ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Workers in Their Own Right

Despite their crucial role in welfare services, scheme workers continue to struggle for recognition of their rights.


For the greater part of February, over two lakh anganwadi workers have been agitating for their demands in Maharashtra. In Bihar, cooks under the mid-day meal scheme (MDMS) in schools also went on a long strike in January demanding a pay hike. These anganwadi workers and cooks are among the scheme workers across the country who bring the central and state governments social welfare schemes to the people. In effect, they are the ambassadors and implementers of these schemes, many of which are flagship schemes of the respective governments. It is ironical, then, that their demands are met only after they go on strikes or agitate and, even then, the acceptance of their demands is made in a paltry and reluctant manner.

All across India, these scheme workers provide core services in basic areas like health, education, and nutrition. Termed as volunteers, they are poorly paid, carry a heavy workload, and are not eligible for any benefits that government employees get. There are around 27 lakh anganwadi workers and helpers, predominantly women, under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), a similar number under the MDMS, around 10 lakh accredited social health activists (ASHAs) and urban social health activists (USHAs), and around three lakh auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), all under the National Health Mission. There are many more lakhs under the National Child Labour Project, Small Savings Schemes, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and National Rural Livelihoods Mission, among others.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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