Institute for Social and Economic Change

Working Paper: 318

Integrated Child Development Services in India –
A Sub-national Review

Jonathan Gangbar,
Pavithra Rajan
K Gayithri



The Integrated Child Development Services is India’s flagship programme aimed at addressing the holistic needs of the child. Since its inception in 1975, the programme has continued to experience a policy-implementation gap that has greatly hindered the effectiveness of the programme. Factors contributing to this gap can be attributed to poor resource allocation, poor governance and programmatic deficiencies. Furthermore, in 2001, the ICDS programme was mandated by the supreme court to be universalized. This has placed the added burden on implementing bodies to establish the programme nationwide, while trying to improve service quality. Although funding has been substantially increased in the years following universalization, the programme continues to struggle. That being said, programme effectiveness is not contingent upon increased funding; but rather the efficacy of the programme relies upon efficient allocation and utilization of adequate resources.. A sub-national review of the ICDS programme has revealed that the financial provision for the ICDS programme by both Central and State authorities is disproportionate to the norms of the policy. Poorer regions with higher levels of malnutrition have received less funding as compared to the wealthier regions with better nutrition status over time. Although there have been marginal improvements in the nutritional status of ICDS beneficiaries over time, there seems to be an increasing gap in the nutrition status between wealthier and less affluent regions of the country. There is a need to further examine how well Central and State authorities are using their resources to achieve intended programme outputs and outcomes.

Working Papers