Started by the Indian government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program, the Anganwadi scheme is, theoretically, an extremely important initiative. Its goals are as vital as they are comprehensive: to combat child nutrition and hunger, to provide basic health care, and to offer pre-school education.
Today’s video by Community Correspondent Priyasheela Besra demonstrates how, in practice, these ideals are often left far from fulfilled. The residents of the Harmonaya locality in Jharkhand have now been suffering for many months from a complete breakdown in the system.
The main beneficiaries targetted by the scheme are young children, teenage girls, pregnant women and nursing mothers. A settlement will normally have one Anganwadi worker, who answers to a Supervisor. The network of Supervisors is then headed by a Child Development Projects Officer (CDPO).
An Anganwadi employee evidently has her work cut out. From nursing newborn babies and vaccinating children to counselling young girls, providing antenatal care to pregnant women and nutrition to all, she has her hands full. Efficiency is then an essential requirement of the system.
It is a lack of this crucial efficiency that has prevented the Harmonaya community from receiving any of the benefits due to them. The officials in charge of running the township’s Anganwadi centre refuse, however, to acknowledge their shortcomings. A resident of the region, Priyasheela discussed the issue with us:
“The months have passed but nothing changes at the Anganwadi centre. It does not perform any of its duties, and we are tired of this continued neglect now. Young girls and nursing mothers are not receiving the care and counselling they should have access to. We also went to the school run by the centre for five days in a row and there were never more than five children present. They do not even stick to the ration routine specified by their own charts.”
“When I made this video, it angered our Anganwadi worker. She created a huge scene in the middle of the road and shouted at all of us who weren’t happy with the current state of affairs. The CDPO also refuses to accept any responsibility. She says that the Anganwadi workers are busy with polio and malaria surveys and that we should not depend on them for everything. They are always conducting some survey or the other. But what is the actual work being done? What real benefits do we receive?”
Through this video, we hope to bring some change to this sad status quo. With enough public support, the long-suffering residents of Harmonaya might finally gain in real life what has always been theirs on paper.
Call to Action: Please call the Child Development Programme Officer, Suravi Singh on 9431312338 and ask her to examine the Aganvadi Centre so that the problems being faced by the women and children in Harmonaya can be solved.