Skip to main content

Restricting maternity benefit to first child, institutional births to hit marginalized women: Right to Food Campaign

By Our Representative
Top advocacy group, the Right to Food Campaign (RTFC), has expressed its “deep disappointment” over what it has called “truncated Maternity Benefits Programme (MBP) approved by the Union Cabinet recently, wondering why it is restricted to the first birth and institutional births alone.
Even as welcoming the Maternity Benefits Act (MBA) amendment, which had expanded the maternity leave from 17 weeks to 26 weeks, RTFC in a statement says, it covers “only about 18 lakh women in the organized sector whereas over 2.7 crore deliveries take place in India each year.”
Pointing out that the MBA “does not include in its ambit more than 95% of women in the country who are in the informal sector”, RTFC says, “When the requirement of six months of paid leave has been accepted for women in the formal sector (public and private), it is unacceptable that a wage compensation of less than half of minimum wages, that too only for one birth, should be the norm for the rest of the women.”
"A pregnant or lactating woman having her first child will get up to Rs 6,000. Out of this, Rs 5,000 will be given by the women and child development ministry in three installments," Union minister Piyush Goyal had said at a cabinet briefing on May 17.
Pointing out that there is nothing new in what the Union Cabinet has offered, RTFC said,
“Maternity benefit of at least Rs 6000 for all pregnant and lactating women (except those working in government/public sector undertakings) is a legal entitlement for almost four years now, guaranteed under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.”
Calling the Rs 6,000 maternity entitlements as “modest”, RTFC said, it is “barely equivalent to five weeks of minimum wages in Bihar, compared to the more than six months of paid leave offered in the formal sector.”
If earlier the maternal benefit as a pilot scheme was restricted to 53 districts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech on December 31, 2016 announced expansion of maternity benefits to all districts.
However, RTFC says, ever since “there have been indications that there will be a number of exclusions.”
Insisting that “there is no justification in restricting the scheme only the first birth, RTFC says, even the existing conditionalities attached for availing maternity benefits such as two child norm and age of marriage have been shown to be “fundamentally discriminatory to both women and children affecting the most marginalized and vulnerable women large from socially discriminated communities such as scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities, putting their lives to risk.”
“In the process of universalisation rather than withdrawing all conditionalities from IGMSY, the new scheme makes it even more restrictive”, it underlines.
Calling another conditionality of linking maternity benefit to institutional delivery equally restrictive, RTFC regrets, it has been “merged with the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)”, an older scheme that was started with an entirely different purpose which was to incentivize institutional deliveries.
“Maternity benefit is intended to provide wage compensation”, it said, adding, “Based on data from the latest National Family Health Survey, 21% of children born at home are already ineligible for JSY.”

Comments

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

How green revolution led to 'deterioration' of Punjab economy, land, air and water

By Dr Gian Singh*  A recent research paper, based on a survey of 320 farming families in four districts of Punjab, has tried to show that high crop densities and the use of inputs have led to degradation of land, air, water and humans through a rich agricultural structure. Although mechanization has increased agricultural productivity, it has also caused environmental degradation.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Abysmal deficit of water, food waste recycle treatment 'impacting' Chennai life

By Simi Mehta*  We are living in a state where the most basic needs like food and water are not assured to the people residing in the urban areas, which account for the biggest sources of food and water wastage. Socio-economic inequality in society which is pervasive in urban areas is one of the main reasons for this.