March to Parliament on 21 Nove...

29 October 2014
March to Parliament on  21 November 2014 to Save ICDS

A four day Workshop on ‘ICDS Mission’ and Organisational review of AIFAWH were held from 21-24 August 2014 at Gulbarga, Karnataka. Coming from 17 states – Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh(C), Delhi, Guja...

Anganwadi Worker Murdered in S...

30 October 2014
Anganwadi Worker Murdered in Sunia Village

A delegation of the AIFAWH West Bengal unit went to the village where Dipali Giri, an anganwadi worker was stripped, paraded naked, gang raped and hacked to death and her body hung on a tree in Sunia...

Anganwadi workers, ayahs deman...

05 November 2014
Anganwadi workers, ayahs demand better pay

Demanding that the government pay them a monthly salary of Rs.15,000 and Rs.10,000 respectively, Anganwadi workers and ayahs in the district converged here on Monday and took out an impressive rally....

Twenty three thousand anganwad...

27 November 2014
Twenty three thousand anganwadi workers and helpers March to Parliament

Twenty three thousand anganwadi workers and helpers March to Parliament Submits 1.64 crore signatures to Prime Minister In one of the biggest ever mobilisation of women workers in the capital, on 21 N...

25 Years of AIFAWH and the Tas...

04 January 2015
25 Years of AIFAWH and the Tasks Ahead

The ‘All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers’ (AIFAWH) extends warm greetings to all the anganwadi workers and helpers in the country, all its members, activists and cadres and wishes th...

AIFAWH - 25 years of Struggles...

11 January 2015
AIFAWH - 25 years of Struggles and Achievements

The ‘All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers’ (AIFAWH) came into being on 6th January 1991 in its first national conference in Udaipur in Rajasthan. The past twenty five years have been...

Continue the fight to Save Ind...

11 January 2015
Continue the fight to Save India from Hunger and Malnutrition

Call of AIFAWH National Seminar on “Malnutrition in India and the ICDS as ‘Mission’ India , the ‘Republic of Hunger’ as she call it, has gone from bad to worse in hunger, and the fight to Save the Int...

Heroic Struggle of Anganwadi W...

21 February 2015
Heroic Struggle of Anganwadi Workers in Karnataka

‘THE heart of the city comes to a standstill!’, ‘Stranded Vehicles’, ‘Total traffic jam between 12 and 3 pm’, ‘Women Squatting right in the middle of Road in front of Freedom Park’, ‘A Deluge of Peopl...

Women and Children Neglected;...

28 February 2015
Women and Children Neglected; Allocations to ICDS Cut by Half

AIFAWH Calls for Country wide Protest Demonstrations The Union Budget presented by the Finance Minister displays a total lack of concern towards the well being of the women and children of the countr...

AIFAWH Demands Day 2015

11 July 2015
AIFAWH Demands Day 2015

Nearly two lakh anganwadi workers and helpers took to the streets to observe ‘Demands’ Day’ on 10th July 2015 in spite of heavy rains. Protest against the drastic cut in the Central Budget for ICDS an...

Victory of Anganwadi workers a...

29 July 2015
Victory of Anganwadi workers and helpers in Tripura

AIFAWH welcomes the decision of the Left front government of Tripura to extend pension to the anganwadi workers and helpers of the state. AIFAWH congratulates the Tripura anganwadi workers and helpers...

8th Conference of AIFAWH

09 January 2016
8th Conference of AIFAWH

8th conference of Anganwadi workers and helpers began on 7th January 2016 in RTC Kala Bhavan, Hyderabad at sharp 10.00am in the morning. Among the loud slogans of Revolution Long live and Down with Ca...

8th conference of Anganwadi workers and helpers began on 7th January 2016 in RTC Kala Bhavan, Hyderabad at sharp 10.00am in the morning. Among the loud slogans of Revolution Long live and Down with Capitalism veteran leader and president of the Federation Com. Neelima Maitra hoisted the flag of the Union. On this occasion General Secretary CITU Com. Tapan Sen, one of the founder leader Maharani Konar and state CITU secretary also accompanied her.

After hoisting the flag flora tribute was paid to the martyrs and the departed leaders of the union and trade union movement. After he flag hoisting, inauguration session started, which was presided over by Neelima Maitra. Stressing upon the importance of the ICDS programmee, Chairman of Reception committee, Mr. K R Venugopal said “The essence of the ICDS programme thus directly represents all vital constituents of the Right to Life as guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution of India and as expanded by the Supreme Court of India in many of its path-breaking judgments such as those relating to the right to food, work, health, education, shelter and information. These are the rights of children and women as recognised in certain other articles in the Constitution of India and also various International Human Rights Instruments to which India is signatory. So, when the implementation of the ICDS programme fails, human and social development rights of the women and children are violated in the most crucial areas of their lives and given their numbers taken together the human rights of almost all the people of India are violated.”

