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All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) has decided to March to parliament on 25 February 2019.
Within two months there will be Parliament elections. Even the last budget of the present BJP led NDA government is placed will be passed. There will not be any more Parliament sessions while this government is in power. The country will be in the election mode. Then why there is yet another march to Parliament now?
This is the culmination of the consistent struggles by AIFAWH in the last five years against the BJP government’s policies and measurers which not only neglected our just demands but also was dismantling the ICDS Scheme itself. It is the continuation of our struggles during the last 28 years for the right of the workers and the rights of the children for nutrition, health and education. We are coming to Delhi to submit the charge sheet against the BJP government which came to power promising the increase in remuneration of anganwadi workers and helpers and strengthen ICDS but cheated us.
People even ask Is it not a politically motive struggle? Hasn’t Modiji increased the remuneration of workers, mini workers and helpers in September 2018 and is it not a fact that again in this budget the Finance minister has announced further 50% increase?
First of all, there is no further increase in remuneration of anganwadi workers and helpers in the interim budget placed by interim finance minister Piyush Goyal on 1 February 2019. What he mentioned was the announcement for increase of Rs.1500 for workers, 1250 for mini workers and Rs.750 for helpers, made by the Prime Minister on 11 September 2018, under the pressure of the Mazdoor Kisan Rally by CITU, AIKS and AIAWU.
But, here also the Modi government had cheated the anganwadi workers and helpers. The additional budgetary allocation necessary for the increase is Rs.4259 crores per year, as per government press release in September. But the additional budget allocation for ‘Anganwadi Services’ in the budget 2019-20 is only Rs.1944.18crores (Rs.19,834.37 cr this year and Rs.17,870.19cr last year). This is not even half of what is required to implement the increase.
This is the reason why in most states in the country, the increased remuneration which the Prime Minister promised as ‘diwali gift’ has not yet being paid. In many states, the remuneration is not at all being paid since October 2018.
The government has not only cheated the workers and helpers but also the beneficiaries. The Government of India declared in September 2017 that it is going to increase the allocation for supplementary nutrition and is going to spent additional Rs.12,000cr for three years, i.e., additional Rs.4000cr per year for nutrition. But neither the budget last year nor this year includes this allocation. In many states the nutrition is not being supplied since many months.
But then what is the figure Rs.27,584.37cr for ICDS which the Finance Minister mentioned in the budget speech?
It is yet another effort to misguide the employees as well as the public. In 2016-17, the government of India had put various schemes – Scheme for adolescent girls, Child protection scheme, national crèche scheme, Maternity benefit scheme and Poshan Abhiyan(later) under “Umbrella ICDS” and changed the name of the then ICDS to ‘Anganwadi Services’. This Rs.27,584.37cr is the allocation for all six schemes. The allocation for anganwadi Services is only Rs. 19,834.37cr.
What about the “Poshan Mission”? Isn’t it useful for reducing malnutrition?
In the Poshan Mission, the annual budget of Rs.3400cr is totally for the administrative expenses for monitoring and convergence. Not a single paisa for the beneficiaries. At the same time, for the Prime Minsiter Matru Vandana Yojana, the budget allocation of Rs.2400 cr last year has been cut down to Rs.1200cr.
Why targeting only Modi and BJP?
Modi Government is the first government which had drastically cut down the allocation for ICDS to less than half in its first budget. It had closed down the Planning commission and proposed to close down the centrally sponsored schemes. It is now spending only 60% of the expenses of the scheme the rest is spent by the states. i.e, Of the Rs.4500 remuneration, Central government is paying only Rs.2700. It has been trying to privatise the ICDS. It has made an agreement with corporate Vedanta where half of the time in anganwadis will be spent on skill development of women in the area.
Now, the ministry is going ahead with the Direct Cash transfer in place of nutrition for the beneficiaries as per the direction of NITI Ayog. Pilot project has been proposed in UP and Rajasthan. This if implemented will dismantle the ICDS.
Many state governments have increased the remuneration and in many states anganwadi workers are getting more than Rs,10000 a month. Then, why is this struggle at national level?
It is because of the militant and consistent struggles of our anganwadi unions led by AIFAWH and CITU, we could get increase in remuneration and some other benefits in many states. But the government has to take a stand on the basic question of the recognition of anganwadi workers and helpers as government employees. There is no provision for pension or gratuity for us. The governments have to accept the recommendations of the 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference on recognition, minimum wages and pension for scheme workers. There is no uniformity on the service conditions of the anganwadi employees throughout the country.
Apart from the demands of regularization, minimum wages and pension, so many other demands regarding ban on non ICDS extra work, full payment of mini workers and upgrading the mini centres to full centres, removal of age bar in promotion, issues of closure and merger of centres, including pre school education in right to education and making anganwadis as nodal agencies, making anganwadis full time anganwadi- cum crèches etc are pending since long.
As we know, the struggles of anganwadi workers and helpers in the past had pressurized all political parties to promise an increase in remuneration to anganwadi workers. We have to build the pressure this time to force all the political parties to take a stand on the recommendations of 45th ILC. We have to put the issue of the rights of the anganwadi workers and helpers and the rights of the children of our country for nutrition, health and education in the national agenda of our country.
We are bringing to Delhi nearly one crore signatures from all over the country demanding better infrastructure and services in anganwadis and implementation of 45th ILC recommendations and to stop the move for direct cash transfer in ICDS. We will submit it to the ministry.
Come in large numbers to Delhi on 25th February 2019!
Come in red uniform of our Federation!
Let us storm Delhi and make the ruling class hear our voice!
Let us put the issues of the toiling people in the election agenda in 2019
Let us work for not only the change of the government but the change in pro corporate policies!
NO TO DIRECT CASH TRANSFER AND NO PRIVATISATION IN ICDS!
IMPLEMENT MINIMUM WAGES RS.18,000 PER MONTH AND PESNION RS.6000 PER MONTH FOR ANGANWADI WORKERS AND HELPERS! REGULARISE THEM AS GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES!
MAKE ANGANWADIS FULL TIME AS ANGANWADI CUM CRECHES!