Skip to main content

Universal maternity benefit: Govt of India allocates "fraction" of what is actually required, say experts, activists

By Our Representative
The Government of India's (GoI's) allocation of Rs 7,348 crore over the next three financial years as universal maternity entitlement has been termed as a “fraction of what is actually required”, even assuming the only two births are covered under the Maternity Benefit Programme (MBP), announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his new year speech.
Strongly objecting to the amount, officially declared by the Ministry of Women and Child Development on January 3, Jean Dreze, Belgian-born Indian development economist and activist who is known to be a top follower of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, has said that, at the current birth rate of 20 per 1,000 in India, and the GoI's allocation “doesn't add up.”
Says Dreze, who is visiting professor at Ranchi University, the current population is around 130 crore, so the number of births per year must be around 26 million. And, if India really wishes to implement the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, by providing Rs the benefit of Rs 6,000, allocation should be Rs 14,000 per year.
“At Rs 6,000 per birth, universal maternity entitlements (assuming, optimistically, that 10% births are already covered under the formal sector) would cost Rs 14,000 crore per year”, Dreze says.
“However”, he adds, in the plan officially released, “The Central government’s contribution for the next three financial years is only Rs 7,348 crore, or Rs 2,449 crore per year. With a 60:40 ratio for centre/state contributions, this means a total of barely Rs 4,000 crore per year.”
Dreze's objection comes close on the heels of analysts declaring (click HERE to read) that Modi’s claim of “new” maternity benefit scheme of Rs 6,000 to be transferred directly to the beneficiary was “misleading”.
“We fact-checked his claim, and found that the provision of Rs 6,000 to pregnant women already exists as part of the NFSA, 2013”, says an analysis, adding, “Therefore, his claim of the benefit being a new scheme is incorrect.”
Meanwhile, right to food activists have objected to the Ministry of Women and Child allocating only 60% per cent of the amount, leaving the rest to the states to allocate the remaining 40%.
Quoting official sources, Sejal Dand, founder-director, Area Networking and Development Initiatives (ANANDI), which has been working with rural poor women of Gujarat, says, earlier, only day to day implementation and administrative matters were to be be the responsibility of the state governments.
While starting implementation of the NFSA, 2013, a Women and Child Development letter to all state secretaries on November 13, 2013 said that the Act's provision was being extended from select 59 districts to all Indian districts, with the Centre contributing 75% and states 25%. However, on February 3, 2014, the Government of India turned it into a 100% Centrally-sponsored scheme.
Under the scheme, all pregnant women and lactating mothers, excluding the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers who are in regular employment with Central or State governments or Public Sector Undertakings, or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law are eligible for the cash benefit of Rs 6,000.

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.