Anganwadi Sevika Sahayaka Sangh workers in Ranchi, Jharkhand have been protesting for over 40 days with a list of demands.
Anganwadi workers' mahapanchayat on 31-Aug-2019
They are protesting in support of their demands:
- Anganwadi workers are demanding that they be declared government workers. Till then the sevikas should be paid Rs. 18,000 and sahayakas should be paid Rs. 9,000 per month
- Mini Anganwadi Sevikas should be treated the same way anganwadi sisters are treated
- To end the practice of an upper age limit while granting promotions to the anganwadi workers
- Anganwadi workers should be given social security benefits
- Retirement age of workers should be increased to 65 from 60 years, like was done by the Bihar government. At retirement, sevikas should be given Rs. 5 lakh and sahayakas should be given Rs. 3 lakh as retirement benefit.
Anganwadi workers play a crucial role in the implementation of India’s ambitious Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme which aims to deliver early education, health and nutrition services across the country through a network of around 1.3 million Anganwadi centres.
Currently, Anganwadi workers are paid a fixed honorarium that varies from state to state. The demands of Rs. 18,000 as minimum wages and recognition as permanent workers have been long standing demands of these workers across the country. They have repeatedly taken to the streets for these demands in almost all the states. However, the just demands of these health workers who are so critical to nearly every government program that is meant to serve the nutritional needs of children and women and early education of children have been ignored. Not only that, they have come under attack by the “law-maintenance” authorities for coming out on the streets.
The most recent and shocking incident has been reported from Jharkhand. Videos clearly showed policemen armed with batons beating up women in a protest march. Female Anganwadi Sevika Sahayaka Sangh workers were beaten and punched by Jharkhand police in Ranchi on 24th September, which was the 40th consecutive day of their protest.
Time and again promises have been made to these workers who have been protesting militantly even as they continue to carry on their work. In a country with the largest number of malnourished children, anganwadi centres play a crucial role by providing pre-school education and primary healthcare and nutrition to children under six years of age, nursing mothers and pregnant women.
All the time, the parties in power have boasted of the ICDS programme of being one of the largest and providing services to the highest number of beneficiaries. But the labour of the workers who are the backbone of these programmes is not respected and is largely ignored.
Ignoring their repeated demands and punishing them with lathis must be roundly condemned. MEL supports the just struggle of the Anganwadi workers in every state.