Fight For Freedom from Hunger, Malnutrition, Ill Health and Illiteracy, Hatred and Discrimination!

With a resolve to strengthen the ongoing struggles for strengthening the ICDS for Freedom from hunger, malnutrition, ill health and illiteracy and to take up a campaign to free the nation from hatred and discrimination, the ninth conference of AIFAWH was concluded in the historic city of Rajamahendravaram, (Rajahmundry), Andhra Pradesh on 20 November 2019.

The four day conference held at Vimal Ranadive Nagar, P Padmini Hall, Maya Ojha Manch (River Bay) began with Usharani, President, hoisting the flag on 17th November 2019. The Chairman of the reception committee Illa Venkateswara Rao, MLC welcomed the delegates.

Tapan Sen, General Secretary CITU, inaugurated the conference. He gave the policy frame work in which the ICDS is also under attack. He congratulated the AIFAWH and its state unions for the militant struggles and achievements during this period. He said that while the working class comes under the red flag to fight back against the attack of its rights, they get divided on various counts in their social life. He called upon the anganwadi employees to take up the responsibility of removing this dichotomy by exposing the policies and increasing the level of consciousness of the exploited class.

A resolution in support of the General Strike called by the central trade unions was placed by AR Sindhu in the inaugural session.

A presidium was elected with Usharani President, (convenor), Babyrani (AP), Varalakshmi (Karnataka), Mary Jobe (Kerala), Pavitra (Maharashtra, Helper), Kajal Rani Sarkar (Tripura), Manisha Chakraborty (WB), S K Lakshmi Beebi (AP, Helper). The Minutes Committee consisted of comrades Jaya Barman (Convenor), Mahavir Dahiya, Gajendra Jha, Sarala and Jagatram. A Credentials Committee was formed with Anju Maini (Convenor), Vijayalakshmi, Mita Ghosh, Ekalakshmi, Meena Mech and Afsana Begum. The Resolutions Committee consisted of Veena Gupta (Convenor), Jayalakshmi, Indira Newar, Rajkumari, Ratna Dutta, K K Prasannakumari, Sunanda and Shubha Shamim.

The condolence resolution was moved by Veena Gupta, Secretary, AIFAWH.

Usharani gave the presidential address.

A R Sindhu, General Secretary, placed the Report of the General Secretary. The report was placed in three parts – i) policies and movements, ii) organisation and iii) task of organising other working people and taking up a campaign against hate and discrimination. The report said that during the period of three and half years from the 8th conference, all the state unions conducted militant struggles independently and jointly and could achieve increase in wages from ranging from Rs.500 per month to Rs.5000 per month. AIFAWH could initiate and develop their own struggles against the policies and could also advance the struggles of scheme workers which need to be consolidated. During the period, although the membership has shown an increase of 15.27%, it is too little compared to the influence of the unions and the possibilities, the report pointed out.

Anju Maini, Treasurer, placed the Report of the Treasurer and accounts for the years 2016-17 to 2018-19.

Two rallies with more than ten thousand anganwadi workers and helpers in red sarees were held at 2pm. Cultural performances by various teams made it very attractive. Another procession with all the delegates behind their state banners, shouting slogans in different languages attracted the attention of the passers in the small city of Rajamahendravaram. The public meeting was inaugurated by K Hemalata, President CITU. It was addressed by A R Sindhu, M A Gaffoor and Narasinga Rao, General Secretary and President AP CITU.

71 delegates took part in the discussions which were held in three sessions. Delegate from Kashmir, Latifa, narrated the problems they are facing at present and their fight against privatization of ICDS. She was greeted with slogans of “Kashmir continue your fight for unity and democratic rights, the whole India is with you” by the delegates. Delegates self critically assessed the weaknesses of the organisation and put forward many suggestions for further struggles. All state delegations took quotas for increasing membership to reach a target of 6.7 lakhs by 2020.

