Mangaluru/Udupi, Feb 3, 2015:Anganwadi workers under the aegis of CITU stage an indefinite stir, in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office, in Mangaluru on Monday.
Taking an exception to the alleged attempt at privatising the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme,’ district unit of Karnataka State Anganwadi Workers Association affiliated to CITU began an indefinite stir, in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Mangaluru from Monday.
Addressing the protesters, CITU leader Vasanth Achary condemned the proposed decision of the government saying privatisation would intensely affect the interest of anganwadi workers across the country.
He said the primary function of anganwadi workers was to take care of children, mainly the ones suffering from malnutrition and pregnant women. By privatising anganwadi centres, it will affect the pregnant women and malnourished kids.
Fearing that privatisation would lead to mass removal of several anganwadi workers ,he said that the State government had decided to allow non-governmental organisations to maintain several anganwadi centres in Ballari, Belagavi, Bidar and Bengaluru.
CITU State Vice President B M Bhat said that the Centrally-sponsored ICDS scheme will be brought under mission mode under the new initiative of the government. The government has decided to hand over 10 per cent of the anganwadi centres to NGOs and 10 per cent to gram panchayats to maintain.
He alleged that the Union government was trying to sell the ICDS, which had been functioning effectively for the last 39 years. It is said that 180 anganwadi centres have been given to Sumangali Sevashrama in Bengaluru alone.
The anganwadi workers were hoping that their services would be regularised one day. However, now all the efforts went in vain.
“The government had suddenly thought of privatising the scheme in the name of attracting people’s participation and involving NGOs. The government was also trying to shift the focus of anganwadi centre away from their primary function of addressing malnutrition in children and helping pregnant women.”
The government is planning to mobilise resources from the community for the anganwadi centres. The State government had handed over the responsibility of pre education to Pratham and Prajayathna in Thipatoor and Musuru. A proposal has been submitted to the Centre seeking permission to hand over 10 per cent of anganwadi centress in Ballari, Belagavi and Bidar districts to NGOs.
The protesters urged the government to drop all plans of privatisation, initiate steps to regularise the services of anganwadi workers and assistants, hike their monthly honorarium.
“Even after 67 years of independence, the government has failed in its duty of providing food security its citizens. Now it is planning to hand over welfare schemes to the hands of private individuals,” said the protesters.
DK district unit of Karnataka State Anganwadi Workers Association President Ravikala said “we are demanding minimum wage of Rs 300 per day for the anganwadi workers. The government itself has not been meeting the long-pending demands of anganwadi workers. Can we expect the private management to do better than the government?” she asked.
She said that anganwadi assistants get only Rs 2,700 per month and are leading a pitiable life. The indefinite strike will be held till February 15 and a protest will be held at Bengaluru on February 16.
In Udupi, the anganwadi workers staged a protest in front of DC’s office in Manipal.
The protesters said that the ICDS should not be privatised and it should be upgraded into separate department. All Anganawdis should be upgraded and should be made permanent nurseries. The pre school learning should be brought under Right to Education Act 2009.
The Anganawadi workers should be considered as 3rd and 4th grade government employees.