People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 50

December 16, 2012





Anganwadi Workers Hold Fifth State Conference


Vijay Kumar



FIFTH state level conference of anganwadi workers in Karnataka was held successfully from November 3-5 in the historic city of Mysore. Anganwadi workers came in thousands from far flung places of the state to paint the city red. Preceding the conference, a mammoth rally of anganwadi workers was held. More than twelve thousand red clad women filled up the streets of Mysore and the city had never witnessed such a massive rally of women workers in the recent past. They moved like warriors with conviction and determination. Holding the red flags and raising the slogans, they surged on the streets leaving indelible imprint in the minds of onlookers.


The inaugural session was organised at the Scout Grounds which was brimming with thousands of women who seemed untired even after walking a considerable distance in rally. Brinda Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member who inaugurated the conference congratulated the anganwadi workers for carrying out a relentless struggle for decades and thus inspiring other sections of the working class. She decried the present ruling and opposition political groupings, UPA and NDA for their apathy towards toiling people and said that though they carried different names they had a common class interest in protecting the rich. The present economic regime has no space for the workers, she said. Both the Congress and BJP are two faces of a fake currency. Both of them speak in Delhi and Bangalore about all inclusive growth and finally decide the policies in favour of big corporate houses. No country can prosper neglecting the progress of women, she said. Whether it is Manmohan Singh or the chief minister of a state, they do not bring family silver for the development of the nation. It is people’s money which chugs the growth engine of the country. ICDS, mid-day meal, NRHM, all these programmes are running successfully because of the labor of the toiling women. The government, which has doled out a huge sum of rupees five lakh crores as concessions to capitalist class, has lent deaf ears to the issues of anganwadi workers. This is a deliberate mockery, Brinda said. Anganwadi workers have been demanding a wage hike commensurate with the volume of work they are doing. Instead of wage increase, the government has increased the working hours from six to eight hours. Anganwadi workers are ready to go a mile further provided they are adequately compensated for the work. The government should concede to the demands of anganwadi workers who are most exploited, she asserted. Calling the honororium being paid to the anganwadi workers as a mockery, she told the governments to keep their honor with them and pay them the minimum wage of rupees ten thousand and regularise their services. Brinda said that she had raised a question in the parliament on the plight of this most exploited section who are compelled to do thirty six jobs of various nature apart from their basic work which they are assigned to. The women empowerment committee in the parliament had a discussion on the issues concerning the anganwadi workers. Hemalata, the then general secretary of AIFAWH was also invited. The committee recommended for pension, bonus and regularisation of the services of anganwadi workers as government employees. The government did not consider these recommendations. When the issue was raised by the CPI(M) in the parliament, the major opposition party, BJP maintained stoic silence. Both the BJP and the Congress parties were together on the issue and connived in class apathy towards anganwadi workers, she said. Now the government says it would restrict the supply of LPG cylinders to six per year conjoined with escalation in the prices of essential commodities. The government pays a paltry rupees one hundred towards fuel and expects an anganwadi worker to cook twice a day. The worker is shelling her own money to keep the kitchen fire burning, Brinda said. The government should refund this money with interest to the anganwadi workers, she demanded. Today the struggle being carried out by anganwadi wokers against malnutrition is a universal struggle and should be joined by the common people. With their explicable experience with the ruling classes, the anganwadi workers must understand who are their political allies and foes and develop a political consciousness, Brinda Karat exhorted.


Hemalata, national secretary of the CITU also addressed the inaugural session. She condemned the indifference of the governments towards issues of the anganwadi workers. Instead of further strengthening the scheme by more funding the governments have handed over the scheme on a silver platter to SHGS, Airtel, JP group, ISCKON and mothers’ committees, she said.


VJK Nair, state president of the CITU demanded rupees ten thousand as wages to helpers and rupees fifteen thousand to anganwadi workers. He also called upon the anganwadi workers to make success the two day strike action called by the central trade unions on February 20-21, 2013.


While congratulating the anganwadi workers for carrying out a militant struggle for a long thirty seven years holding the red flag aloft, GV Sriram Reddy, CPI(M) state secretary asked them to strengthen the political forces favourable to the working class in the electoral process.


The delegate session was held on November 4-5  and the conference decided to further strengthen the anganwadi workers movement in the state, continue to strenghthen ICDS, chart a struggle path to achieve minimum wages, to work for the right to pre-school education to children, to fight against malnutrition, against price rise, to demand job security and food security.


The conference felicitated the family members of those comrades who dedicated their lives for building up a strong working class movement in the state, braving the inclement conditions.


The conference elected S Varalaxmi as president, Shantha Ghante as working president, Sunanda as general secretary and Kamala as treasurer for the ensuing term. The conference also elected eighteen other office bearers and state council of one hundred and fifty four members.