Anganwadi Workers & Helpers March to Parliament, Hold Massive rally
IN one of the biggest ever mobilisation of women workers in the capital, on November 21, 2014, twenty three thousand anganwadi workers and helpers from 21 states and UTs - Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Pondicherry Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal marched to Parliament in a colourful procession. The march started under the leadership of the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers from Ramlila Maidan. Dressed in red and holding placards, banners and boards with their demands written on them, the march was militant and impressive. Twenty workers from different states all wearing a gown written ‘Save ICDS’ in English and Hindi marched in front. A decorated truck loaded with nearly two crore signatures collected from all over the country from beneficiaries of ICDS and the employees, on a memorandum to the prime minister, moved behind. Leaders of the CITU and the AIFAWH led the militant procession to Jantar Mantar, through Ranjeet Singh fly over and Tolstoy Marg. Along with the demands of implementation of the recommendations of 45th ILC to recognise anganwadi workers and helpers as workers, payment of minimum wages and social security and pension, AIFAWH is raising the issue of large scale privatisation of the ICDS by handing over it to corporate NGOs. Reaching Jantar Mantar the march joined a sea of anganwadi workers and helpers who had come directly there. The rally was addressed by A K Padmanabhan, president, Tapan Sen general secretary CITU, Sitaram Yechury MP, Polit Bureau member of the of CPI (M) and leader of the Parliamentary Party in Rajya Sabha, K Hemalata, secretary, Ranjana Nirula, treasurer, CITU. AIFAWH leaders Neelima Maitra, president, A R Sindhu, general secretary, Usharani, (Punjab), Saroj Sharma, treasurer (HP), Varalakshmi, (Karnataka), P Roja, (AP), Ratna Dutta, (WB), Karthyayani, (Kerala), Daisy, (TN), Bharati, (Telangana), Indira Newar, (Assam), Sarita Pathak, (Chhattisgarh) Kamala, (Delhi) Santosh Rawal, (Haryana), Kishori Varma, (MP) Shubha Shamim, (Maharashtra) Veena Gupta, (UP) and Molina Ghosh (West Bengal) addressed the meeting. For the first time, the police was forced to take the delegation to the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) for submission of the signatures. Both the prime minister and the Minister for WCD being out of country, the PMO has received 1.64 crore signatures of the people of India on demands like, no privatisation of ICDS and minimum wages and pension to the anganwadi workers and helpers. Later, a delegation under the leadership of Tapan Sen, MP met the secretary, WCD, V S Oberoy and gave a memorandum on the demands of anganwadi workers and helpers. He assured the delegation, which consisted of A R Sindhu, Ratna Dutta,P Roja Saroj Sharma, and Usharani that he will discuss their demands at the department level in detail to find solutions at the earliest. The rally was also addressed by Hannan Mollah, general secretary, AIKS, Suneet Chopra, joint secretary AIAWU, Jagmati Sangwan, general secretary AIDWA and Avoy Mukherjee, general secretary, DYFI. A R Sindhu concluded the rally with a declaration of countrywide protest actions in case the prime minister does not discuss with the federation and the demands are not met with.