Lakhs of anganwadi workers and Helpers Protest all over the country at District headquarters
In spite of heavy rains in many parts of the country, lakhs of anganwadi workers and helpers demonstrated in front of central government offices and district headquarters to observe All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) All India Demands Day, today, 10 July 2019. AIFAWH congratulates anganwadi workers and helpers all over the country for the massive protest observed this year with the slogan “No more Muzaffarpur, For Malnutrition Free India, strengthen ICDS, Fulfil the promise of freedom” in the background of the deaths of more than 150 children in Muzaffarpur.
Lakhs of anganwadi workers from 22 states – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Pondicherry, Rajasthan, Telengana, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal observed “All India Demands’ Day” at the call of AIFAWH. Being the first national level protest action after the new Government came to power, that too in the background of such a tragedy and also in a situation where the supplementary nutrition and salaries were not paid for months together in many states including Bihar, the response to the call was very encouraging.
In spite of heavy rains in many parts of the country, anganwadi workers and helpers gathered in large numbers. They are also agitated because the BJP and RSS during the election and after the government was formed has been continuously campaigning that the wages of anganwadi workers and helpers are increased to Rs.18000 per month by the Modi government. Such messages are sent to the workers using social media in a large way. But the budget placed with much fanfare by the woman finance minister of the Modi-2 ministry even in the aftermath of Muzaffarpur did not increase a single rupee for allocation of ICDS. In addition, various states are yet to pay the increase in wages announced in September 2018 to the workers. Many state governments are opening pre-schools in schools, thus taking away children from anganwadis. Direct Benefit Transfer and centralized kitchens are also being attempted in some states.
Throughout the country, the workers paid homage to the children who lost their lives in Muzaffarpur before the public meeting. In Muzaffarpur, a meeting was held in which hundreds of anganwadi workers and helpers participated. In the recently held conference of Bihar State Anganwadi Sevika Sahayika Sangh it is decided to organise a yearlong campaign and action in Muzaffarpur against malnutrition and to strengthen ICDS titled “Freedom from malnutrition and ill health, no more deaths of children” from 14 August 2019.
The Demands of 10 July
- Make ICDS permanent; Increase the budgetary allocation for ICDS
- Pay minimum wages and social security and pension to the anganwadi workers and helpers as recommended by 45thILC.
- NO privatization of ICDS in any form; No involvement of corporate companies or NGOs in ICDS
- Strengthen ICDS; convert anganwadis into anganwadi-cum-crèches; increase allocation for nutrition; strengthen and retain the pre -school education in ICDS.
AIFAWH working committee will meet on 25-26 July 2019 at Delhi to plan future activities to strengthen ICDS and to achieve demands of regularization, minimum wages and pension.
(A R Sindhu)