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Monday, March 27, 2023

Anganwadi Workers’ Agitation for Better Working Condition

The Workers Continue to Get a Raw Deal

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

INDIA: Thousands of Anganwadi workers have begun a sit-in agitation to demand fulfillment of their demands, including the hike in remuneration, payment of monthly pension, filling of vacancies, and promotion, at Azad Maidan in South Mumbai.

The Union government established Anganwadis (courtyard shelters) in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. There are approximately 13 lakh Anganwadi workers in India. Nearly two lakh of these Anganwadi workers are in Maharashtra.

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These workers are primarily women and are attached to local government-run dispensaries, with every worker catering from 40 to 400 households. The Anganwadi Sevikas have been demanding an increase in remuneration, a new mobile phone with a Marathi app to record daily developments, a nutritious diet to beneficiaries, a hike in Anganwadi rent, and their absorption in regular state government service since long. 

They had organized a district-wise agitation to further their demands on February 23. It was withdrawn based on the assurance given by the Women and Child Welfare Principal, Secretary Idzes Kundan. However, in an ongoing budget session of the state legislature, except for the announcement to provide them with a new mobile phone, no other statement was made. 

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As such, they organized a morcha on Tuesday, during which they were expecting a meeting with Women and Child Welfare Minister Yashomati Thakur to redress their grievances. However, since they were denied the appointment, they decided to continue their agitation till the conclusion of the budget session.

The agitation is being led by the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH). The action committee comprising the office bearers-Shubha Shamim, Brijpal Singh, Dilip Utena, Kamal Parulekar, and Suvarna Talekar, have coordinated the agitation.

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The Anganwadi workers are categorized as “Anganwadi Sevika,” “Mini-Anganwadi Sevika,” and “Assistants.” They retire at the age of 65 years. On average, the Anganwadi Sevikas get the remuneration of Rs 10,000/- per month. The salary is revised once in 5 years, and one can draw higher payment only after putting in at least 25 years of service. They get a lump sum of Rs one lakh (Rs 75,000 to the Assistants) at their tenure. The remuneration is too meager, going by the galloping inflation. They have suggested that they be paid a monthly pension equivalent to half of the income, so it could be helpful to them and would cost at the most Rs 10 crore annually to the state government.

Speaking to the Transcontinental Times, AIFAWH Vice President Shubha Shamim said it is deplorable that the government is not concerned about the Anganwadi Sevikas doing yeomen’ s service to the society. As such, we will continue our agitation until our demands are met.

The government does not consider the people employed as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and Anganwadi sevikas as workers or employees in the formal sense. However, their services are utilized for different types of Government jobs.

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  • Raju Vernekar

    Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

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