Mockery | Hard-work | 13th February 2022 | Virtual Wire
We are aware that health and nutrition are the most important factors that contribute to the development of human resources, especially during the early stages of life (up to 6 years of age).
The government of India has developed an Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) in response to the challenge of meeting the holistic need of the child, with Anganwadi being the focal point. The main function of Anganwadi is to provide nutritious food to all children of age six-year, nursing pregnant women from low-income families. Other functions include immunization against Tetanus, health education for children under the age of six and every woman aged 15-45 years, caring for expectant mothers, monitoring height, weight and other information regarding health indicators and sometimes assisting the election staff. In spite of being a crucial role of communication between the community and ICDS, the Anganwadi and helpers are not given their due shares. Over the past 2 months, thousands of Anganwadi workers and helpers are on strike in Delhi against low wages, inadequate honorarium, lack of training and basic facilities.
The Anganwadi worker, ‘Desh ki reed ki haddi’ also served as a frontline worker during the COVID-19. They have been deployed by many states to assist health staffers in covid centres and conduct door-to-door- surveys in locating suspected patients. In spite of their dedication and commitment, the anganwadis in Delhi currently receive a monthly salary of Rs 9,768 while the helpers receive Rs 4,839. The Modi government promised in 2018 to increase the honorarium by Rs1500 for anganwadis and by 700 for the helpers, but there have been no formal steps taken to implement his promises. Moreover, the Haryana government is giving Rs 11,811 to Anganwadi workers and Rs 6,045 to helpers as monthly honorarium which is lower than the salary of contractual unskilled workers (Rs 14,330-17,520), it also promised an incentive of Rs 1000 to each worker. Thus, the protesters are, demanding an increase of Rs 25,000 a month for workers and Rs 20,000 for workers.
The protest which started from Haryana, early in December last year, developed into a wider protest in Delhi against the unkept promises by the ML Khattar government and the Modi Government to raise their honorarium. This is nothing but a mockery of the hard work’. The protesters expressed their discontentment show their agitation by highlighting several issues faced by them: unavailability of drinking water, sanitation, mask, PPEs, burdened with work, meetings at odd hours, delay in payments, old age technologies etc. It has been also been highlighted that they are facing mass termination as they raise their voice. The trend continues all over the country showing the plight of the needy. The Uttar Pradesh, the Adityanath government promised compensation of Rs 50 lakh to families of 72 anganwadis who died during the second wave of COVID-19. However, only 12 of them received the compensation. There are many such promises made by the various state governments like Punjab’s government promise to hike the pay of the anganwadis, the AAP government’s promise to better the conditions of the helpers etc. such promises are nothing but a sham to woo voters in the upcoming election in February 2022.
The government must realize the importance of Anganwadi who serves as the most important link in the Indian healthcare system to provide affordable, accessible to the local population. Moreover, Anganwadi workers are India's main tool in tackling the threat of child malnutrition, infant mortality, child malnutrition, public health problems, and curbing preventable diseases. First, the government must take measures for Anganwadi infrastructure development and capacity building. Second, while the standards of all its services need to be raised, the workers should be given their due shares and compensated fairly. Third, it should be ensured that Anganwadi centres must meet the needs of the community and program workers through a holistic approach. Fourth, the Centre and state governments should together form a policy to ensure anganwadis their right, responsibilities and wages. All this must be implemented deliberately in order to develop the healthcare system effectively during the pandemic.