People's Democracy

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


No. 29

July 18, 2010

Massive All India Strike of Anganwadi Employees


K Hemalata


JULY 9, 2010 once again witnessed the anger and resentment of the anganwadi employees towards the UPA II government. After waiting for more than two months for concrete action by the government on the assurances given by the prime minister on their demands, more than ten lakh anganwadi employees closed their centres and participated in a massive all India strike on July 9. More than four lakhs participated in the demonstrations, processions, dharna, picketing, rasta roko, rail roko etc held on the occasion; in hundreds of places effigies of the prime minister were burnt. It is to be recalled that the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers, which held the massive ‘mahapadav’ on May 4-5, 2010 on the major demands of the anganwadi employees, warned the government of a nationwide strike in July if no concrete measures were taken on the assurances of the prime minister on pension, gratuity and enhancement of their remuneration before that time. The Akhil Bharatiya Anganwadi Karmachari Kriti Samiti and Mahila Anganwadi Karmachari Sangh, Uttar Pradesh also joined the strike.


The response of the anganwadi employees to the call for strike was unprecedented. It was massive and near total in many states including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. In several states, project level and district level demonstrations were held.




In Andhra Pradesh, the strike was total with anganwadi employees in all the projects joining the strike despite the attempts by the child development project officers and the supervisors who went around the centres in vehicles threatening the anganwadi employees against participating in the strike. The government wanted to disrupt the strike by asking the accredited social health activists (ASHAs) and Indira Kranti Pathakam (IKP – a state government programme) animators to run the anganwadi centres on the day. A few days earlier, the director of women development and child welfare directed all the supervisors to provide lists of the anganwadi workers and helpers ‘who were creating problems and trouble’ in the functioning of the anganwadi centres, in a bid to target the union activists for victimisation. But none of these attempts by the state government could deter the anganwadi employees from participating in the strike. More than one lakh anganwadi employees participated in the project level dharna, processions, rallies; in many projects, rasta rokos were held. Police resorted to arrests in Vizianagaram and Krishna districts but the anganwadi employees refused to go back without their leaders forcing the police to release them.


In Assam, strike was total in 22 out of the 27 districts in the state; anganwadi employees in 167 projects out of the total 228 projects in the state participated in the strike; district level mobilisations were held in 16 districts while in one district, project level demonstrations were held; around 17,000 anganwadi employees participated in processions and submitted memoranda addressed to the prime minister, to the deputy commissioners; for the first time anganwadi employees in Shivsagar district in the Brahmaputra valley and Cachar Hailakandi in Borak valley participated in the strike.


In Chattisgarh, except Kabirdham district, strike was total in all the 19 other districts. In addition to the district level rallies and demonstrations, a massive rally in which more than 2500 anganwadi employees participated, was held in the state capital, Raipur; around 800 – 900 anganwadi employees participated in the rally in Rajnandgaon and burnt the effigy of the prime minister. Despite rain, anganwadi employees in large numbers participated in the demonstrations and blocked the roads for several hours in many places. Around 15,000 anganwadi employees in the districts of Dantewada, Jagadalpur, Bijapur, Narayangarh, Kanker, Sarguja, Korba and Jashpur participated in the strike and demonstrations.


Gujarat witnessed an unprecedented strike by the anganwadi employees and massive participation in demonstrations. The strike was total in 22 districts and demonstrations were held in 15 districts. Thousands of anganwadi employees held demonstrations, rasta roko and dharnas in Bharuch, Navsari, Anand, Baroda, Dahod, Rajkot, Kutch, Khambet etc. In Ahmedabad and Surat districts though strike could not be held in the cities, it was total in the rural areas; in four districts, the police resorted to lathi charge and use of force on the anganwadi employees.


The strike was total in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. More than 1.5 lakhs anganwadi employees closed the centres and participated in the processions and meetings in West Bengal and submitted memoranda addressed to the prime minister, to the CDPOs and local authorities. In Kerala, all members of AIFAWH joined the strike; panchayat, project and district level demonstrations were held; rail roko was held in two districts; rasta roko in two and project level picketing was held in one district; effigies of the prime minister were burnt in several places. The strike was total in Tripura; around 19,000 anganwadi employees participated in the strike. Project and sub division level demonstrations were held in all the projects/ sub divisions and around 15,000 anganwadi employees participated in these demonstrations, processions and meetings; memoranda addressed to the prime minister were submitted through the district authorities.


