The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme under the Ministry of Women and Child Development recently crossed 43 years since its inception.
However, the Anganwadi workers, helpers and cooks, who have made it successful and beneficial, are on the road today demanding their dues.
From Goalpara College field to the deputy commissioner’s office, they made a long queue and submitted a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister of India.
The memorandum emphasised upon giving at least Rs 18,000 to these workers from the present Rs 3,000. Moreover, they demanded pension scheme for their secured future.
“Despite working for eight hours per day, we get this paltry amount. No money for medical treatment. On the other hand, every single day, the government throws burden of implementing new schemes upon us whereas honorarium remains the same,” said Praneswari Nath, the district president of the Anganwadi Worker, Helper, Midday Meal Cooks’ association.
She further alleged that the central government allocated less than Rs 100 crore in 2018-19 budget whereas the advisors committee on the ICDS scheme recommended for Rs 28,405 crore. “We demand increase of the budget allocation,” Nath added.
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is a central government programme which provides food, pre-school education,primary healthcare, immunisation, health check-up and referral services to children under 6 years of age and their mothers.
The scheme was first launched in 1975, discontinued in 1978 by the government of Morarji Desai, and then relaunched by the 10th Five Year Plan.
India had around 158 million children under the age of 6 and about 26 million births in 2015. In the same year, India’s Integrated Child Development Services Scheme served about 82 million children under 6 years and over 19 million pregnant women and lactating mothers.
These 102 mn beneficiaries received services in about 1.3 million centres. In Assam, there are sixty two thousand Anganwadi centres.