While inaugurating the conference Com. Tapan Sen called the union members to strengthen struggles not only for their rights and to save ICDS but also against the neo-liberal policies of the NDA government. He said that the task before us is to raise the consciousness of the union members, as well as to mobilize workers, helpers, beneficiaries, other scheme workers and build strong interlinkages with all sections of society.

After the inauguration, organization session started with the presidential address by Neelima Maitra. Exposing the pernicious effects of imperialist design to end welfare schemes in many countries in the world. Stressing the need of ICDS, she continued, there can not be a human society without women and children. If the scheme is privatized, lives of crores of mothers and children will disrupt. 11 member Presidium was elected, Neelima maitra, president of Federation and other members were Baby Rani( Andhra Pradesh),Maharani Konar ( West Bengal),PP Kallyani(Kerala), Shravani Chakrborty (Tripura) Subhash Rani(Punjab), Niroda Kakoti (Assam),Jayalakshmi (Telangana),Urmila (Haryana), Sunita (HP), Shanta Ghante (Karnataka). Credential sub- committee members were Shubha Shamim (Convener), Krishna, Shanta, Sushila N, Vidya Khangar, Zainab JAhan, S.Leelawati, Monisha Chakraborty and Indira Newar. Minutes sub-committee members were Anju Maini ( Convener) Mahavir Dahiya, Indrani Mukharjee, Jaya Barman, Resolution sub-committee member Veena Gupta (Convener) Ratna Dutta, TV Vidya laxmi, Thilagam, Yamuna, Jaya Barman and Veeralakshmi.
Report was presented by AR Sindu,General Secretary of AIFAWH. After placing the report, delegate went for group discussion on the report.  

Second day of the conference with the revolutionary songs sung by delegates from Telangana. Delegate session started with the delegates speaking from different states. Representative from Fraternal organization, AIDWA Ms. Kiran Moghe, who witnessed the first conference of the AIFAWH in Udaipur highlighted the positive transformation in the oraganisation as well as in the workers and helpers. She stressed that we should work together to resist the criminality of the state. 

Com Hannan Mollah, General Secretary of All India Kisan Sabha greeted the delegates and called for militant joint struggle not only to save ICD but to save crores of children of mother India from hunger and malnutrition.

Greeting the conference, Aboni Mukherjee DYFI General Secretary assured of full support to the struggle of AIFAWH. Three resolutions were presented, one was on Save ICDS moved by Sreelaxmi and it was supported by Molina Ghosh. Resolution demanded the government to allocate adequate funds for ensuring universalisation and institutionalisation of ICDS. We also demand to stop privatization and NGOisation of ICDS immediately.

Second resolution on organizing scheme workers was moved by Jaya Barman and supported by Usha Rani. This 8th conference calls upon the anganwadi workers and helpers to Consolidate our task to expand and strengthen the unions of ASHA and MDM workers and to help other scheme workers to be mobilised on their respective demands and to help them in organising themselves

Third resolution was to pass the women reservation bill. It was moved by Veeralaxmi and supported by Indira Newar. All the resolutions were passed unanimously with the clapping and slogans.

AIFAWH welcomes the decision of the Left front government of Tripura to extend pension to the anganwadi workers and helpers of the state. AIFAWH congratulates the Tripura anganwadi workers and helpers union(CITU) for their victory. The union which has a support of 99.1% of the total employees has been continuously on campaign and struggles for improving their working condition.

According to the cabinet decision, Anganwadi workers and helpers with 10 years of service will get Rs.500 and Rs.350 respectively as pension after their retirement at the age of 60 years. They can opt for pension or for Rs.50000 and Rs.30000 respectively as lump some payment. In case of death of those employees who have completed 5 years of service, the legal heirs of the diseased workers and helpers will get Rs.50000 and Rs.30000 respectively.
Tripura government has also decided to extend pension to domestic workers, transgenders and leprosy and AIDS patients

This decision of the Left Front government in Tripura is all the more important considering the critical financial situation of the state and the drastic cut in the central budget allocation to the ICDS.

Many states like Bihar had stopped the supplementary nutrition in anganwadi centres. Many other states like Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Pondicherry, etc, had not been paying the remuneration of the employees for months. Tripura government has once again proved their pro worker attitude.

