The Case of the Anganwadi Supervisors

The Anganwadi Supervisor is supposed to inspect the Anganwadi Centres in a particular sector and see that they are functioning properly and the ICDS Scheme is being implemented in letter and spirit. But several of these workers are suffering due to lack of any knowledge regarding the policies of the Government, a lack of proper training, so as to be able to understand the problems arising in the implementation of the schemes or gather expertise during field work, and an inability to conduct informed meetings for ensuring proper implementation of the schemes; hence the volunteers develop an ‘employee mentality’, i.e. they mechanically keep working without applying their minds. They are also at a loss regarding changes required for making the scheme successful, because they are not involved in the process of designing any of the schemes.

Also, there is no provision for periodical assessment of the problems being faced during implementation of schemes; on the other hand the officials have hardly any experience of the problems being encountered during field work, and hence, are unable to give positive inputs.
The Anganwadi Supervisors are made to work in trying conditions and they suffer both due to being responsible for inspection and monitoring of the AWCs, as well as on account of being women. Being Supervisors, they are supposed to have departmental system of transport, which is never available. According to norms, a Supervisor has to be in charge of 25 Centres, but due to lack of appointments, they have to visit 50-60 Centres. After covering them, they are supposed to submit a report at the Project Office, which is around 15-30 kilometres away from the area of work. In tribal areas, no transport is available, due to which the women workers have to go on foot. Many times, untoward incidents occur, or males accompanying them try to take advantage
of their vulnerable condition; but the requests of the workers for proper transport fall on deaf ears. They are not even provided with two-wheelers and cannot demand transport costs. When a CDPO has to mobilise Supervisors, and if he/she has no means of transport at his/her disposal, work suffers. The Anganwadi Centres remain neglected and are managed in the most callous manner.
Anganwadi workers have often complained that the procedure of their appointment is not transparent; hence there is a demand for peoples’ intervention in the entire process from their side. For example, it is extremely difficult to get some of the workers to perform their duties, since their appointments are political.They are wives or daughters of powerful Block Pramukhs
and Gram Pradhans, who do not allow them to work outside their homes even if they want to. But the Supervisors and other officials cannot take them to task for fear of their powerful political links. This issue had been taken up with the P.M. by Smt. Chandresh Kumari, M.P., Jodhpur. But so far, there is no solution in sight.
According to the Government’s guidelines, every Anganwadi Supervisor has to be
accompanied by an Anganwadi worker, so that the process of inspection of Centres and reporting
to the Anganwadi Offices becomes easy. But this is rarely observed. The leaders of the Anganwadi Supervisors Association say that the Supervisors are the backbone of the ICDS. But they have to perform tasks which are not allocated to them as per the manual, for example, opening the Centre, doing clerical work of keeping records etc., doing the work allotted to the CDPO, maintaining the store, doing pulse polio and other vaccination work, doing election related work, distributing rations, doing the work of Block Level Officers, doing Widow and Old age Pension related work. Thus, their own responsibilities take a back seat.This has led to Supervisors getting discredited, so that departmental action has been initiated against them in several instances. Gender disparity also exists in terms of honorarium and facilities as well as transport allowance.The clerks, CDPOs and DPOs as well as peons take their T.A. and D.A. but the Anganwadi supervisors, who are basically field workers have to spend from their honorarium for going to different anganwadi centres.
Then, there are many Anganwadi workers who have been promoted to Anganwadi Supervisors
but actually are not educated enough to qualify for the job. Some are old and infirm and some have chronic health problems, hence they are unable to do field-work. As a result, they begin to depend on male workers-peons, office clerks, drivers and officers, who find it quite convenient to exploit them economically or otherwise. This also leads to unsatisfactory performance and poor quality of work in ICDS. The younger worker-recruits who have been appointed in the 1985-87 batch are better educated and are able to give a much better performance. It would improve the quality of work considerably, if they were promoted to the post of Supervisors and the ICDS would immensely benefit from this.

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