Anganwadi Federations to organise National Convention to “Save ICDS” on Nov 5
The following is the statement issued by the Anganwadi federations affiliated to the CITU, AITUC, HMS, AICCTU and AITUC, on October 28. THE Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme which has completed forty years this year is the only comprehensive programme which ensures the right of the child under six years, to food, health and education and of pregnant women to food and healthcare. In our country where nearly half of our children are undernourished and nearly 80 percent of the mothers are anaemic, the role of ICDS was acclaimed by the Supreme Court itself. The ICDS now covers nearly 8 crore children under six and 1.9 crore pregnant women and lactating mothers. Although it has formally universalised the scheme under compulsion, the successive governments at the centre were not serious about strengthening the ICDS, rather there were continuous efforts to privatise the scheme. The drastic cut in the central budget allocations for ICDS by the NDA government from Rs 18,108 crores in 2014-15 to a mere Rs 8,245.77crores in the budget 2015-16 on the pretext of greater devolution of funds to the states has already started affecting the scheme. In states like Bihar, Punjab UP etc, the supplementary nutrition is not being supplied since the last 4-5 months. Anganwadi employees are not being paid wages in many states including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra etc since the last 4-5 months. Even the union minister for WCD publicly admitted that the department had no money to pay its employees. Since 2011, the remuneration of the anganwadi employees has not been increased whereas the working hours have been increased. Many additional responsibilities are also given to the employees. Today they have to work more than eight hours a day. They are forced to ‘retire’ without any social security. The NDA government has ignored the recommendation of the 45th Indian Labour Conference, the highest tripartite forum of the country, to recognise the anganwadi workers and helpers and employees, give them minimum wages and pension and other social security benefits. The Samyukta Morcha of Anganwadi Employees’ Federations is a joint platform of all anganwadi federations affiliated to different central trade unions. At the call of the Samyukta Morcha, the anganwadi workers and helpers all over the country have joined the all India general strike on September 2, 2015 in protest against the apathetic attitude of the government towards the ICDS and their most genuine demands. But, instead of addressing their demands, the ministry of women and child development signed a memorandum of understanding with Cairn India Ltd, a subsidiary of the multinational corporation ‘Vedanta’ to ‘to develop and modernise 4000 next generation anganwadis’ in the country. As per this agreement these ‘new generation anganwadi centres’ would be ‘run as a shared space in which 50 percent of the time will be devoted to children’s education and the remaining half will support women’s skill development’. This is against the basic concept of the ICDS. In this background, the Samyukta Morcha has decided to organise a national convention on November 5 at Mavlankar Hall, Rafi Marg, New Delhi to ‘Save ICDS’. Nearly a thousand anganwadi workers and helpers from all over the country will participate in the convention. The convention will chalk out future action programmes including a ‘March to Parliament’ before the budget session of the parliament.