New Delhi: Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani on Friday urged MPs to adopt and encourage the concept of “tithi bhojan” in which children taking mid-day meals in government schools and anganwadis are provided special meals to coincide with special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Irani made the remarks in Lok Sabha after Speaker Om Birla urged the MPs that nutrition campaign will start in September and they should make it a mass movement through public participation to end malnutrition.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the leader of the House, has also decided that the country should be ridden of malnutrition.
Irani said the House had discussed steps for the security of children and the Speaker had now initiated talks over nutritional challenge faced by the women and children in the country.
She said World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from August 1 to 7 every year and the first 1000 days in the life of a child can save him from malnutritionShe said breastfeeding should be encouraged so that and the child gets nutritious milk in the first hour from the mother.
The minister said members can keep a check on whether breastfeeding week was being observed properly in their constituencies.
She said Modi’s concern for malnutrition was not new and he had taken steps against it as Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Irani said he had initiated the concept of “tithi bhojan” and MPs can adopt the concept that does not incur an extra cost.
Irani said as Human Resource Minister in 2015 she had urged states and MPs to accept the concept.
She said families spend money on celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and said a similar amount of money can be spent in providing a special mid-day meal (tithi bhojan) to children in government schools and anganwadis under mid-day meal scheme.
She said the MPs can also involve others in propagating the concept which was voluntary.
She said if MPs take the initiative, others in their constituencies will follow suit.
Referring to the Speaker talking about public participation to tackle malnutrition, she said 14 lakh field functionaries were working across all states and had undertaken 7075 projects under the Poshan Abhiyan.
She said 15 ministries were working for the success of Poshan Abhiyan.
Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the work on tackling malnutrition started after Independence and successive governments had tackled it through programmes such as ICDS.
He said the government wants to take credit for everything.
Speaker did not allow him to continue after which Congress members staged a walkout.