Uttar Pradesh is another state where the strike was unprecedented. It was total in the eastern and western parts of the state; 70- 80 per cent in Bundelkhand and southern parts; and partial in the central part.  Demonstrations, dharna, and burning of effigies were held in several project and district headquarters including Moradabad, Bijnor, JP Nagar, Meerut etc. In Maharashtra too, the strike was total; demonstrations were held at the district headquarters and memoranda were submitted.




More than 80 per cent of the anganwadi employees in Karnataka participated in the strike; huge demonstrations were held in almost all the districts and in the state capital Bengaluru. In Punjab, strike was observed in all the 20 districts in the state and was total in several districts; rasta and rail roko, dharna, demonstrations, processions, burning of effigies etc were held in all the districts in which more than 10,000 participated; police resorted to force in Sangrur where Usha Rani, president of the union and secretary of the AIFAWH was injured along with several other anganwadi employees.


In Haryana, strike was observed in 18 out of the 21 districts in the state; in Gurgaon, Bhiwani, Panipat, Hisar, Sirsa, Faridabad, Karnal, Palwal, and Mewat, anganwadi employees organised processions and rasta rokos; in some places anganwadi employees carried the effigy of the prime minister on their shoulders and marched before burning it. In Panipat, the traffic on the national highway was blocked for around one hour; despite the floods, demonstrations and rasta rokos were held in Kaithal and Yamuna Nagar.


Strike was observed in 23 districts of Madhya Pradesh and demonstrations were held in 17 districts; in six districts rasta rokos was held; effigies were burnt in several places; memoranda addressed to the prime minister were submitted to the district collectors in all the districts; in several districts including Jabalpur and Bhopal, the officers resorted to threats and brought tremendous pressure on the anganwadi employees to disrupt the strike; despite this, anganwadi employees participated in large numbers; in Jabalpur, anganwadi employees marched for a distance of two kilometers in a huge procession.


The strike was total in the districts of Dehra Dun, Pauri Garhwal, Chamoli and Uddhamsingh Nagar in Uttarakhand and partial in Tehri, Garhwal, Almora and Haridwar; anganwadi employees who were not members of AIFAWH also participated in the strike in several districts; rasta roko was held in Pauri Garhwal; project level demonstrations were held in Chamoli; district level demonstrations were held in other districts; memoranda addressed to the prime minister were submitted to the district authorities.


More than 1000 anganwadi employees in Gaya district of Bihar held a day long dharna in the district headquarters and burnt the effigy of the prime minister. The strike evoked enthusiastic response also in several other districts including Nawada, Jehanabad, Darbhanga and East Champaran. For the first time, the anganwadi employees in Delhi also participated in the strike. Hundreds of anganwadi employees from different parts of the national capital gathered at the busy ITO centre and burnt the effigy of the prime minister amidst thunderous slogans, resisting police pressure. In Orissa, strike was observed in four districts; hundreds of anganwadi employees held a rally in Balasore and submitted a memorandum to the district collector; road blocks and demonstrations were also held in some projects. In Rajasthan, strike was observed in Sikar, Churu, Chittorgarh, Dongarpur and Jaipur districts; hundreds of anganwadi employees demonstrated before the offices of the district collectors and submitted memoranda.


Though strike was not observed in Himachal Pradesh, as the anganwadi employees went on strike only a few days before on their pressing state level demands, demonstrations were held at the district level in which hundreds of anganwadi employees participated. In Tamilnadu more than 7000 anganwadi employees gathered in Chennai and started an indefinite sit-in near the Marina beach, which lasted for two days. The police arrested around thousand anganwadi employees on July 11 and released them later.  In Puducherry, centralised demonstration was held and a memorandum was submitted.


The AIFAWH congratulated all the anganwadi employees, the state committees and the activists of the Federation for making the strike an unprecedented success with the massive participation in the demonstrations. It has demanded the government to take immediate steps to fulfil the assurances given by the prime minister and warned that the struggle would be further intensified if the government continues to neglect the demands.