Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

[op-ed snap] Without maternity benefits


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre & States & the performance of these schemes

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)

Mains level: Hardships faced by women during and after pregnancy and need for better schemes


Maternity benefits under PMVVY

  1. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 31, 2016
  2. The scheme largely defeats the purpose it is supposed to serve: according to a recent analysis, it excludes more than half of all pregnancies because first-order births account for only 43% of all births in India
  3. Further, the PMMVY provides little assistance to women who lose their baby, because the successive payments are made only if the corresponding conditionalities are met

Problems in the scheme

  1. Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) of 2013, every pregnant woman is entitled to maternity benefits of ₹6,000, unless she is already receiving similar benefits as a government employee or under other laws
  2. PMVVY violates the NFSA in several ways
  3. First, the benefits have been reduced from ₹6,000 to ₹5,000 per child
  4. Second, they are now restricted to the first living child
  5. Third, they are further restricted to women above the age of 18 years
  6. The application process is cumbersome and exclusionary: a separate form has to be filled, signed and submitted for each of the three instalments, along with a copy of the applicant’s mother-child protection card, her Aadhaar card, her husband’s Aadhaar card, and the details of a bank account linked to her Aadhaar number
  7. The compulsory linking of the applicant’s bank account with Aadhaar often causes problems

Need of pregnant women

  1. The worst form of hardship reported by pregnant women is the inability to improve their nutritional intake or even to eat properly during pregnancy
  2. Women who were working for wages before pregnancy could not work during their pregnancy and earned zero wages
  3. Women need to spend money during delivery or pregnancy which they have to borrow
  4. It is common for the families of the respondents to sell assets or migrate to cover these costs
  5. The PMMVY could help protect poor families from these financial contingencies

Linking PMVVY with NFSA

  1. The provision for maternity entitlements in the NFSA is very important for women who are not employed in the formal sector
  2. The PMMVY, however, undermines this provision due to the dilution of the entitled amount and the exclusion criteria
  3. There is an urgent need for better implementation as well as for compliance of the scheme with the NFSA
  4. Maternity benefits should be raised to ₹6,000 per child at least, for all pregnancies and not just the first living child
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