In the section “Against Hate and Discrimination; Reaching out to Various Sections” the possibilities of interventions were discussed in detail. It is decided to intervene to inculcate progressive values, rationality, respect for diverse cultures and practices etc among the children. It is also decided to challenge the existing retrograde discriminatory practices against women through cultural interventions.

The conference was greeted by the leaders of fraternal organisations. Kesava Rao, senior leader and Working committee Member of All India Kisan Sabha greeted the delegates and called for militant joint struggles. He said that the struggles of anganwadi workers and helpers are an inspiration for the peasantry, in struggle. He emphasized the role the anganwadi workers and helpers can play in educating and organising the rural poor. AIDWA joint secretary Tapsi Praharaj greeted the conference. She highlighted the areas of common interest and scope of joint struggles. Avoy Mukherjee, DYFI General Secretary assured full support to the struggle of AIFAWH and reminded of the importance to fight against the communal danger. Venkateswarulu, Joint secretary AIAWU, while greeting the conference called upon for militant joint struggle of the rural workers.

Jaibhgawan, General Secretary, MDMWFI called for much more attention to develop common struggles of scheme workers to resist the attack on the schemes by better coordination. Surekha, from the AICC Asha Workers greeted the conference, narrating the successful struggles and emphasising on more joint struggles, and asked the delegates to consolidate the organisation as well.

Resolutions on ‘Strengthening the ECCE in anganwadi centres’ (moved by S Varlalakshmi and supported by Shubha Shamim ), On Observance of 50 years of CITU( moved by Shakuntala and supported by Sunanda), ‘In support of the people of Kashmir’ (moved by Arati and supported by Lateefa), Solidarity with the struggle of students of JNU (moved by Veena Gupta and supported by A R Sindhu), Against attack on democratic Rights (moved by Neelima Maitra and supported by Karthyayani ), Against atrocities on Dalits , Adivasis (moved by Jaya Barman and supported by Indira Newar), Against atrocities on women and children (moved by Rajkumari and supported by Shubha Shamim ), On organising other sectors (moved Subbravamma and supported by Kishori Verma)

The cultural team of AP anganwadi union inspired the delegates with revolutionary songs and cultural programmes. In the evening on the third day there was a camp fire and various state delegations presented their cultural programmes.

The Credentials report was presented by Anju Maini.

The conference was concluded by K Hemalata, President CITU and former General Secretary AIFAWH who was present throughout the conference. She emphasized the possibilities of the movement and the importance of politicalisation of cadres at various levels.

The conference gave warm greetings to the reception committee members and volunteers who worked day and night to make the conference a big success. Arun (joint convenor reception committee) introduced the members of the various committees and the volunteers.

The conference ended with shouting of slogans and singing the Internationale by the Praja natya mandali.

The conference decided to reorient the work ideologically, politically and organizationally

Ideologically – understand our role, as part of the working class, in changing society, which alone can end all exploitation

Politically – understand the link between our problems and the problems of the working class and toiling masses in general, and the policies being pursued by the government and that it is the politics of the ruling classes that decide these policies; prioritise and orient the direction of our movement accordingly

Organisationally- attracting and preparing the best dedicated, ideologically equipped class cadres with most innovative, creative, democratic and inclusive methods and through them reaching out to the masses to prepare them for the most militant class confrontation

For that, ruthless criticism of ourselves on our own feudal, patriarchal, undemocratic traits as individuals as well as an organisation and weeding out such vices.

Scientific and meticulous planning with minute details is necessary for consolidation and expansion.

With that resolve the conference took the following tasks

Immediate Tasks

Rigorous Campaign for next forty days for the 8 January 2020 General strike to reach at least 10 lakh anganwadi workers and helpers to expose the anti worker policies of the Modi II government. Minimum 10 lakh leaflets to be distributed. Conduct all sector/circle/block meetings to reach all members.

