The Delhi government has decided to provide smartphones to more than 10,000 Anganwaadi workers employed in the capital city. This move will enable them to have enhanced control over the Anganwaadi centres by real-time monitoring and enabling Aadhaar-based registration of people employed in them, said senior Delhi government officials on Tuesday.

“The chief minister will distribute smartphones among Anganwadi workers on Wednesday,” the official said, adding that the project will be executed with a cost of Rs 11 crore.

Since the initiative falls under the Central government’s POSHAN Abhiyan scheme, launched last year, it will incur 50% of the expenditure of the move, senior officials added. Delhi government has a total of 10,752 Anganwadi centres so the government has planned to provide one smartphone at every centre for better management as currently, they have to maintain a total of 18 registers including attendance.

“The Delhi government will ensure that at least one Anganwadi worker in each of 10,752 Anganwadi centres gets smartphones,” a senior official in the chief minister’s office said. These phones will have installed applications for recording attendance, opening and closing time of the Anganwadi centres. It will enable real-time monitoring of the centres by allowing sharing daily photographs of the children being served food in the children, register time of serving food etc. It will also “carry out household-wise, name-based, Aadhaar-linked registration” of all members employed in the Anganwadi centres.

These Anganwadi centres function under the central government’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme. They benefit more than 1,13,000 children and around 4,37,000 pregnant and lactating women. Every Anganwadi centre is managed by one registered Anganwadi worker usually assisted by one to three other workers depending on the size of the centre. They are entrusted with meeting nutrition needs, pre-school education, vaccinations and primary healthcare to children between seven months six years age, pregnant women and lactating women.

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“The Delhi government will ensure that at least one Anganwadi worker in each of 10,752 Anganwadi centres gets smartphones,” a senior official in the chief minister’s office said.

A scheme launched in 1975 to tackle the issue of malnourishment, undernourishment, and anaemia amongst women and children in India, ICDS provides childhood care and development and Delhi as a state has adopted it. Anganwadi centres in around 10 states have gone digital by turning to smartphones and mobile application under the central government’s POSHAN scheme.

Anganwadi workers across the country have been fighting for their rights and rightful wages for a few years now. Last year when PM Narendra Modi had announced a wage increment to ASHA and Anganwadi workers, they rejected PM’s honorarium and instead demanded to be made permanent workers. “For years we have been demanding that Anganwadi workers be made permanent and be given minimum wage…We reject this hike,” said Union president Shivani Kaul. On the other hand, worker Anju also counted the several challenges Anganwadi workers are forced to face in order to do their job properly. “We have found shards of glass, gravel in food… The quality is so poor that we have to throw a lot of it,” she said. Kaul alleged, “At least five-six have been blacklisted from providing mid-day meals to government schools.”

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