Tripura is one among the first states to introduce the state's contribution in the remuneration of the anganwadi workers and helpers. The government had increased the remuneration of the workers and helpers in July 2015 to make it Rs.6511 and Rs.3815 respectively.

A R Sindhu
General Secretary
AIFAWH

Nearly two lakh anganwadi workers and helpers took to the streets to observe ‘Demands’ Day’ on 10th July 2015 in spite of heavy rains.

Protest against the drastic cut in the Central Budget for ICDS and large scale privatisation under the BJP rule.

All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) congratulates anganwadi workers and helpers all over the country for the successful observance of the “All India Demands’ Day” on 10th July 2015.

In spite of heavy rains in many states, nearly two lakh anganwadi workers from 18 states – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand , Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tripura, Telengana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal - observed “demand’s day” on 10th July 2015 at the call of AIFAWH.

Anganwadi workers and helpers held rallies, demonstrations, dharnas etc at the project/district headquarters and submitted a charter of demands to the Prime Minister and the Minister for WCD, on their long pending demands. In Haryana and West Bengal state level rallies and demonstrations were held. In West Bengal memorandum was submitted to the Governor. In Haryana, the Chief Minister had called the union for a discussion on 11 July. In Punjab, in all districts, the anganwadi employees collected one rupee coins and submitted to the Chief Minister to “fill his empty coffers”.

AIFAWH has given a call to observe 10 July, as demands day against the ongoing privatisation of the ICDS first in the name of ‘ICDS Mission’ now in the name of public private partnership and the drastic cut in central budget 2015-16 for ICDS and for implementation of the recommendations of the 45th Indian Labour Conference, recognizing the scheme workers (including the anganwadi workers and helpers) as workers, paying them minimum wages and providing pension, and freedom of association.

In contrary to the promise in the BJP Manifesto to “Review the working conditions and enhance the remuneration of Anganwadi worker's”, the Modi government had cut down the budget for ICDS by nearly 60%. Many state governments have already started cutting down the allocation to ICDS.

Moreover, although Smt. Maneka Gandhi had promised that there will not be any privatisation of ICDS, in the name of PPP and social partnership, the BJP government is handing over the anganwadi centres to big corporates like Vedanta. AIFAWH will oppose all such moves tooth and nail. AIFAWH demands that the government must stop any move to privatise the ICDS and immediately implement the recommendations of the 45th ILC on scheme workers.

AIFAWH calls upon the anganwadi workers and helpers to intensify their struggles for decent working conditions and against the privatisation of the scheme.

Issued by
A R Sindhu
General Secretary

AIFAWH Calls for Country wide Protest Demonstrations

The Union Budget presented by the Finance Minister displays a total lack of concern towards the well being of the women and children of the country by the BJP led government. To the utter dismay of the around 10 crore women and children, the beneficiaries of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), the allocation for this flagship programme of government of India has been drastically cut by more than half, from Rs 18108 crore in 2014 – 15 to a paltry Rs 8245.77 crores. This is nothing but an open attack on the poor in the country which is home to more than half of the malnourished in the world.

The BJP, which promised of ‘reviewing the working conditions and enhance the remuneration of anganwadi workers’ before the elections, has completely ignored the more than 27 lakhs anganwadi workers and helpers who have been working for a pittance since the last more than 30 – 35 years in the ICDS. The recommendation of the 45th session of the Indian Labour Conference have been confined to the dustbin, despite the unanimous demands of all the federations of anganwadi employees and the central trade unions for their implementation.

The callous attitude of the BJP government was evident when the Prime Minister and his government bending over backwards to satisfy the demands of the corporates, both national and multinational, was not even ready to hear the representatives of the anganwadi employees despite repeated requests. This budget has once again exposed the fact that ‘acche din’ under the BJP rule, are for the corporates, not for the common people, women and children.

While the prices of all the essential commodities have been continuously increasing there has been no increase in the remuneration of the anganwadi workers and helpers since 2011. The government of India pays only Rs 3000 to the anganwadi workers and Rs 1500 to the helpers per month, despite increasing the working hours. They are denied minimum social security benefits including pension, gratuity etc.

AIFAWH strongly condemns this anti women anti children and anti anganwadi employee budget and calls upon all the anganwadi employees in the country to unitedly oppose this irrespective of their affiliations. It calls upon all its state committees to organise protest demonstrations and burn effigies at the project/district level all over the country on 3rd March 2015. It calls upon the anganwadi employees as well as all other sections of working people to intensify the struggle to ‘Save ICDS’ and for better working conditions.