  1. 8 January 2020 strike to be made a successful ‘Bharat Bandh’. At least 10 lakh workers to be brought to the streets on the strike day. Organise Rail/Road Roko programmes. Circle/Block / District level dharnas for 24 hours on strike day.
  2. 8 March 2020 to be observed as a struggle day as per CITU call. Massive campaign before the action.
  3. Special campaign and action for quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in anganwadis in place of the proposed ‘Pre School Education’ before the next academic year
  4. National convention for ‘Hunger, malnutrition, hatred, fear and discrimination free childhood’ in March/April to highlight the importance of ICDS and the role of anganwadi employees
  5. 10 July 2020 March to Parliament on regularization and save ICDS with minimum 35000 participation
  6. Reporting of the conference up to the circle/sectoral level
  7. A workshop of Hindi speaking states in December (along with MDMWFI and AICCAW)
  8. State level workshop to fine plan the conference tasks within three months

Movemental Tasks

  1. Campaign and movement against hunger and malnutrition and for strengthening ICDS with adequate nutrition, health facilities and quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)
  2. Strengthen all India movement on implementation of 45th ILC recommendations and for anganwadi cum crèche centres with all facilities and resources
  3. Strengthen the State level movements for uniform facilities as in other states.
  4. Develop Scheme workers’ movement
  5. Take up issues of other sections of the working people
  6. Massive campaign and actions for communal harmony, rationality and egalitarian values against hatred, obscurantism and discrimination on the basis of gender, caste and ethnicity

Organisational Tasks

  1. Strengthen the all India Centre with more cadre and resources
  2. Activise inactive unions in states
  3. Strengthen the state centres and equip them to take up the tasks
  4. Increase membership to 6.75 lakhs in 2020
  5. Special Plan for consolidation of movement in Hindi Speaking states
  6. Special attention on problems of helpers. Promote them in leadership to achieve a target of minimum 25% at all levels
  7. Priority in cadre building at all levels. Target 25 cadres per district
  8. Special drive for trade union education for cadres at various levels with appropriate syllabus on the occasion of 50 years of CITU. Develop adequate teachers as well
  9. Strengthen ties with fraternal mass organisations on issue based struggles
  10. Achieve set target in organizing other sectors in coordination with their organisations

The conference elected a 75 member committee with 25 office bearers. New office bearers are Usharani, President, A R Sindhu, General Secretary and Anju Maini, Treasurer.

Profile of Delegates – Credential Report

The conference was attended by 668 delegates (595 delegates and 73 observers) from 24 unions of 23 states. The conference was attended by 535 Workers (including 6 retired workers), 77 helpers (12.94%) 4 Mini workers and 51 organisers and 1 ASHA (fraternal delegate) attended the conference. 26 were male delegates.

20% of the delegates were below 40 years. 40% were between 40 to 50 years of age. Neelima Maitra, the founder General Secretary who is 86 years old, was the oldest delegate and Pooja Nagesh, 27 years, from Chhatisgarh (D) was the youngest. While 24% of the delegates were graduates, and 13% post graduates, only 4 were illiterate. 12% of the delegates were widows, divorcees or separated. 18.11% delegates were scheduled castes, 6.34% tribals and 31.44% were OBCs and 5.7% were minorities. 12% were from peasant families, 29% from agricultural worker families and 23% were from unorganized sector worker families.

51% of the delegates have more than 20 years of service. 62% of the delegates have family income below Rs.12,000 per month. 65% of the delegates are members of the union for more than 10 years and 15% between 5-10 years. 20% subscribe to ‘The Voice of the Working Woman,. 39% are district level leaders while 28% are state level leaders of the union. The conference was attended by 6 all India Office bearers of CITU as delegates, 14 Working Committee/General Council members. 15% of the delegates are state level leaders of CITU also.

4 delegates have attended all the all India Conferences. But almost half, 49% attended the conference for the first time. The conference was attended by 10 Gram Panchayat members and one councillor and two members of cooperative societies.

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