People's Democracy

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


No. 52

December 29, 2013




Women Workers Hold a Month Long

State-Wide Jatha


Raghunath Singh


ANGANWADI Mulajam Union, Punjab, the strongest organisation of anganwadi employees in Punjab, affiliated to the CITU conducted a month long jatha against privatisation of ICDS that would lead to its weakening and ultimate dismantling. This was in response to the call of the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) to conduct a wide campaign involving the anganwadi employees as well as the beneficiaries to ‘Save ICDS’.


The historic jatha, the first ever in Punjab to be held by women workers for such a long period, started from Jallianwala Bagh, the soil of martyrs on November 7, the day of the Great October Revolution. A team of office bearers of the union including Usha Rani, president, Harjit Kaur, general secretary and Subhas Rani, finance secretary led the jatha. The vehicle was decorated with posters and banners depicting the militant struggles led by the union on the demands of the anganwadi employees.


Around 500 anganwadi employees from Amritsar participated in the public meeting in Jallianwala Bagh to mark the launching of the jatha which was flagged off by Hemalata, national secretary of CITU and vice president of AIFAWAH. Vijay Misra, president and Raghunath Singh, general secretary of Punjab state committee of CITU and others addressed the gathering.


In its month long journey, the jatha traversed a distance of around five thousands kilometres, held 43 public rallies and meetings, covering 20 out of 22 districts and 106 blocks out of the total 153 blocks in the state. Around 25,000 people including anganwadi employees, members of fraternal class and mass organisations and common people participated in these rallies and addressed over 25 thousands anganwadi workers and helpers, workers of other friendly trade unions and mass organisations apart from common people.


The jatha created a lot of enthusiasm among the anganwadi employees as well as the members of the CITU and fraternal organisations in the state. It was given a warm and ceremonial welcome at the entry points of the towns and cities and taken to the venue of the meetings in a procession. Flowers were showered and militant slogans raised. Around 150 anganwadi employees and 100 CITU activists took out a procession on motorcycles, scooters and cars with the CITU flags and banners ahead of the jatha from Hussainiwalla to Ferozepur. The district and project committees of the union all over the state made very good arrangements for the jatha including food, accommodation etc. Financial help was also extended in some places.


In some places, MNREGA workers, ASHAs, mid-day-meal workers, industrial workers and government employees also participated in the rallies in support of the issues and demands raised by the jatha. In several places, the beneficiaries also participated in the public meetings.


The jatha concluded at the village of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh on December 3. After paying tributes to Bhagat Singh, the jatha was joined by over 700 anganwadi employees from the district in a procession that culminated in a massive public meeting near the home of Bhagat Singh.


The jatha inspired not only the anganwadi employees in the state but also other sections of workers, employees and fraternal organisations and the trade union movement in general. Over 600 anganwadi employees from several blocks who were with other unions publicly joined the Anganwadi Mulajam Union, Punjab.


The leaders of the union who led the jatha learned many things from the common anganwadi employees and the people. It has helped in strengthening the collective functioning of the leadership. Many new cadres got training in addressing meetings and other organisational activities. The union has identified around 350 young activists and planned to train and develop them to take up more responsibilities in the union.  The jatha was also able to take the CITU’s message and the slogan of ‘unity and struggle’ to newer cities, towns and villages. It has also helped in an unprecedented mobilisation of anganwadi employees from the state in the joint ‘March to Parliament’ in Delhi on December 12, 2013.


A huge ‘Lalkar rally’ was organised in Chandigarh to mark the end of the jatha. Around 10,000 anganwadi employees participated in the rally from all the districts in the state despite obstacles sought to be created by the administration by imposing section 144 and issuing circulars directing that they have to obtain prior permission. The massive participation compelled the director of ICDS, Punjab, who is also the principal secretary to the chief minister to come to the rally and receive the memorandum. He commended the work of the anganwadi employees and assured to make some positive recommendations to the government.