Maneka Gandhi bypassed; nutrition norms cleared

After PMO intervention, NITI Aayog approves guidelines
The NITI Aayog has approved the supplementary nutrition guidelines, prepared by the Ministry for Women and Child Development, bypassing Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi following intervention by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), according to a person familiar with the development. The PMO had stepped in to end a more than yearlong stand-off between Ms. Gandhi and the Ministry’s officials in the wake of sharp differences over the proposed norms.
The disagreement primarily centred around the approaches to food procured as take-home rations and the hot cooked meals served to 10 crore beneficiaries at 14 lakh anganwadis under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
While Ms. Gandhi recommended that take-home rations be procured either from self-help groups (SHGs) that have adequate manufacturing facilities or from government or private undertakings, the officials had favoured sourcing food items prepared with locally available ingredients, solely from SHGs.
That the officials’ position has prevailed is evident from a communication sent by the Ministry’s top official to the PMO and the NITI Aayog, which has been reviewed by The Hindu .
In June, R.K. Shrivastava, Secretary, Women and Child Development, wrote to the PMO about the delay in deciding on the norms and sought its intervention to expedite a decision that would back the officials’ position. The PMO then suggested that the matter be processed through the Cabinet Secretariat and the NITI Aayog. Subsequently, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar approved the guidelines on August 16.
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