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Our history

Milestones in the history of UNICEF's work in India.

From 1949-Present

1)  Milk Feeding Programme
Partition takes its toll, soon after Independence the Government of India launches a milk-feeding programme for refugee children, UNICEF assists in this programme.

2) India’s first Penicillin Plant Established
1949 - India’s first penicillin plant set up at Pimpri; it is the first public sector undertaking in the Drugs & Pharmaceutical Sector. UNICEF provides equipment and technical assistance.

3) India’s first DDT Plant Established 
1954 – India’s first DDT plant set up to supply National Malaria Eradication Programme launched by the Government of India. Plant is set up with the equipment provided by UNICEF.

4) India works on Disease Control 
Malaria control and demonstration projects started in Orissa, Mysore and United Provinces in collaboration with W.H.O. and the Malaria Institute, Delhi.

5) India Undertakes Massive Campaign on Vaccination Promotion
A mass publicity campaign is undertaken for the promotion of BCG vaccination. The first Governor General of India  backs the campaign and the programme, assisted by UNICEF together with United Nations Information Centre.

6) India Establishes Anti-T.B Centers 
 In 1951, 5 anti-tuberculosis centers are established Bombay, Madras and West Bengal.

7)  Maternal and child health 
Maternal and child health programmes begin in India in the early 1950s and the flow of UNICEF supplies and equipment begins soon after. MCH activities intensify from 1952-54 when the GOI adopted a National Extension Programme for rural areas, later termed as Community Development Programme.

8) Pre-vocational Training for Children
1963 - Pilot project on prevocational training for children who had completed 5 years of primary education launched. The Government decides to experiment and strengthen this programme in 40 training centres.

9) 1963-Water Supply Schemes in India get a boost with UNICEF entry.
Assistance in the form of hardware material, equipment and transport, benefited around 50,000 rural populations in selected states, as a part of the health plan.

10) Science Teaching
Early 1960s-the Government of India and UNICEF sign an agreement for reorganisation and expansion of science teaching in the schools of India. Emphasis is on teaching through demonstration kits rather than through chalk and talk method. NCERT, UNESCO and UNICEF work together.

11) Blind Children
Government’s efforts for training the blind supported by UNICEF, initially in the form of equipment. The aim is to increase the enrollment of blind children in regular schools.

12) Applied Nutrition Programme
A nationwide village–based Applied Nutrition Programme introduced in 1963. India signs a master plan of operation with UNICEF and its sister agencies, WHO and FAO; UNICEF assists ANP with equipment and supplies.

13) EPR-The Super Emergency 1971-72
Government of India and UNICEF swing into action almost simultaneously, to face the unimagined emergency that put the life of millions of innocent children of the fleeing refugee families from East Pakistan at risk.

14) Education in Food & Nutrition 1971
Indian Council of Agricultural Research in cooperation with UNICEF and FAO initiates a programme of “Higher education in Food and Nutrition”. The attempt is to have an indirect but long-term impact on the nutritional status of children and women in rural areas.

15) Health Services 1973
Initiated by the government all over India, the uni-purpose workers of various vertical national programmes are converted into multi-purpose workers, this is a significant step forward in the provision of rural health care in the country.

16) Special Child Relief 1974
 Government of India, with the support of UNICEF starts the SCR programme, following the severe food shortage in several flood and drought affected areas in the northern part of the country.

17) 1975-Integrated Basic Services Approach
Ministry of Social Welfare and UNICEF sign a master plan of operation to improve the physical, social and psychological development of the most vulnerable and needy groups of children and their mothers.

18)  Special Nutrition Programme
A further intermediate step taken by UNICEF in the Special Nutrition Programme introduced by the Government of India. The aim is to extend  coverage to a larger number of beneficiaries.

19) RYTE
The first Ready to Eat (RYTE) food processing unit started at Anand (Gujarat) with UNICEF support. Similar plants initiated in other parts of the country in 1977.