Issued by
A. R. Sindhu (General Secretary)

‘THE heart of the city comes to a standstill!’, ‘Stranded Vehicles’, ‘Total traffic jam between 12 and 3 pm’, ‘Women Squatting right in the middle of Road in front of Freedom Park’, ‘A Deluge of People’ – these were some of the screaming headlines in the print media in Bangalore on February 13, 2015. Not lagging behind, electronic media joined the chorus by beaming the event right from noon!

WHAT WAS THE EVENT?
It was a massive, unprecedented rally of anganwadi workers and helpers with anger writ large on their faces and who, with a mere two days’ advance notice, had descended on the capital from all the 30 districts across the state to lay siege on this city of big capital and international monopoly. The militant rasta roko by this human sea for more than four hours sent the central part of the city into a spin and even after more than 10 hours normalcy could not be restored.

Such was the collective fury of this massive gathering of women! And the media reports put the number at more than 40,000! Of course, the actual gathering was much more than that.

WHY THIS STRUGGLE?
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is the only scheme that is part of government’s efforts at fighting the problem of malnutrition and as such is complementary to human resources development. A scheme of long standing and working effectively too! However, in 2012, instead of further upgrading it, the government, in line with its dutiful adherence to neo-liberal economic agenda, converted it into a ‘Mission Mode’ model, thus seeking to dilute its effective functional role. This Mode mandates allotment of 10 per cent of the ICDS projects to NGOs and another 10 per cent to panchayat institutions. Further, a mere 15 per cent of the centres would be receiving governmental grants for constructing offices and the rest 85 per cent would have to depend on community financing. It also provides for distribution of grants to private convents from out of the funds allocated for pre-primary education. And all this in the name of ‘restructuring of the scheme’ !

Apart from this Mission Mode, there are already several recommendations aimed at dismantling of the scheme itself.
In Karnataka, the working hours of the anganwadi centres have been increased from four and half to six and half hours. The workers and helpers are asked to perform jobs under various non-governmental schemes like Stree Shakthi (women’s self –help group), ‘Bhagyalakshmi’ and also some non-departmental jobs like economic census, population census, elections etc. But the honorarium being paid to them is far less than even minimum wages. As a result, the ICDS is affected and for this, workers are increasingly being blamed.

There are 61,000 anganwadi centres in the atate. Of these, only 57 per cent have their own premises. The rest function either from rented accommodation or in temples, community centres, and youth association offices and from anganwadi workers’ homes even.

While shifting the centres from rented accommodations, these workers are required to shift the food supplies too. On several such occasions they have been falsely accused of trying to steal these supplies and have had to face public wrath leading to false complaints, resulting in immediate filing of FIRs and subsequent suspensions without a formal enquiry. There are no service conditions providing for their reinstatement in service.

At the time of recruitment, the district collector and the chief executive officers of the zilla panchayat function as president and vice-president and as such they themselves constitute the disciplinary authority also. Due to several practical problems, anganwadi workers and helpers quite often find it difficult to work according to the mindset of such IAS officers. There are instances of inhuman acts of on-the-spot-removal from the job in case the officers during their visit find silliest of lapses on the part of the workers and helpers.

Whenever a deputy director, or a child development project officer or a supervisor is transferred, workers have to present them with gifts in the form of gold. For transfers also such gifts are a must.

While performing departmental jobs, workers face assaults from the public. For instance in KR Pete taluk of Mandya district, a worker had to suffer the ignominy of her saree being pulled by a drunkard in front of children in the centre. In the same taluk, in another instance an anganwadi worker had complained to the CDPO that a child marriage is being planned. That gentleman went to the spot and divulged the name of the worker which resulted in the village panchayat imposing a fine of Rs One lakh on the poor worker!

Naturally the workers and helpers reeling under such inhuman conditions at the workplace found themselves driven to the wall and they decided to move collectively once again.

