SECURING A BETTER TOMORROW
Union Minister of Women & Child Development Maneka Sanjay Gandhi speaks to Tania Ameer about the ministry’s vision, its exemplary initiatives and achievements
How has your experience been in the ministry?
It is a challenging ministry to handle because it had no preset parameters when I joined and therefore nobody had done any notable work in it for a long time. Basically this was a ministry which existed only to give salary to women anganwadi workers. We then had to map out what it is that this ministry had to do to change India which is the core purpose of a ministry. We are making incremental changes on everything ranging from small to big - in every conceivable area that we can bring about a change for the betterment of women and children.
What are the new initiatives taken up by your ministry in this government?
We try very hard in the ministry to make things happen. We work relentlessly on clearing files, removing the fake applications etc. We were the first to take up the Juvenile Justice Act and work on it.
What have been your achievements in the ministry till date?
There are various issues on which the ministry is keenly working on. One issue I have talked about is the JJ Act, the other one is adoption, as well as relevant issues like-skill development, nutrition, crime against women, safety and security of women, one stop crisis centres and various other pertinent problems.
Tell us about the ministry’s initiative to deal with malnutrition among children and women? Also tell us about the ministry’s initiative regarding anganwadi centres?
Nutrition is one big focus area for the ministry. It ties up with the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme and many more factors come into play. We invented the concept of anganwadis and around 24 lakh workers across India get a basic pay of Rs 3000 plus the state gives them more. The amount given to them at each state level varies; for example Uttar Pradesh gives them Rs 200 per month while Goa gives them Rs 12000. It is highly uneven. Their job is to look after pregnant women and children from the time they are born to three years of age. Till now they have never been trained and there has been no supervision over them, so the standard has really suffered when it comes to food and child care. This has resulted in creating high malnutrition levels - which is currently 47 per cent in India - which is very dangerous as it causes an impaired brain. We are retraining these workers and
also working on substantial food reforms.
How is the ministry addressing the issue of missing children in the country?
In an effort to locate missing children in the country, the Ministry of Women and Child Development signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Railways in May this year and also launched a web portal –khoyapaya - for the same. The MOU with the Ministry of Railways was signed on May 19 this year and the focus is to enhance association and co-operation in the implementation of jointly prepared Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and to ensure the care, protection, security, well-being of run-away, unaccompanied and trafficked children who come in contact with the railways. T he Ministry of Women and Child Development, with the assistance form Department of Electronics and Information Technology, has also launched a web portal Khoya-paya on June 2 this year for reporting and searching of missing children.
Union Minister of Women & Child Development Maneka Sanjay Gandhi