Declining rate of malnutrition and socio-economic empowerment of women in Chhattisgarh is clearly indicating towards the bright future of state. The days are not too far, when Chhattisgarh will be known as a healthy, well-organized and developed state. It is quite obvious that there is no limit to development of a state, where interest and all-round development of children, teenagers and women is the top priority. Under the competent leadership of Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh, several schemes and programmes are being operated for betterment of women along with physical, mental and intellectual development of children in state. Special attention is paid towards improvement of health and nutrition level of women and children in state. State Government has taken several commendable initiatives to empower women by protecting their legal rights and by making them aware of the laws and schemes for their betterment. Recently, Chief Minister Dr Singh has taken an appreciable decision of organizing marriages of widow women under Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah Yojana, with a noble aim of encouraging widow remarriage. Moreover, the provision of spending double amount i.e. Rs 30,000 on widow remarriage has been included under the scheme.
It is the health condition of women and children that determines the health of a society. This is the reason why State Government’s Women and Child Development Department is operating anganbadi centres in far-flung areas of state so as to provide better health and nutrition facility to women and children there. It is noteworthy that in the tribal populated hilly and forested areas of state, where it is not possible to open anganbadi centres as per the population norms of Central Government, state government is conducting 285 phulwari centres in such 14 IAP districts to provide health and nutrition services similar to that of an anganbadi centre. Presently, number of anganbadi and mini-anganbadi centres operating in state is 49,830, which were only 20,000 in year 2003. Likewise, the number of beneficiaries of anganbadi centres at present has also also increased by 80 per cent, compared to what it was in year 2003. In year 2003, the number of beneficiaries of anganbadi centres was nearly 13.5 lakh, which has increased significantly to 25.49 lakhs at present.
To strengthen and reorganize the integrated child development services, the amount spend per day on distribution of nutritious supplement food to beneficiaries at anganbadi centres has been increased. Th amount spent per day on each beneficiary child suffering from malnutrition has been increased from Rs 6 to Rs 9. Moreover, the amount spent per day per beneficiary on pregnant or lactating mothers has been increased from Rs 5 to Rs 7 and that on normal children has been increased from Rs 4 to Rs 6. Besides, significant steps are being taken to develop anganbadi centres as an effective centre of health and nutrition for village. Such steps include – working time of anganbadi centres increased from 4 hours to 6 hours, improvement in quality of education imparted at anganbadi centres, every second Wednesday of a month observed as Early Childhood Care and Education Day and improvement in services provided through anganbadi centres, etc.
To strengthen the child protection system of state and to make children of Chhattisgarh healthy and well-nourished, several schemes including integrated child protection scheme, Mukhymantri Bal Sandarbh Yojana and Nava Jatan Yojana are being operated. Consistent efforts of Chhattisgarh Government have significantly brought down the level of malnutrition. As per the data collected in Vazan Tyohar of year 2014, level of malnutrition in state has declined to 33 per cent. As per the National Family Health Survey, malnutrition in state was 52 per cent in year 2005-06. In this way, level of malnutrition has decreased by nearly 19 per cent in last seven and a half year.
With a strong belief on their competence, State Government has entrusted women self-help groups of the state with the 100 per cent responsibility of preparing and distributing ready-to-eat food, hot-cooked meal and breakfast to anganbadi centres. Nearly 1,568 women self-help groups are conducting the work of ready-to-eat food preparation and distribution. Likewise, distribution of snakes and hot-cooked meal is looked after by 22,226 women self-help groups of state. In anganbadi centres, children of age-group 6 months to three years as well as pregnant and lactating mothers are provided ready-to-eat food, murra laddoos and double fortified salt through take-home-ration system. Moreover, the children of age group 3-6 years are provided breakfast and hot-cooked meal as per the decided menu. The amount for medicine kit distributed at anganbadi centre has also been increased from Rs 600 to Rs 1000. For all round development of teenage girls, Sabla Yojana is conducted in 10 districts of state while in other districts, Kishori Shakti Yojana is operated.
Chhattisgarh Mahila Kosh is operated in state to provide financial aid to women for self-employment activities. Under the scheme, women self-help groups are at first provided loan of upto Rs 50 thousand at nominal annual interest of 3 per cent, and then loan of upto Rs 2 lakh is provided to them. Till date, more than 25 thousand women self help groups have taken loans worth Rs 41 crore 60 lakh 90 thousand for business activities. Likewise, with the help of saksham yojana, more than 800 women have become financially self-dependent. Moreover, schemes like Swavlamban Yojana, Skill Improvement Training Scheme and Entreprenuer Awareness Programme are also operated to provide financial aid and skill improvement assistance to women. Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah Yojana has played an important role in relieving poor families from financial expenses of their daughters’ marriage. Under this scheme, about 54 thousand girls of state have tied nuptial knot. Women Awareness Camps are organized at Gram Panchayat, Janpad and District level to create awareness among women regarding their legal rights and provisions. Integrated Support Programme Parijaat has been started in state to provide support, rehabilitation, medical aid, counseling services and reference services etc to mentally-ill, depressed and other grieve-striken women.
Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, Chhattisgarh Tonhi Atrocity Redressal Act- 2005 and Protection of Children from Sexual Crimes Act 2012 are in effect in Chhattisgarh. Moreover, School Education Department is operating schemes like free bicycle distribution scheme, free textbook distribution scheme, Labour Department is operating free bicycle and sewing machine distribution scheme for female labourers and Higher Education Department’s decision to provide dew higher education to girl students are proving beneficial in all-round development of girls of women in state. State Government has lived up to its commitment towards security, protection and development of women and children by effectively implementing various schemes, programmes and laws. It is the result of state government’s consistent efforts that level of malnutrition in children has declined, number of girls students in schools have increased significantly and socio-economic development of women has paced up
*Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of INVC.