THE DECISION FOR STRUGGLE
For three months, Karnataka Rajya Anganwadi Noukarara Sangha prepared an extensive ground work with a three days’ state level study camp; a round table meet with progressives and intellectuals in Bangalore; held zone-wise conventions and seminars at Mysore, Bangalore, Gulbarga, Hubli and Mangalore and thus widely campaigned against the dangers of privatisation of ICDS and on the issues of the employees. In the seminars, eminent personalities like Chandrakala, central committee member of Kannada Sahithya Parishat; Chandru Poojary, economist; Aravind Malgathi of Mysore University; Manjula Manasa, chairperson of Women’s Commission; Vinaya Okkunda and Dr Rajendra Udupa, progressive writers besides senior leaders of CITU, JMS, DYFI, SFI, KPRS (AIKS) participated. Vehicle jathas were simultaneously taken out in 88 taluks and public meetings were organised in 2500 gram panchayats. Auto campaign and street corner meetings were organised in 108 towns. It is to be noted that the speakers in all such meetings were anganwadi workers. More than eight lakh pamphlets were brought out for beneficiaries, anganwadi workers and for both commonly, and were widely distributed. More than 45,000 posters were put up throughout the state. And through all this it was ensured that Stree Shakthi women, ICDS beneficiaries and general public extended their support to our cause.

In the midst of our preparations, the AITUC union came forward to join the struggle. The indefinite strike commenced on February 2, 2015 with day and night mass squatting in front of 27 DC offices and also at Freedom Park in Bangalore where the participation was by three districts in Bangalore and concluded on February 12, 2015 with a massive Bangalore Chalo programme.

ATTEMPTS TO SUPPRESSAND BREAK THE STRUGGLE
Usually such long drawn struggles dwindle after the first two days, but in this struggle, the participation only multiplied with each passing day. Of the total 61,000 centres, more than 55,000 were closed. Alarmed over this great show of strength and resoluteness, the government tried to create ill will against the striking workers by blaming them of putting the health of women and children at the risk. It egged on the district collectors to take stringent measures against the workers. The Uttar Kannada DC promulgated Section 144 and served show-cause notices to all the workers. Bidar DC had planned to declare the strike as illegal, have a police lathi-charge on strikers and then to arrest all. Hassan DC did not allow erection of tent and the determined workers squatted under the trees, day and night for 11 days. The Chamrajnagar DC went a step ahead and denied water, electricity and even toilet facilities to the striking workers.

On February 6, 2015, the officials of Women and Child Development department convened a meeting of all deputy directors and directed them to make alternate arrangements to run the 55,000 anganwadi centres.

The minister of the department, Uma Shree through advertisements in the media, instructed all to report for duty immediately. On February 9th and 10th, all DCs and deputy directors convened meetings of midday meal, ASHA and Stree Shakthi workers and urged them to run the centres. It is indeed heartening to note that their agenda failed miserably. In places where coercion was used, the workers, especially Stree Shakthi workers protested vehemently, walked out of meetings and joined the striking workers!

Despite being headed by Siddaramaiah as CM who prides himself as a staunch friend of the down-trodden, the Congress government in the state used all its power and machinery to suppress the struggle.

TALKS WITH THE GOVERNMENT
On the basis of 29 demands placed before the government, joint talks had been held on January 31, with the officials of the department. On the very first day of the strike itself, the minister of the department had visited the venue of struggle. As there was no clarity on the part of the government in their response to the demands, the talks did not yield any results. In the background of the massive show of strength and the collective anger of the striking workers, the chief minister had to intervene and in a meeting that lasted for 45 minutes, assured that the central government would be informed that the state cannot allot 10 per cent of anganwadi centres to NGOs as mandated under Mission Mode and further that the demand for increase in honorarium would be considered in the budget session and efforts would be made to address other issues.

Thereafter the minister of the department arrived at the venue of the struggle and after conveying the decisions of the government, requested the workers to end the strike. It was only after this that it was decided to conclude the struggle.

More than 1,00,000 workers and helpers from across the state took part in this struggle. It was supported by G V Srirama Reddy of CPI (M), V J K Nair and S Prasanna Kumar of CITU, leaders of KPRS (AIKS), DYFI, SFI, JMS and AIAWU. Countless cadres of the Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union and the SFI worked as volunteers all the 11 days. The struggle was led by S Varalakshmi, president, H S Sunanda, general secretary and T Leelavathy, Shantha Ghante, Yamuna Gaonkar, Kamala and other office bearers of the union.

S Varalakshmi / M R Shenoy

Call of AIFAWH National Seminar on “Malnutrition in India and the ICDS as ‘Mission’

India , the ‘Republic of Hunger’ as she call it, has gone from bad to worse in hunger, and the fight to Save the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, which provides supplementary nutrition to nearly 10 crore beneficiaries is very important for the country’s future, said Prof. Utsa Patnaik. In a very simple language, she explained the plight of the people under the neoliberal policies to the audience who were mainly the anganawadi union leaders from different states. She said that their work in the anganwadis and their fight in the union is important for the future of the country.

