Tuesday, October 30, 2012

PAUPER’S LOG: Durbar and Durbaries

Durbar and Durbaries
By Abu Arsh

In a recent press release the Administration has posted a picture of the Administrator conducting his weekly Durbar with five Anganwadi workers all clad in pink sarees. A mix of elderly and young ladies was all shown as standing in the picture with the Lt. Governor and his Secretary seated. The Lt. Governor, A & N Islands had accorded sanction for revision of Supplementary Nutrition Programme from Rs. 5 per day to Rs. 8.50 per day for normal children and adolescent girls and from Rs. 6 per day to Rs. 10 Per day for pregnant and lactating mothers. Similarly, for severely malnourished children from Rs. 8 per day to Rs. 13.50 per day under Integrated Child Development Services programme with immediate effect for providing supplementary nutrition. The Anganwadi workers are paid a monthly honorarium of Rs 4000/- and upon hearing the above news went ahead with the request for increase of Rs 1000/- in their honorariums too as subjects in the durbar of the Raj Niwas. On this day and age a payment of Rs 5000/- for meeting one's basic requirement is asking for too much. The Lt. Governor had given them a patient hearing about considering a hike in their honorariums but his secretariat failed to offer them a seat to sit in the durbar as is suggested in the released photograph.
The Anganwadi System under ICDS is a Government of India sponsored programme, which is India's primary social welfare scheme to tackle malnutrition and health problems in children below 6 years of age and their mothers. The main beneficiaries of the programme are aimed to be the girl child up to her adolescence, all children below 6 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers. The gender promotion of the girl child by trying to bring her at par with the male child is a key component of the scheme. With the advent of Development agencies making a beeline for the Islands post tsunami of 2004, it was these very services which attracted a majority of the NGO's to pour in their interventions. Over the years it has grown into one of the largest integrated family and community welfare schemes in the world.
Our islands have over 604 Anganwadi Centres spread across the length and breadth of it with equal no of Anganwadi workers and helpers. These ladies serve as a key link between the community and the Social Welfare and Health Departments. These ladies also embark upon various surveys for the National Rural Health Mission from time to time. For the Social Welfare department for children upto six years the programme offers six packages including Supplementary nutrition, Immunization, Referral services, Non-formal pre education, Health checkups and Health and Nutrition Education for Children. Under Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for empowerment of Girl Child as SABLA supplementary nutrition is provided to adolescent girl child of 14-18 years and for 11- 14 years drop out girls are also enrolled. Pregnant and Nursing mothers are also cared for under Indira Gandhi Maitrik Sanjog Yojana where in Rs 4000 assistance is given to mothers in three installments in their bank accounts. Anganwadi workers deliver services to these mothers by maintaining their pregnancy cards, immunization schedules and nutritional requirements. Delivery of services under ICDS scheme is managed in an integrated manner through Anganwadi centre by these Anganwadi workers.
Going through the services these Anganwadi workers offer to the community it would have been minimum courtesy on the part of the Lt. Governor's secretariat to atleast release a photograph (irrespective of what happened at the Durbar; whether these ladies were offered seats or not ) depicting them in a more respectable vein for the place they deserve in the society. This would have given these ladies the encouragement and the desire to offer selfless service to the society in strengthening our National Policy for Children. Our Administration boosts of innumerable babus glued to their chairs by virtue of their incompetence and great degree of yesmanship towards their bosses. On and off meetings of the common Islanders with the Lt. Governor would have been coined by one of these Babu's as weekly Durbar. Durbar in this day and age sounds medieval, feudal and smells of our colonial mindset hangover. These Durbars here takes place as per the convenience of the bosses and its frequency is anybody's guess. Calling on the Administrator is no easy task as the famous reply to audience seekers or the subjects is to meet the concerned Babu than meeting the Raj Niwas' most important occupant. The ambience around the majestic Durbar is intimidating to the common man with high security, innumerable hassles, busy for nothing staff jostling each other, polished padauk furniture (would lose its sheen if touched) and the uncertain wait till the Raj Niwas' most important occupant surfaces. Nobody would ask the common subjects to have a seat and if the Durbaries don't offer you one be content to quickly put across your plea and vanish. So much so, for power to the people.  

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