- Aditi Priya, a student of Delhi School of Economics talks about her study on the financial and physical hardships experienced by the respondents during pregnancy and delivery and also the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
- About Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
- PMMVY is a Maternity Benefit Programme that is implemented in all the districts of the country in accordance with the provision of the National Food Security Act, 2013.
- Target beneficiaries of the programme include all Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM), excluding PW&LM who are in regular employment with the Central Government or the State Governments or PSUs or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.
- The objectives of the scheme are
(i) providing partial compensation for the wage loss in terms of cash incentives so that the woman can take adequate rest before and after delivery of the first living child; and
(ii)the cash incentives provided would lead to improved health seeking behaviour amongst the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM)
- Benefits under PMMVY include cash incentive of Rs 5000 in three instalments. The eligible beneficiaries would receive the incentive given under the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) for Institutional delivery and the incentive received under JSY would be accounted towards maternity benefits so that on an average a woman gets Rs 6000.
- A beneficiary is eligible to receive benefits under the scheme only once. In case of miscarriage/still birth, the beneficiary would be eligible to claim the remaining instalment(s) in event of any future pregnancy.
- Issues/challenges with PMMVY
- Few provisions are in contrary to National Food Security Act (NFSA) of 2013
- Under NFSA, every pregnant woman is entitled to maternity benefits of ₹6,000 but under PMMVY the benefits have been reduced from ₹6,000 to ₹5,000 per child.
- Benefits are restricted to the first living child
- restricted to women above the age of 18 years.
- It excludes more than half of all pregnancies because first-order births account for only 43% of all births in India.
- The application process to get the benefits 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.
- PMMVY provides little assistance to women who lose their baby, because the successive payments are made only if the corresponding conditionalities are met.
- Author in her study found that on an average a pregnant lady spent ₹8,272 on their deliveries alone. So, the PMMVY is of little help to meet the nutritional requirement and wage loss of pregnant women.
- She finds that families have to borrow money to meet the expenses or to sell assets or migrate to cover these costs.
- Author suggests that there is an urgent need for better implementation as well as for compliance of the scheme with the NFSA. Maternity benefits should be raised to ₹6,000 per child at least, for all pregnancies and not just the first living child.