Tribal Anganwadi Workers Driven to Despair

Officials ignore Tribal Gram Sabhas in Jharkhand.

About The Video: On 18th December 2008, Bahamani Tuti was chosen by the Gram Sabha of Deyo Village, District Khunti, Jharkhand as the worker at the local Anganwadi center in the presence of an official from the Woman and Child Welfare Department.  She immediately started her work and waited for the official letter which would recognize her appointment. Her wait for the appointment letter lasted around 2 long years during which she remained unpaid for her services. 

Putting in time, money, effort and sheer will, Bahamani carried out the duties she was assigned to. On some instances, she voluntarily donated money that she had been saving for her own household to the upkeep of the Anganwadi. Sometimes, her own children would be neglected. She worked hard, with uncommon dedication and interest. She cared for a most vulnerable and otherwise ignored group – tribal woman and children. But even after two years of service, she did not see a single rupee. With increasing despair, she hoped that the letter would arrive. Finally, when she saw that her own young children and family were bearing the brunt of her persistence against the apathy of the officials, she decided to give in. She stopped her work at the Anganwadi. 

Currently, the resident cook Ms. Suchitra Tuti is managing the affairs of the Anganwadi all alone. She tries her best to keep things running smoothly but cannot prevent the quality of service from being affected. 

Community Correspondent Amita Tuti who made on the video on the escalating issues of the Deyo Anganwadi says that she and a group of women from the village have gone to visit the local Child Development Program Officer (CDPO). “He dismissed it as an old case,” says Amita. “He says that he cannot do much about it and directed us to approach the District Collector.” 

Community Correspondent Says: Amita thinks that the Anganwadi is one of the symptoms of the larger issues plaguing not only the village but tribal villages across Jharkhand. The officials tend to trivialize the decisions taken by the Gram Sabha grossly violating the sanctity of The Pachayat (Extension to Scheduled Area) Act, (PESA) 1996. The PESA was introduced to promote village level democracy and decision making. It had an emphasis on Tribals and aimed to introduce self-rule in marginalized regions. But Amita says that Gram Sabha decisions are not considered or entirely over-ruled by the administration. 

“You can introduce the Act, amend the constitution but can you change the feudal mentality that continues to exist?” says Amita. “The issue in my video may appear small but it also an issue of tribal identity and conflict. We are made to feel excluded and ‘small’. We’re made to feel second rate, uncared for and unwanted.” 

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PESA, 1996

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