She was giving the inaugural speech at the national Seminar on “Malnutrition in India and the ICDS as ‘Mission’” at BTR Bhawan, New Delhi. The seminar was organized on 6th January 2015 on the occasion of the Silver jubilee of All India Federation of Anganwadi workers and Helpers (AIFAWH).

The malnutrition in a country can be assessed by its demand for food grains, which includes both direct and indirect consumption. As per the United nations Food And Agricultural Organisation, in 2011, it is 1000 kg per year per person for USA, 500kg for Europe, 350kg for China, 225-300kg (average) for developing countries, 225kg (average) for Africa and 212kg(average) for the least developed countries. It is shocking that for India it is only 174kg per year per person.

This is not because we are not producing enough foodgrains. In 2013 and 2014 India exported 42 MT of foodgrains. This is the largest ever exports of food grains after independence and almost double that of the export done by the NDA government in 2003-2004 of 22 MT (which is mentioned in the book ‘The Republic of Hunger”). But all these statistics and issues never appear in the mainstream media.

The lack of purchasing power due to unemployment is the main fact behind the lack of demand. Most of the poor is out of the reach of the Public Distribution System after the government started targeting in PDS since 1997. She also ridiculed the official poverty line of Rs.27/- for rural and Rs.33/- for urban per person per day.
This scheme was started to improve the nutritional status of the next generation. Now after 40 years, the neoliberal policies had made things much challenging. The ICDS scheme which now serves nearly 10 crore beneficiaries, the budgetary allocation is so little, the infrastructure of the anganwadis are so poor and the condition of the workers is deplorable.

She said that it is very important to save the ICDS and called upon the activists to continue their struggles to save this scheme and to get their rights.

K Hemalata, Secretary CITU and Vice President AIFAWH, chaired the Seminar. She pointed out that it is the efforts of AIFAWH that such a militant federation to exist and grew for the last twenty five years. It goes to the credit of the trade union organisations under its leadership that the scheme itself sustained for such a long period of forty years. She said that AIFAWH always related its struggle to improve the working condition to the struggle for the rights of the people.

Dr. Reetika Khera, development economist and Professor, IIT Delhi, on her presentation, shared her experiences of the anganwadis at the grass root level during her studies. She shared the positive experiences of the anganwadi worker’s initiatives to improve the situation in anganwadis. She pointed out some issues like caste problems, corruption and non implementation of services to be taken up by the unions. She gave some suggestions to co ordinate with the media to highlight issues like privatisation to bring in more people to fight against that.

Dr.Vandana Prasad, noted child rights activist and convener of Jan Swasthay Abhiyan reiterated the importance of the unions in the fight not only to get the rights of the workers but to save such an important scheme and to improve it. She said that it is very important to keep in mind the role of the anganwadi workers and helpers as the activists for the right of the people than that of the implementers of the government scheme. It is the pressure by the people and the organisations such as AIFAWH and JSA along with others which resulted in the Right to Food Act, inclusion of ICDS in that and whatever little improvement in the infrastructure and nutrition component in it. Now we have to fight the intrusion of the multinationals through biscuits and packed food by the multinationals like Pepsi, Haldiram etc, she said. She said that it is very important to take people along with in the fight to improve the ICDS.

Savitri Roy, Co ordinator of Forum for Crèche and Childcare Service (FORCES) explained about their activities including an action research on ICDS and its findings. In a ‘model centre’ in Rajasthan there was no helper for the last six years! She said that it is very important to work together.

A R Sindhu, General Secretary AIFAWH said that the intention to have the seminar is to bring in different sections, academics, intellectuals and different organisations working in this area in the struggle to Save ICDS. The question is whether this is the right of the children and the people to have nutritious food, health and education or shall we leave it to the mercy of the corporate and corporate NGOs as their ‘charity’. She explained how the government through the ‘Mission mode’ is handing over the ICDS resources to the corporate, in different states. The Central Minster in the Modi government is asking the Pepsico chairperson to take over the food distribution in the schemes.

While the working condition of the workers and helpers are so bad that event the ‘honorarium’ is not paid for months together. In many places there is no supply of nutrition for months. Workers are given as many as 25-30 types of extra works that they do not have the time to do their own work. Moreover, they are asked to manipulate the records not to show the extent of malnutrition. She also explained the experiences of the AIFAWH of joint struggles at the ground level to improve the situation. She said that in this silver jubilee year AIFAWH will forge militant struggles to Save the ICDS and for the rights of the workers and helpers.

