The Government’s Anganwadi childcare scheme has hit a hurdle as workers have launched a protest to demand conditions comparable with other government employees. On Friday, Anganwadi workers in the Farah district of Mathura burnt packets of nutritional supplements and blocked roads. There was no action taken against the officials for damaging Government property, however, their protest has not yet produced any results.
Jagran reports that there are more than 3400 Anganwadi workers and assistants in the area and they have been refusing to work for almost a month. Workers are becoming increasingly angry that, despite their protests, no government official has come to negotiate conditions. The workers are refusing to provide services until their pay is increased. They do not get even basic benefits like a retirement fund and are among the lowest paid of Government employees.
The Anganwadi scheme began in 1975 under the Integrated Child Development Services program. The centres provide supplementary nutrition, non-formal pre-school education, nutrition, health education, immunization, health check-ups and referral services.
The scheme was developed as a low cost solution to provide early child health care and education in rural areas. Anganwadi means “courtyard shelter”, so workers can set up centres in their own homes or in community centres, where available. This strategy has been challenged by the recent protests, as some protesters are saying that, in addition to low salary, they have to pay rent for the Anganwadi premises out of their own pocket.