Pregnant women in India are entitled to a much-needed aid of Rs 6,000 in installments prescribed by the government. However, only a few can avail this, reveals the Jaccha-Baccha Survey 2019.
The survey was run through 342 pregnant women and 364 nursing women in six states across Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh.
The study reveals many procedures designed to benefit pregnant women are actually a distant reality, more so for those in rural India. The procedure begins with filling out applications for each of the three instalments. Their combined length is 23-pages long.
The applicants also have to show their and their husband’s Aadhaar cards, which need to be linked to their banks, along with their bank passbooks.
They must also produce mother-child protection card, to maintain a record of immunisation schedule and vitamin doses in the first five years of a child.
Despite filling out these forms and submitting all this information, applications may get rejected, delayed, and often returned with error messages.
In 2010, the government of India launched the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) to provide for all pregnant and lactating women in the country. Beneficiaries could claim Rs 4000 at the time.
It was in 2013 when all Indian women became entitled to maternity benefits under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
Under the NFSA, the programme was named Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) scheme. While Modi had promised Rs 6000 in 2016, the study notes that it has ‘been arbitrarily reduced from Rs 6,000 to Rs 5,000.’
The researchers of the survey also highlighted that PMMVY scheme limits benefits to one child, violating provisions in the NFSA. The ‘first child rule’, which was drafted in August 2017, is also the reason that makes around 55 percent of pregnant women ineligible.
The underlying thought, however, is that what seems like a meagre amount to one can help another go a long way.