Today was a day of  pure nostalgia for me.

I went to listen to Dr.  M.S. Swaminathanspeaking on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Please do look up Dr. Swaminathan here.

For more details of on SDGs follow the link below.

I also planned to sign up as a member of the National Coalition for Nutrition and Food


After many years,  I visited the Voluntary Health Association of India. (VHAI)

VHAI is the organization where I spent the ten best years of my professional life

Not one but ten pioneering nutrition efforts of VHAI came to my mind. All these happened in late 70s and early 80’s. Much else must have happened on nutrition in VHAI after that which I am not aware of.

1. The Narangwal Study

VHAI published the pioneering Narangwal Study of the John Hopkins University.Between April 1968 and May 1973 the department of International Health of The Johns Hopkins University carried out investigations into the interactions of malnutrition and infection and their effects on preschool child growth, morbidity and mortality in 10 villages of Punjab, North India.This project led to more effective rural projects throughout India, such as Jamkhed. – See more at:

2. Feeding and Care of Infants and Young Children

VHAI published this outstanding work by Dr. Shanti Ghosh, an outstanding pediatrician known for the depth of her knowledge and her utmost simplicity.This book aimed at nurses and auxiliaries became a landmark publication on infant nutrition and ran into many editions.ghosh_0373

3. Better Child Care

Consisting of 50 paragraphs and 50 visuals this book was for “the sister by the hurricane lamp”, for the ultimate field worker. Better Child Care was published in 17 languages. A very popular booklet with the Government,  UNICEF and community health projects everywhere, this was also bought in bulk by the Indian Armed Forces, the Indian Railways the United Plantations  Association of South India (UPASI) for their outreach programs.

4. Family Health Handbook

The Government of India celebrated the 15th year of ICDS by handing over to every Anganwadi worker in India in her own language  an adapted version of Better Child Care  as Family Health Handbook.

road to health charts

5. Road to Health Charts

In the 70s and 80’s VHAI has sold more growth charts than anyone else anywhere. These cards first used Dr David Morely in Ghana was quickly adapted and mass printed at low cost.

6. Arm Circumference Tapes and Bangles

These simple tools were introduced by VHAI for early and community-based detection of malnutrition.

7. Anemia Recognition Cards

This was another innovative tool. All what you had to do was stretch your tongue and compare it with the two tongues in the card.

8. National Alliance for Nutrition of Infants

VHAI cofounded the National Alliance for Nutrition of Infants (NANI) with ACASH  leading the fight from Western India and Dr. Jayem, a neo-natologist leading the campaign from the South.  We resisted the industry code  and WHO-UNICEF CODE on the marketing of breast milk substitutes. The campaign resulted in Amul withdrawing from manufacturing breast milk substitutes and joining the campaign promotion of mother’s milk.

9. Baby Friendly Hospitals.

Many of the VHAI affiliated hospitals became the first one to be certified as baby-friendly hospitalsin several parts of the country

10. 16,000 from Young Parents

At a time when computer processing was at its infancy, VHAI answered 16,000 questions on infant nutrition paused by young parents in response to a series of UNICEF advertisements.

With some immodesty, I might add India became a global campaigner on infant nutrition. The then Head of the Publications was nominated  as  a Board Member of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN)  and was named the “poet laureate ” of the organization.