After a brief question answer session, the Seminar ended with a resolve to fight together to Save and improve the ICDS.

The ‘All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers’ (AIFAWH) came into being on 6th January 1991 in its first national conference in Udaipur in Rajasthan.

The past twenty five years have been years of struggle and sacrifices for the AIFAWH and all its affiliates in different states, which played a pioneering role in mobilising lakhs of anganwadi employees in both united and independent struggles to improve the conditions of anganwadi employees and prevent ICDS from being handed over to private interests.

In that process, AIFAWH have grown as one of the most militant trade union organisations in the country, having more than five lakh members in twenty six states. Our reach was proved to be nearly double that with nine lakh anganwadi employees participating in the strike call given by AIFAWH. With initiatives of policy interventions for strengthening the ICDS we could earn the reputation as a responsible trade union.

AIFAWH is entering its Silver jubilee year on 6 January 2015. AIFAWH working Committee decided to organise year long programmes throughout the country starting from that day.

A meeting was organised to launch the silver jubilee celebrations at BTR Bhawan New Delhi on the occasion. AIFAWH working committee members and state leaders from nearby states attended the meeting. It was decided to hoist the AIFAWH flag throughout the country in every sector.

AIFAWH flag was hoisted by Neelima Maitra, President of AIFAWH, followed by a song on the red flag by the AIFAWH activists from Himachal Pradesh.

Tapan Sen, General Secretary CITU inaugurating the function said that CITU is feeling proud of its federation which had raised its activists to the class consciousness of taking up the issues of the people and the society along with own demands. While launching the most militant struggles and achieving many benefits, AIFAWH ahd also undertaken the task of organising other sections such as ASHAs, Mid Day Meal Workers etc, he said. The scheme worker’s movement is the initiative of AIFAWH, he said. We have to continue the joint campaign along with other class and mass organisations to Save ICDS, he said.

The meeting was chaired by Neelima Maitra, founder General Secretary who described the early years and formation of AIFAWH. She recalled the initiative of Nirupama Chatterjee, who was the Minister for Social Welfare in the first Left Front Government in West Bengal who along with her approached, Vimal Ranadive and BTR in organising the anganwadi workers and helpers. She also recalled having the first convention in 1989 in Delhi and the first conference 24 years ago in Udaipur.

K Hemalata,Vice President CITU and the General Secretary from 1998- 2012 narrated AIFAWHs experience through the years. How AIFAWH has developed cadres and intensified the struggles with a correct perspective she explained. Narrating the experience of organising other sections, taking up joint struggles she said that the potential of these section of the workers must be duly utilized by the democratic movement she emphasized.

Hannan Mollah, General Secretary AIKS while congratulating AIFAWH emphsised the need of exposing the hypocrisy of the government and the Indian Society giving women ‘adoration’ in place the salary for her work.He assured to take forward the joint struggles to save ICDS.Suneet Chopra, Joint Secretary AIAWU said that the role of anganwadi workers and helpers in fighting the other forms of oppression such as caste oppression. He assured that the agricultural workers will stand by the AIFAWH at all levels in their fight.Jagmati Sangwan, General Secretary AIDWA said that like most of the women in the villages she always felt at home in the anganwadi centres which give a feeling of their rights fulfilled. She said that it is very important for the AIFAWH to take up the struggles against women’s oppression along with AIDWA. Vikram Singh, Joint Secretary SFI said that the students get inspiration from the militancy of the struggles by AIFAWH. By bringing out to the streets so many women making them aware of their rights, AIFAWH made advancement in the fight against the patriarchy.

A photo album on the 25 years of AIFAWH was released by, A K Padmanabhan, President CITU by handing over to AIFAWH’s founder Treasurer Nina Rao. He reminded the sacrifices of hundreds of activists in taking AIFAWH to this height. He congratulated AIFAWH on its achievements and mentioned some of the struggles such as the Mahapadav, which was for the first time a mobilisation of such large number of women workers by a single organisation in Delhi.
A R Sindhu, General Secretary AIFAWH said the silver jubilee is an occasion to assess the achievements and shortcomings and take the struggles forward. As per the call of the 7th conference of AIFAWH to consolidate the organisation, and the call of 14th conference of CITU to ‘reach the unreached’ AIFAWH had decided to develop up to 25 new cadres in each district where the organisation exists. It will be minimum 2500 new cadres all over the country. AIFAWH had also decided to bring out 25 kinds of leaflets on different issues to reach the unreached anganwadi workers and helpers.

