While the Centre has been emphasising on ‘holistic nutrition’ with the Poshan Abhiyaan through lost recipes and traditional regional cuisines for mothers and children, a union minister says West Bengal has not participated in this mission since 2018.
Prime Minister's Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition (Poshan) or National Nutrition Mission is the Centre's flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
It was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of the International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018, from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan. The aim of the mission is to cover all children and mothers in a mission-mode way.
Speaking to the News18.com, Debasree Chaudhuri, minister of state for woman and child development, said, “Under this holistic nutrition mission we are giving more focus on healthy lost recipes and traditional regional cuisines for mothers and children. There are hundreds of recipes which are healthy but nowadays some of them are losing their identity. Therefore we are promoting those recipes under the banner of ‘Local for Poshan’ which our mothers and grandmothers used to make.”
She said, “Unfortunately, West Bengal is not part of this mission since 2018 when it was launched by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji. We have sent letters requesting the Bengal government to be a part of this unique initiative but they have rejected it every time. But we have decided to take this service in Bengal through ‘Anganwadi’ workers so that people of Bengal can also take part in this noble initiative.”
While explaining more on ‘Local for Poshan’, she said, “Every state has its unique recipes which are traditional and healthy to eat. We are trying to promote those regional cuisines. For example, in Bengal, we are promoting ‘Murir Moa’ (crunchy puffed rice laddu), ‘Shukto’ (a rich stew of stir-fry vegetables, cooked in mustard oil and spiced with panch phoron, which is a blend of five spices, and ginger paste and chillies). These are healthy foods. Similar recipes are also there in other states but losing their popularity due to fast-food culture. Through this ‘Local for Poshan’ mission we want to bring back those recipes on the platter of mother and child for a healthy India.”
As per a study in The Lancet, nearly 68 per cent of under-five deaths in India is due to child and maternal malnourishment. Also, nearly 83 per cent of neonatal deaths is due to short gestation and low birthweight.
The ‘Local for Poshan’ plan drew praise from across sections of society and politicians from other states as well.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma tweeted, “Reviewed the implementation of ‘Poshan Maah’ in our districts with DCs & officials. Happy to see a significant improvement in the weight of children from 63 to 76 from July to August. DCs to ensure that underperforming Blocks improve their performance in the coming months. let's celebrate #PoshanMaah2020 by promoting our regional foods. Together, as a nation, let us go #Local4Poshan & pledge to initiate every measure to improve the nutritional status of our children & mothers.”
Minister of state of for youth affairs and sports Kiren Rijiju wrote on Twitter, “On this #POSHANMaah2020 let us all contribute to the vision of Hon'ble PM @narendramodi ji in creating a strong, fit and malnutrition-free India. Share the recipes of your favourite traditional food or of your family on http://innovate.mygov.in/poshanrecipe and be #Local4Poshan.”
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu tweeted, “Give our children a healthy start through adequate nutrition. Let us build a strong, healthy and nutritious India. Let us rediscover the essential goodness of local delicacies. Create a recipe for the success of the Poshan Abhiyan. #POSHANMaah2020.”
While encouraging everyone to participate in the mission, union minister for women and child development Smriti Irani wrote on Facebook, “Your contribution to Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh will not only help government of India populate database with some well-known/lots of lesser known Indian dishes but will also give variety of nutritious food options which are local in nature.”
When contacted, minister of state (independent charge), department of women and child development and social welfare, West Bengal, Dr Shashi Panja, said, “We have already established our state nutrition mission in 2017 and under the leadership of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, we have done remarkably well in reducing the malnutrition index in the state. Not the least, we are also giving morning snacks to children and take-home ration in addition to the meals they are getting at the ICDS centres. Why will we implement a mission mode programme which is already there in the state? The malnutrition index before 2011 in Bengal was 34.43 per cent and as per the statistics in February 2020 it came down to 6.47 per cent.”