“There is nothing wrong in cooking inside a toilet”, that’s the controversial statement made by MP Woman and Child Development minister Imarti Devi on Tuesday. The statement was made after the uprising of controversial news that a toilet of an Anganwadi in Shivpuri was being used as a temporary kitchen. The officers of women and child development say that a self-help group took over the toilets to use it as a kitchen and action is being taken against Anganwadi supervisor.
But before the court proceedings could begin, the minister made a highly controversial statement giving rise to a wave of uproar against her. “You should understand that if a partition exists between a toilet and kitchen, there is nothing wrong in preparing food. These days, even in our homes we have attached bathrooms” said Imarti Devi.
Located 350 kilometers from Bhopal, the children of SilanagarPokhara village were fed with mid-day meals cooked in a toilet. The pictures were released showing the use of toilet seat to cook food which shocked people. More than 50 children of Anganwadi were fed with this food and the authorities came into action when the spot was visited by local reporters. The reporters found that the cooking equipment was placed on the toilet seat and the food was being cooked near it. The kitchen cum toilet had an LPG cylinder and earthen stove for cooking.
The Anganwadis, as a part of Integrated Child Development Services, which were started by the government in1975, had been trusted with the responsibility of rural childcare centers in various parts of India. The operational 13.3 lakh Anganwadi centers across the country provide basic health care facilities like nutrition education and supplementation, contraceptive counseling and supply as well as pre-school activities. It also acts as a depot for oral rehydration salts. Made to provide access to affordable healthcare facilities to the local population, the government was trying to bring back the balance between immense population growth and shortage of doctors. The Ministry of Women and Child Development was responsible for laying the guidelines for Anganwadi workers which included active participation and community support in successful implementation of the programme, organizing pre-school activities, motivating families to adopt family planning, conducting family surveys, assisting and executing the implementation of Kishori Shakti Yojana and identifying the disabilities in children.
The report got an opposed reaction. Where few people got a target to attack the minority sections, others attacked the minister’s comment saying “maybe this minister eat in the toilet, cook in the toilet and sleep in the toilet it seems”. On the other hand, public comments were also made against BJP saying there are the ‘Ache Din’ where BJP toilet water is used for washing in railways and cooking in trains.
The minister claimed“What if our relatives refuse to eat in our house saying that we have attached latrine-bathroom?” she needs to know the difference between having an attached toilet and cooking in one.
Are the intentions with which Anganwadis were made successful?