With the increased attacks and challenges on the occasion of the silver jubilee AIFAWH is gearing up for more vigorous struggles both independent and joint, for the rights of the workers, for the rights of the people against all kinds of injustice.

The ‘All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers’ (AIFAWH) extends warm greetings to all the anganwadi workers and helpers in the country, all its members, activists and cadres and wishes them a Happy New Year 2015!

AIFAWH feels proud and happy to launch its Silver Jubilee in this New Year, on 6th January 2015. It was on this day in 1991 that it AIFAWH came into being at the conclusion of its first national conference in Udaipur in Rajasthan.

On this occasion AIFAWH firmly reiterates its commitment and determination to continue to fight for the right to nutritious food, health and education to all the children and women in the country; to continue to fight for a strong and effective ‘Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)’ and its institutionalisation as a permanent department in the government. It resolves and rededicates itself to the struggle for decent and dignified life for the ‘unsung heroines’, the anganwadi workers and helpers – for their recognition as employees, for decent wages and working conditions, pension and other social security benefits.

The past twenty five years have been years of struggle and sacrifices for the AIFAWH and all its affiliates in different states, which played a pioneering role in mobilising lakhs of anganwadi employees in both united and independent struggles to improve the conditions of anganwadi employees and prevent ICDS from being handed over to private interests.

On the occasion of its Silver Jubilee, AIFAWH salutes all its activists, cadres and all the anganwadi employees in the country who have contributed to these struggles braving victimisation, police repression and political harassment. It is their iron will, grit and courage in continuing the fight for their rights, despite the innumerable difficulties of a patriarchal society that has contributed to the advances that have been made - Unlike so many of earlier schemes for child development, ICDS has been in operation for almost 40 years and has been expanded. There has been some improvement in the conditions of the anganwadi employees over the years – the increase in the remuneration from Rs 225 and Rs 110 for workers and helpers to over Rs 4000 and Rs 2000 in most of the states; paid maternity leave for six months, avenues for promotion, monthly pension in a few states and regularisation in one. The Recommendations of the 45th ILC is one landmark achievement in the history of our movement.

In that process, we have grown as one of the most militant trade union organisations in the country, having more than five lakh members in twenty six states. Our reach was proved to be nearly double that with nine lakh anganwadi employees participating in the strike call given by AIFAWH. With initiatives of policy interventions for strengthening the ICDS we could earn the reputation as a responsible trade union.

However, the struggle is not yet over. The situation today demands it to be continued with much more vigour; with much more fervour and with much more unity. The government policies threaten to undo whatever the anganwadi employees have achieved; they seek to rob the little welfare benefits that are today available to the poor women and children of our country through the ICDS. The present BJP led government is on the same track as the erstwhile Congress led UPA government in privatising ICDS through the ‘Mission Mode’; in not only denying adequate financial resources but also in further curtailing them; in dismantling it in practice while claiming to strengthen it on paper.

Yet another danger looms large before us – the attempts to disrupt our unity. One after another, Ministers, MPs and leaders of the BJP, have been issuing statements that stoke communal passions and are intended to divide the people on religious lines. They have been declaring their unstinted loyalty to the RSS which is intent on converting our secular democratic country into a rabid ‘Hindu Rashtra’. This means weakening of our united struggles and snatching away whatever little we have achieved through our hard struggles over all these years.

Thus, the task before us is to protect our unity as the apple of our eyes and to further intensify our struggles –

• to safeguard what we have achieved
• to achieve the status of employees
• for minimum wages and other benefits
• for pension and other social security benefits

We shall not allow any force in earth to disrupt our unity and weaken our struggles.

The task before us is to Save ICDS against any attempts to dismantle it - be it in the name of ‘ICDS Mission’ or any other.

We shall not allow the right to nutritious food and pre school education of the children of our country to be given away to the charity of private interests, to the Corporates or NGOs.

The task before us is to create awareness among the beneficiaries, the poor peasants, agricultural workers, women and unorganised workers, about the government’s attempts to dismantle ICDS, and rally their support to the struggle to save it.

We shall strengthen our bonds with the beneficiaries and their organisations and together strengthen the struggle to save ICDS.

On the occasion of its Silver Jubilee, AIFAWH rededicates itself to all these tasks.

It calls upon all its members, activists and cadres to strengthen the organisation, build stronger bonds with the beneficiaries, and intensify the struggle to achieve their most genuine and long overdue demands. It calls upon all the anganwadi employees in the country, the beneficiaries of ICDS, the people and all democratic sections of society to support its endeavours.

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