has shifted from communicable to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This is thanks to urbanization, industrialization and fast-paced socioeconomic development, and because infectious diseases have been brought under control.
    • Poverty is a significant risk factor for contracting NCDs, and these diseases in turn can quickly lead to personal financial crises.
    • Unfortunately, while NCDs are now recognized as a significant threat, there is a dearth of solutions. According to the latest figures available, in 2015-16, only 3% of the total health budget was earmarked for NCD programmes.
  • The way ahead:
    • Investing in health is a no-brainer. A healthy population is the engine behind sustainable economic growth; the alternative is a growing economic burden.
    • An increase in healthcare spending should be considered an investment, not a cost.
    • India desperately needs a holistic care system that is universally accessible, affordable and at the same time effectively reduces OoP expenditure.
    • Increasing private investment in healthcare for broader and more comprehensive insurance is necessary.
    • Developing subscription-based primary healthcare clinics and plans are also options. At the same time, it is important to come up with viable mechanisms that will exempt the poor from payments and provide them both health and financial protection.
  • Other steps:
    • Strengthening tertiary tier healthcare;
    • Developing local health systems to be able to screen the maximum number of people; Providing extensive diagnostics and free essential drugs;
    • Offering disease-specific insurance schemes;
    • Providing coverage even to those in unorganized sectors; using corporate social responsibility involvement to strengthen healthcare;
    • Switching focus from patient care to preventive care, will all go a long way.


India desperately needs a holistic care system that is universally accessible, affordable and at the same time effectively reduces OoP expenditure. A healthy population is the engine behind economic growth; the alternative is a growing economic burden. Comment.

Suggested Approach:

  • Current problems with the healthcare system.
  • How healthcare system will improve economic parameters.
  • Suggestions to improve healthcare system.


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