On one of the biggest ever mobilizations of the anganwadi workers and helpers, hundreds of anganwadi workers and helpers demonstrated in Patna on 10 October 2014.
Bihar is a state with very high levels of infant and child malnutrition. The quality of supplementary nutrition is so low and the supply is not reaching the centres for months together. The honorarium, which is one of the lowest in the country among various states, is not paid for 5-6 months together. To cover up the administrative and political failures, monitoring committees are formed one after another at the local level, the latest being the one which mainly harasses the overburdened anganwadi workers and helpers and asks forbribe for everything.
There is no pre-school kit, no medical kit, no uniform, no contingency… there is a long list of ‘no’s of things which are supposed to be an essential part of the anganwadi centres, in Bihar. Even the application for registration by the anganwadi workers and helpers union is accumulating dust in the labour office for the last few years. Numerous representations by the union on different occasions have gone into the dustbins of the directorate and the ministry.
In such a situation, the union decided to hold a two day dharna in Patna on 10-11 October 2014. Hundreds of anganwadi workers and helpers who are agitated over the negative attitude of the state government towards their demands, gathered at R Block in Patna, where a meeting was held. The meeting was addressed by A R Sindhu, General Secretary, AIFAWH, Ganesh Shankar Singh, General Secretary, Arun Mishra, Vice President, state CITU Shobha Sinha General Secretary and various leaders of the state anganwadi union, the Bihar state government employees union and other mass organisations.
The Secretary to the Chief Minister met a delegation of the union since the Chief Minister was out of town. He assured the delegation to get an appointment with the Chief Minister within a week’s time and requested the union to withdraw the agitation. The union called off the dharna on the basis of the assurance.
The Chief Minister called the union for a discussion on the very next day and assured that he will consider all their demands including the increase in honorarium, favourably and will call a meeting of all the anganwadi unions and announce the decisions within a week. The Union welcomed the assurance by the Chief Minister, but cautioned the workers to be prepared for struggles, in case the promises are not fulfilled.