All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) strongly condemns the decision of the government of India, as stated by the Minister for Women, to change the policy of replacing hot cooked meals in the anganwadi centres with ready to eat packed dry mixtures. We also condemn her totally unsubstantiated statement that ‘anganwadi stopped being an effective delivery system 20 years ago’ contradicting evidence provided by various studies and reports.
This indicates the intent of the BJP led NDA government to weaken and ultimately dismantle the anganwadi centres and to involve the corporate food giants in the ICDS. It is to be recalled that a former Minister for Commerce has invited Pepsico to provide packaged food to the anganwadi centres.
We also strongly oppose the decision of the government to introduce Direct Cash Transfer in 300 districts to start with and expand it to the entire country in a year. This is nothing but another attempt to weaken the ICDS.
Since coming to power the NDA government has been trying to dismantle ICDS. It has drastically cut down the budget allocations and changed the funding patterns, which has already affected the services of ICDS. It has replaced hot cooked food with take home ration. The cash transfer now will be the death knell to ICDS, which has earned worldwide recognition for its role in reducing severe malnutrition, bringing down infant mortality rate etc.
In addition, the job of over 26 lakh anwadi workers and helpers, all women, mostly from poor and socially oppressed sections of the society, will be under serious threat because of this decision.
The BJP which promised to improve the conditions of the anganwadi workers and helpers if voted to power appears to be bent upon devastating their lives after assuming power.
AIFAWH calls upon the anganwadi employees all over the country to collectively thwart the attempts of the government for cash transfer. It calls upon all its state units to organise protest demonstrations throughout the country and burn effigies of the government demanding withdrawal of this decision. These measures to dismantle ICDS cannot b e allowed. AIFAWH also seeks the support of the beneficiaries of ICDS, the common people and the organisations of peasants, agricultural workers, women etc in its struggle to Save ICDS.
A R Sindhu