After a 50 per cent hike in their salaries before the model code of conduct had set in, in poll-bound Gujarat, the accredited social health activists (ASHA) of the state will get a post-election gift too — saris or salwar kameez as uniform. According to the health department, this is for the first time the Gujarat government has decided on uniforms for the ASHA workers who have been protesting since Vibrant Gujarat Summit, held from January 10-13. They were offered a 50 per cent hike in salaries on October 24.
The officials of the health department said the ASHA workers will be given a choice between a sari or salwar kameez. The colour of the salwar kameez is similar to that of the sari, in beige and orange.
“The idea of the sari is to celebrate her dignity. We plan to give two saris or salwar kameez to each ASHA worker. A few weeks ago, we even got some of them wear the sari and walk the ramp. This is for the first time the ASHA workers (of Gujarat) will have a uniform. We have settled for synthetic material as it is not heavy. These women do a lot of field work and that is why they need lighter saris,” said Commissioner of Health Dr Jayanti Ravi.
The dress, which is being made by Surat-based company, Mafatlal, is likely to be distributed after the elections. Designed by K R Shrinivasa, head of fashion design department at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Gandhinagar, the sari is in beige with orange pallu and border.
“We started to work on it a year ago. We concentrated on the motifs and symbols and settled for traditional ones. It has a golden (read beige) base and geometric patterns in the pallu and blouse. We have super imposed a grey check pattern as well,” explained Shrinivasa who has also designed saris for the anganwadi workers of the state.
“We tried 10 to15 variations of designs before finalising this one. The idea was to make sure that the material is easy to manage and looks simple and classy. The health commissioner is closely involved with the project,” added Shrinivasa. Most the ASHA workers, however, are yet to know about the government’s decision. When The Indian Express asked a few activists, they expressed ignorance about the government’s decision of providing them uniforms after elections.