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Anganwadi Workers In Maharashtra Win Protracted Battle For New Phones

By Outlook Planet Desk January 30, 2024

The move will help the workers enter data accurately on the Poshan App for real-time monitoring of maternal and child nutritional outcomes

Anganwadi Workers In Maharashtra Win Protracted Battle For New Phones
The Poshan app is updated regularly without considering the need for devices that support high-end technologies.
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The government has approved Rs. 154 crore to provide Anganwadi workers across Maharashtra with new mobile phones. The government action followed unrelenting protests from the workers who were given faulty mobile phones and were, therefore, forced to purchase phones to enter essential health data on the Poshan App.

As per the Maharashtra ICDS department, the Centre has sanctioned the supply of high-end Samsung Galaxy A05S smartphones to 1,14,974 Anganwadi workers. This move aims to obtain accurate data on the Poshan App, which is crucial for real-time monitoring of maternal and child nutritional outcomes.

The procurement process has been carried out through a tendering process. The previously procured Panasonic phones were out of warranty, and the procurement process was delayed further by the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, a few months ago, the Centre approved the tendering process, and the procurement of new Samsung phones for Anganwadi workers was sanctioned.

In 2021, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development launched the Poshan Tracker app to monitor the nutritional outcomes of children and mothers in India in real time. However, the Panasonic mobile phones provided by the Central Government in 2018 had low RAM and proved inadequate.

Many started malfunctioning, causing problems for the Anganwadi workers using the app. The 2GB RAM phones proved inadequate for the Poshan Tracker. To make things worse, the phones' warranty expired in March 2021. The Anganwadi workers were left financially burdened, as they had to pay for their repairs ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 from their meagre salaries.

Uploading photos slowed down the phones, impeding the crucial work of the Anganwadi workers responsible for entering child and maternal data. The honorarium of Anganwadi workers was tied to the data input on the app, leading some to purchase smartphones with their funds or even borrow money, fearing potential reprimands from the WCD.

In 2021, as a sign of protest, Anganwadi workers returned the defective mobiles and resorted to recording data in regular diaries. However, the state government issued notices for not uploading data on the app, risking funding cessation from the Centre. In response, Anganwadi Karamchari Sabha approached the Bombay High Court.

After years of waiting, the government has given the green light to Anganwadi workers. Kamal Parulekar, the secretary of the Anganwadi Sevika Union, said that the Indian government failed to provide basic mobile phones to the workers.

The Poshan app is updated regularly without considering the need for devices that support high-end technologies. The workers were not provided with internet expenses and had to pay from their pockets. They are hopeful that these issues will be resolved now.

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