People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 10, 2008
Allocate Rs 12,000 Crore For ICDS
In The Coming Budget
Yechury Writes To PM
The following is the full text of the letter written to prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP Sitaram Yechury regarding Anganwadi workers' issues.
PLEASE refer to my meeting with you on August 3, 2006 along with my esteemed colleagues in parliament accompanying a delegation of the representatives of the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers, when your intervention was sought on the following burning issues concerning the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme and the anganwadi workers and helpers working in it --
Universalisation of ICDS as per the commitment in the NCMP
Immediate enhancement of the remuneration of the anganwadi workers and helpers
Ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh for the anganwadi workers and Rs 50,000 for the helpers who were being severed from service in the name of retirement and social security benefits
Making ICDS a permanent service and
Regularising the services of the anganwadi workers and helpers as Grade III and Grade IV employees
Informing that the government is committed to expand ICDS, you have assured that the remuneration of the anganwadi workers and helpers would be enhanced and the demand for 'ex gratia' of Rs 1 lakh for the anganwadi workers and Rs 50,000 for the helpers who were being severed from service in the name of retirement would be favourably considered.
Subsequently a 'Review Committee' has been constituted at your directive, reportedly to examine the demands raised by the Federation. The Committee has submitted its report around one year back. I am constrained to inform you that till today, neither have its recommendations been made public nor has the government taken any action on the assurances given by you.
You are well aware that despite achieving a steady growth of 8 - 9 per cent, India continues to be in the unenviable position of 128 in the Human Development Index, because of its high Infant Mortality Rate, Child Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality Rate, illiteracy Rate etc, among others. In spite of this alarming situation, the government has failed to make the necessary financial allocation to ICDS, which has been addressing these issues, in the last budgets. According to the written reply to a question in the parliament on November 26, 2007, only 7,97,155 anganwadi centres were providing supplementary nutrition to only 6 crore children out of the 16.4 crores, i.e. less than 40 per cent of all the eligible children. Still, only Rs 4,761 crore have been allotted in the last budget, which is too meagre to meet the requirements, as assured.
In view of the above, I request you to ensure that at least Rs 12,000 crores is allotted for ICDS in the ensuing budget, which should include Rs 2,500 crores exclusively for improving the conditions of the anganwadi employees and providing them pension and other social security benefits.