20)  Community Health Workers
CHW, later known as the Community Heath Volunteers (CHV), scheme launched in 1977 by the central government. Health workers to serve as health guides to  rural families. UNICEF supports this with funding, as well as the provision of kits and manuals in local languages.
21) 1978-Community Biogas Plants
In support of the development of ‘energy saver’ technology, UNICEF assists experimental community biogas plants. Another such pilot project initiated in 1978 in Uttar Pradesh.

22) Oral Rehydration Therapy 1978
1978 - The government’s efforts to reduce infant and child mortality due to diarrheal diseases supported by UNICEF for the production of new revolutionary solution-oral Rehydration therapy. 1986 – ORT becomes a fully-fledged national programme.

23) 1978 UNICEF supports the Hyderabad Urban Community Development Programme which became a national and international model for UCD.


24)Rural Water Supply
International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1981-1990).  UNICEF is a partner of the Indian Government in the accelerated rural water supply programme.

25) Against Leprosy
Edutainment comes to India in the form of a play on leprosy related stigma, called “Khat ki Garhi”.

26) Convention on Right of Child 1986
1986 - Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted at historic South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit. Subscribes to the goals of universal coverage of primary education and child immunization.

27) National Missions   1986
1986 - Government of India launches six national missions or mass campaigns of which UNICEF collaborates on the National Mission on Immunization, the National Mission for Drinking Water and the National Literacy Mission.

28) Decade of the Girl Child
The 1990s were declared as the SAARC Decade of the Girl Child.

29) Bihar Education Project 1991
Bihar Education Project launched in 1991 with the express purpose of bringing about quantitative and qualitative improvement in the elementary system in Bihar. UNICEF assists central and state government in the project.

30) National Plan of Action for Children 1992
India’s first National Plan of Action for Children drafted in 1992
(following the World Summit for Children in 1989, establishes a new Plan of Action for Children in 2005.)

31) Rights of the Child
India acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 11 December 1992.

32) Launch of G.O.I’s RCH Programme 1997
The Reproductive and Child Health Programme aimed to universalise  immunization, antenatal care, skilled attendance during delivery as well as for common childhood ailments.

33) Super Cylone of Orissa
1999 'super cyclone' hits the Orissa coast killing about 10,000 people. State Government is supported by various agencies including UNICEF which coordinates relief operations for about 1.7 million children.

34) School Feeding Law
The Supreme Court of India passes a landmark school feeding law in 2001.Under the new legislation all state governments have to introduce a cooked mid-day meal in all primary schools.

35) Dular Project
2001 - The Dular project,  to combat malnutrition, infant mortality and poor maternal health, started in selected districts of Bihar and Jharkhand by the Government with UNICEF support.

36) Iodine Deficiency Disorder
Since the 1990s, the Government of India, UNICEF, other UN agencies and NGOs have been working together for the promotion of Iodised salt as the best way of preventing Iodine Deficiencies Disorders. Today in India, more than 14 million out of the 26 million newborns are protected against brain damage due to iodine deficiency.

37) IMNCI                 
2002 - the government of India decided to experiment with the implementation of integrated management of neonatal and childhood illnesses.

38) Infant Milk Substitute
 The national enactment of the 2003 Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods Amendment Act, that serves to strengthen the existing 1992 law, becomes a major step promoted and welcomed by UNICEF and partners.  This legislation mandates that infants shall receive exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and thereafter optimal complementary feeding, along with continued breastfeeding, up to two years of age or beyond.

39) Children/Young People Affected by HIV/AIDS
- UNICEF supported the first national consultation on children and young people affected by or vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. The objective is to make prevention education available, provide care and support, stop the spread of HIV from mother to child, and make antiretroviral treatment accessible.

40) Parliamentary Forum
- The honourable speaker of the Lok Sabha launches the Parliamentary Forum on Children. UNICEF provides research and data support.



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