Skip to main content

Weight gain during pregnancy in rural India 7 kg as against 13-18 kg norm: Survey

By Our Representative
About half of rural women in India eat less than usual during pregnancy, leading to very small weight gain, on an average just about seven kg in the six states surveyed, compared with a norm of 13-18 kg for women with low body mass index (BMI). The worst is Uttar Pradesh, where the weight gain was found to be just four kg, says the Jaccha-Baccha (Mother-Child) Survey 2019, released in Delhi on Monday.
Conducted in June 2019 in six states, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, in 10 to 12 randomly-selected anganwadis spread over two blocks in one district in each state, in all 342 pregnant and 364 nursing women (those who delivered a baby during the six months preceding the survey) the report finds that women are “shockingly vulnerable”.
Thus, while 26% women were unable to read or write, their average age at marriage was 19 years, just about 61% households had a toilet, 49% were found to be eating less during pregnancy, 22% women would eat were eating nutritious food every day during pregnancy, 30% women felt they did not get enough rest during pregnancy, 34% women said they faced problems during pregnancy due to lack of money, and 30% households borrowed or sold assets to meet delivery expenses.
Coordinated by well-known development economists Jean Drèze, Reetika Khera and Anmol Somanchi, the survey report said, “Little attention was paid to the special needs of pregnancy – good food, extra rest and health care.” Worse, it added, “Often, family members or even women themselves had little awareness of these special needs.”
“For instance”, the report said, “48% of pregnant women and 39% of nursing women in UP had no idea whether or not they had gained weight during pregnancy. Similarly, there was little awareness of the need for extra rest during and after pregnancy.”
The report stated, “The main reason for not eating more is that many pregnant women feel unwell or lose appetite. The proportion of nursing women who reported eating nutritious food (e.g. eggs, fish, milk) ‘regularly’ during pregnancy was less than half in the sample as a whole, and just 12% in UP.” The result was, “Some women were so light to start with that they weighed less than 40 kg at the end of their pregnancy”.
Calling rest an “unmet need of pregnant women”, the report said, “Almost all the respondents had done household work regularly during their last pregnancy. A significant minority (21%) of nursing women said that no-one (not even a grown-up child) was available to help them with household work during pregnancy. Almost two thirds (63%) said that they had been working right until the day of delivery.”
It continued, “Due to lack of food and rest, most of the respondents had felt tired or exhausted during pregnancy. As many as 49% reported at least one symptom of weakness, such as swelling of feet (41%), impairment of daylight vision (17%) or convulsions (9%).”
Pointing out that “pregnant and nursing women are acutely deprived of quality health care”, the report said, “Many of them receive some basic services (e.g. tetanus injections and iron tablets) at the local anganwadi or health centre, but they get very little beyond the basics. Small ailments easily become a major burden, in terms of pain or expenses or both.” As a result, “at the time of delivery, women are often sent to private hospitals.”
Asserting that “institutional deliveries are supposed to be available free of cost to all women in public health centres”, the report regretted, “In practice, we found that nursing women had spent close to Rs 6,500, on average, on their last delivery. This amounts to more than a month’s wages for a casual labourer, in the survey areas.”
Pointing out that under the National Food Security Act 2013 (NFSA), all pregnant women are entitled to maternity benefits of Rs 6,000, unless they already receive benefits as formal-sector employees, something that the Government of India “ignored this for more than three years, before launching the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) in 2017”, the report said, “In flagrant violation of the Act, PMMVY restricts benefits to one child per woman – the first living child.”
Institutional deliveries are supposed to be available free of cost. In practice, women spent close to Rs 6,500,  more than a month’s wage of a casual labourer
Additionally, the report said, “Benefits have been arbitrarily reduced from Rs 6,000 to Rs 5,000 per child. Even these meagre benefits are elusive. Among nursing women eligible for PMMVY, only 39% had received the first instalment. The government’s own data show that PMMVY covers less than one fourth of all births as things stand.”
Even to receive this benefit, which is given in three installments, the report complains, the applicants must fill up a long, cumbersome form ahead of each instalment, it said. Worse, “They also have to produce their ‘mother-child protection card, Aadhaar card, husband’s Aadhaar card, and bank passbook, aside from linking their bank account with Aadhaar.”

