History of ICDS


Tamil Nadu has been a pioneer of nutrition programmes, which has had a long history in the state. The Noon Meal Programme (NMP) for school children was started way back in 1925 in the Madras Corporation, with the intention to provide supplementary nutrition to the schoolgoing children. Under this historic programme, elementary school-going children were provided noon meals for 200 days in a year. The post-independence period brought many changes in the NMP in Tamil Nadu owing to the state government’s emphasis on provision of education along with nutrition in an attempt to increase school enrolment rate, curtail dropout rates, improve nutritional levels of children, and combat the problem of malnutrition. Most significantly, all feeding programmes have now been subsumed under a single scheme (Tamil Nadu – NMP). The major financial assistance for this scheme has come from CARE, an international organization.

The Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) was introduced in rural areas of Tamil Nadu in 1925 for preschool children in the age group of 2 to 5 years and for primary school children in the age group of 5 to 9 years. Later, in 1982, the then Chief Minister, M. G. Ramachandran (MGR), launched one of the largest expansions of this programme through the Chief Minister’s Nutritious Noon Meals Programme, which was solely targeted to combat hunger and get children to school. From September 1982, this scheme was extended to urban areas and even old-age pensioners were covered from January 1983. From September 1984, the scheme covered school students of 10–15 years of age, and from December 1995, pregnant women were also brought under the scheme.

While, initially, feeding programmes may have been started to combat hunger in a visible, centre-based fashion, over the years, the government in Tamil Nadu has made serious attempts to combine provision of food under the Noon Meal Programme (NMP) with other services like health care, immunization, growth monitoring, prenatal and postnatal care for women, communication, and nutrition education. This has been done through two main nutrition and child development programmes: the ICDS, which started as a small pilot in 1976, and the Tamil Nadu Integrated Nutrition Project (TINP), phase I of which was begun in 1980. As both these nutrition schemes expanded, they were integrated with the Noon Meal Programme infrastructure for preschoolers.

In 1994, the State Policy on Nutrition was drafted and given technical support from UNICEF. Tamil Nadu is probably the first state to have such a policy, following the National Nutrition Policy in 1993. It needs to be noted that there has been constant improvement in the supply of food under the MDMS in Tamil Nadu. For the development of the MDMS, the Government of Tamil Nadu had both national and international assistance. The national assistance was provided by the central government and the international assistance by CARE and World Bank.

The TINP second phase was introduced in 1989 on a pilot basis with financial assistance from the World Bank. During this period, TINP-I operated in 173 rural blocks and TINP-II covered 316 blocks. In the second phase, the programme covered twice the number of blocks as that of the first phase. While phase-I of TINP only covered ICDS areas, phase-II was concentrated in the non-ICDS areas. From 1998 onwards, the TINP was renamed as the World Bank- ICDS-III and covered 19,500 centres. TINP was jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of Tamil Nadu.

TINP-II was renamed as the WB-ICDS-III from 1998 onwards, since it was supported by World Bank funding for the purpose of removing malnutrition among children of the state. Thus, between the two services, that is, the general ICDS and WB-ICDS III, all rural blocks in the state have in place integrated services for child development for children under 6 years, and most urban areas are also covered under ICDS.

With a strong push towards universalization of the ICDS programme, the services of the ICDS have been steadily extended to serve unreached habitations, underserved populations and hard to reach areas of the state. The scheme is currently implemented through 49,499 childcare centres (anganwadi centres) and 4,940 mini-centres, amounting to a total of 54,439 centres functioning under 434 ICDS projects. Out of 434 projects, 47 projects are in urban areas, two projects are in tribal areas and 385 projects are in rural areas (Policy Note 2013–2014 Social Welfare and Nutritious Noon Meal Programme, Chennai

Expansion of ICDS Centres in Tamil Nadu

1975–80General ICDS23,177
1981–97WB assisted TINP – I & II42,677
2006–07Expansion phase I45,726
2007–08Expansion phase II50,433
2009–10Expansion phase III54,439

Services of ICDS Based on Age Group

Conception– 6 monthsMaternity, immunization, antenatal care and postnatal care
7–12 monthsSupplementary Nutrition Programme immunization, health services
13–24 monthsSupplementary Nutrition Programme (egg)
25–36 monthsRegular ICDS services and SNP (three eggs)


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