Recently, the Women and Child Welfare Minister of Madhya Pradesh Government, Smt. Imarti Devi reiterated her proposal to provide eggs to children in anganwadis and pregnant women to fight malnourishment.
What is being proposed now?
The Minister said that she stick to her proposal to provide eggs to children and pregnant women, because eggs are high in nutrition. It would not be compulsory but only for those willing to eat eggs. For vegetarians, alternatives would be available in the form of milk and banana.
Malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh
- Madhya Pradesh is one of the worst affected states by malnourishment, with the state’s tribal population worst affected. According to the National Family Health Survey (NHF-4), at least 42% of children under age five are stunted while another 43% are underweight. Again, 26% are wasted (thin for their height) while 9% are severely wasted.
- The lockdown has disrupted various government schemes for providing nutrition. A survey conducted by the NGO Vikas Samvad in 122 villages of six districts — Rewa, Satna, Panna, Umaria, Niwari and Shivpura — found that the nutrition intake dropped in children (by 51%), pregnant women (67%) and lactating mothers (68%). The majority of the residents in these villages were tribals and SCs.
Why to provide eggs?
Eggs are a complete food that contain all nutrients except vitamin C. For providing a wholesome meal for children, the right combination of various food including dal, rice, fruits and milk will have to be supplied in the right quantity if they are not given eggs.
What is the issue?
Over 40% of Madhya Pradesh’s population is vegetarian. The proposal has faced stiff opposition from various communities, notably the Jain community. In a post on social media, Jain community leaders have warned that only those parents who wished to have their children fed eggs should vote for Imarti Devi.
How many states provide eggs to children at anganwadi centres?
At least 14 states have so far been providing eggs as a part of the ICDS. According to the National Baseline Survey of 2014, in nine of these 14 states — Telangana, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Kerala — 95% of the population is non-vegetarian. In the remaining five states — Tripura, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Chhattisgarh — over 70% of the population is non-vegetarian.