Field Notes: An Anganwadi Worker’s Daily Struggle To Provide Eggs


“I don’t know whom to talk to about my situation and problems.”

Maya (name changed on request), a worker at a government creche or anganwadi, dissolved into tears as she spoke to me in the quaintly named village of Bedukpada or frog colony, four hours north of Mumbai. 

“I have been working for almost 20 years, and things are just getting worse,” said Maya, a spare woman in her 50s, dressed neatly in a saree.”

Maya is one of the 1.3 million anganwadi workers in India, integral in ensuring government policies to combat child hunger and malnutrition run smoothly. One such programme is providing hot cooked meals, as part of supplementary nutrition. In Maharashtra’s Mokhada taluka, where Maya works, the government gives young children and pregnant women four eggs a week.

Yet, Maya ends up paying for some of those eggs from her own limited salary.

For each egg that costs Rs 7, the government gives Maya Rs 5. For the 35 children and pregnant women in her village, Maya has to spend over Rs 1,000 every month for the eggs. This is about a tenth of her Rs 10,000 monthly honorarium. 

“People know what they are entitled to and they demand eggs,” said Maya, “So I have no option but to give.”

The payments are almost always delayed, she said. “Sometimes it comes in a couple of months, sometimes it takes longer,” said Maya, “If the shopkeeper is kind, he will let me pay whenever I get the money, but if not, I have to find a way to pay for it.”

Every time Maya has to buy eggs, she must travel to the town of Mokhada, 10 km from Bedukpada. “I am disabled, so I have to take my husband’s help to go on a Scooty (a scooter),” said Maya, who has locomotor disability and needs a wooden stick to walk. “In addition to all the costs, we have to pay extra for the petrol also.” 

Maya’s honorarium is the only regular source of income for her family of two. Her husband is a farmer. “During the season, he grows rice on our farm and also goes to work in other people’s farms,” said Maya, “We make do with my income and with whatever he earns.”

“I do this because I have no other option,” said Maya, “There are no income opportunities.” Anganwadi workers in Maharashtra held a 46-day long protest up to 29 January 2024, demanding a livable wage and recognition as government employees.

“I also wanted to go to the protest but could not because of my disability,” said Maya. “But I protested.” She showed me how: she had not filled data of children and pregnant women in a register, as she was supposed to.

After speaking for 20 minutes, I asked her if I could take her photo.

“Please don’t,” said Maya. “And don’t mention my name. What if the government sees that I have complained and takes away the little money I get? I cannot afford to lose this.”

Read Shreya Raman’s full story here.

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