January 17, 2016

National Seminar on Malnutrition, Govt Policies & ICDS

ON January 6, 2016, the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) completed 25 years. The occasion coincided with the eighth conference of AIFAWH. A national seminar on ‘Malnutrition, Government policies and ICDS was held at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram on January 6, 2016.

Noted journalist ‘activist’ P Sainath demanded ‘food equality’ rather than food security on priority basis to be ensured in the country. In this regard, the anganwadi workers and helpers are doing work that is more important than any official in the country, he said. Speaking about the intolerable levels of inequality in the country, he said that it has reached levels worse than under the British rule. The top 1 percent of the people in the country own 49 percent of all household wealth in the country and the top 15 billionaires in the country own wealth more than that owned by 50 percent of the population.

With the government polices, the prices of essential food items like pulses reached more than Rs 200 per kg and the average income of a family of five in India is less than Rs 5000 in 70 percent of the households.

Privatisation of water is going on very rapidly in India. Without water security there cannot be any food security, he said. The water inequality is growing with the cities getting 400 percent more water than the villages. Water crisis in the countryside is making women travel twice the distance for bringing water every day. With the privatisation of education, the 2011 census shows that 400 million Indians have not been to any educational institutions.

Labour laws are being changed so the workers won’t fight. The company which tried to snatch the tribals’ land, ‘Vedanta’ has been handed over the ICDS, by this government.

There are success stories of women creating alternatives, like the ‘Kudumbasree’ in Kerala, he said. No society can tolerate such inequalities and there is no alternative for struggles, he said.

Former additional secretary to the prime minister, K R Venugopal lauded the role of anganwadi centres in controlling infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) across the country. Children aged between zero and three years will no longer come to the anganwadi centres because of the ‘take home ration’ policy of the government and therefore there is a need to change this policy, he said. He further said there is huge corruption and irregularities in ICDS.

Speaking on the occasion, CITU national secretary and vice president of AIFAWH, K Hemalata said that the AIFAWH had launched a campaign to ‘Save ICDS’ in coordination with the beneficiaries , farmers, agricultural labourers, women, and workers and their organisations.

Neelima Maitra, president AIFAWH presided over the seminar, A R Sindhu, general secretary welcomed the participants and N Bharati, president, Telangana Anganwadi Workers and Helper’s Union, proposed the vote of thanks. N Saibabu, general secretary CITU Telangana and P Jayalakshmi, general secretary, Telangana Anganwadi Workers and Helper’s Union were present.