“Further, they depend on the goodwill of the Anganwadi worker and CDPO to ensure that the application is filed on-line. This entire process is challenging, especially for women with little education”, the report said, adding, “On-line applications are often rejected, delayed, or returned with error messages for a series of reasons that are familiar from studies of Aadhaar-enabled payments of welfare benefits in other contexts (e.g. pensions and NREGA).”
Quoting anganwadi workers (AWWs), who take care of application formalities on behalf of the women, the report said, “One third of AWWs reported general Aadhaar-related issues, and 15% reported bank-related issues.” Young women in their sasural, either carrying a baby or nursing an infant, who are in need of rest, “they are constrained to spend time and money on fixing errors that have crept in for no fault of their own – with no guarantee that the issues will be resolved.”
The report said, “Some women had to pay anything between Rs 50-200 to enrol for Aadhaar. When Sushman Devi (from Sonebhadhra, UP) was trying to make corrections in her Aadhaar records, local officials kept delaying the matter. Ultimately she had to borrow money to go to the Block headquarters to get the corrections made. She borrowed Rs 2,000 from her sister to get corrections made to her and her husband’s Aadhaar card.”
PMMVY benefits (except in Odisha) require identification documents of the husband, the report noted, adding, “There were cases where women had not been able to apply, or the application had been delayed, because of failure to produce the husband’s Aadhaar card. Some husbands did not have Aadhaar cards, some women were living with men to whom they were not married, or were single mothers.”
Further: “There were several cases where applications had been delayed or stalled because Aadhaar cards with the father’s name or address were not accepted.” Thus, “Pooja is from Uttar Pradesh and married to someone in Surguja, but she had no way of providing a proof of address for her new address. The Aadhaar enrolment centre advised her to get a certificate from the sarpanch. It was rejected.”
Revealing that “demographic data glitches (e.g. typos in Aadhaar number, misspelling of names, wrong date of birth on Aadhaar, mismatch between Aadhaar card and other records, etc.)” also lead to the PMMVY application getting rejected or delayed”, the report cited several instances in this report.
Thus, “In Odisha, Rani Gope had to get multiple corrections made to her date of birth; Hulari Munda has three IDs each of which shows a different date of birth. Marcilin Munda’s Aadhaar card overstates her age by 10 years (1980 instead of 1990).” All these errors “crept in for no fault of the women who were applying for PMMVY, but they are paying the price for it.”

Comments

TRENDING

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

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".

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

2002 riots: Gujarat assembly 'misinformed' about dereliction of duty, says ex-DGP

By Rajiv Shah  Former Gujarat topcop RB Sreekumar, an IPS officer of the 1971 batch, has alleged that the Gujarat government gave “totally false information” on the floor of the State Assembly regarding the appeal he made to the Gujarat governor for the “initiation of departmental action against those responsible for culpable negligence in maintenance of public order and investigation of genocidal crimes” during the 2002 riots.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

'Devastating impact': Rural workers suffer as Govt of India NREGA budget down by 34%

Counterview Desk  A civil rights group, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj stating that 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 has added to woes on India’s rural population, already suffering from “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Catholic women warn: Kerala Bishop turning Church into puppet in political games

Counterview Desk A group of Catholic women under the banner Concerned Catholic Women of India has said that they are deeply concerned over "a bishop’s controversial statement" which may threaten communal harmony in India. As many as 89 Catholic women from across India have urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and its Kerala unit to take special steps to "foster peace and avoid strife."

Odisha bauxite mining project to 'devastate' life of 2,500 Adivasi, Dalit farmers: NAPM

Counterview Desk  While the public hearing on mining in Mali hills has been cancelled due to protests by Adivasi and Dalit farmers of the Mali Parbat Surakhya Samiti, Odisha, who have been protesting against the proposed bauxite mining project, India’s top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said it is “deeply concerned” at the decision of the Government of Odisha to push the project in a Schedule-V Adivasi-belt Koraput district against the interests of the people and environment.