People's Democracy

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


No. 39

September 27, 2009

 Second Conference of ASHAs Held in Bihar


THE Bihar Chikits avam Jan Swasthya Karamchari sangh Bihar Public Health Employees Union of which the Sangharsh Samiti of Manyata Prapt Samajit Karyakarta (ASHAs) is a part, organised the second state conference of ASHa workers at Sheikhpura in Bihar on September 13 to 14, 2009. Although the pulse polio programme was on from the September 13 to 17, around 200 delegates from all but six districts of Bihar, participated in the conference.

The union president Anup Ram hoisted the flag and presided over the conference. The proceeding started with homage at the martyrs column, followed by a Shobha Yatra (festive procession) through the town, with an elephant and drummers in front which had quite an impact on the public! The procession culminated in a public meeting at the wome'n hospital in Sheikhpura, which was addressed by the union leaders including the general secretary Arun Kumar Singh, convenor of the women subcommittee Bindu Kumari Singh and ASHAs secretary Manjula Kumari, amongh others.

The conference was inaugurated by Ranjana Nirula, CITU Working Committee member, who pointed out the importance of the ASHAs work, to help the rural poor to access public health services. Despite their hard work they are only paid a pittance in the form of incentives. While congratulating the ASHAs on their militant struggle for their rights and the bravery with which they faced police repression in the November 2007 struggle she urged them to fight to change the pro-rich policies of the government which are intensifying inequality in the country. They should learn from the example of the anganwadi workers and helpers who have struggle continuously for the past two decades, and have been able to get some increases in their honorarium, she said.

The report was placed by Manjula Kumari, and 31 delegates took part in the discussion on it, detailing the innumerable problems they suffer in the course of their work and putting forth demands for regular remuneration, rest rooms at PHCs, implementation of the  of the Rs 500 per month announced by the health minister in January 2009. etc.

Seven of the 22 women who were victimised in November 2008 and have not yet been reinstated, who attended the conference, were felicitated and given a token amount in solidarity by the union.

A programme of struggle was taken up which includes protests before the Civil surgeons' office on October 12, and a big demonstration before the chief minister on November 30, 2009.

Tarakant Prasad was elected as honorary president, Ruma Kumari as president Manjula Kumari as secretary and Meera Sinha as treasurer.