Janani scheme raises misuse fears
IMAGINE MUNSHI Premchand?s world-famous story ?Kafan?. Pregnant Budhia is writhing in labour pain inside the hut while her husband Madhav and his father Ghisu are crouched over fried potatoes outside. Neither wants to go inside the hut to take care of Budhia lest the other should gobble up the potatoes. The inhuman dithering ends in Budhia?s death.india Updated: May 19, 2006 13:38 IST
IMAGINE MUNSHI Premchand’s world-famous story ‘Kafan’. Pregnant Budhia is writhing in labour pain inside the hut while her husband Madhav and his father Ghisu are crouched over fried potatoes outside. Neither wants to go inside the hut to take care of Budhia lest the other should gobble up the potatoes. The inhuman dithering ends in Budhia’s death.
Will the State Government’s Vijayaraje Janani Kalyan Bima Yojana bring about the macabre ‘Kafan’ scene in poor households instead of reducing the maternal mortality rate?
The scheme entitles family members of a woman living below poverty line, who dies either during institutional delivery or within 42 days of it due to delivery-related complications, to receive Rs 50,000 as insurance.
Several NGOs feel that the greed of Rs 50,000 might drive many poor people to do a Ghisu-Madhav act on hapless Budhias of the State. “In the present day when people do not hesitate in taking a life for Rs 50 only then Rs 50,000 is a huge sum to bring out the devil in someone”, points out All India Women’s Conference (AIWC) President Deepti Rani Acharya. She added there were 50-50 chances of the scheme being misused until it was properly monitored.
Echoing the same feelings, Reeta Tuli of AIWC states that almost all laws and schemes implemented in the past were being misused. “When even very serious and sensitive laws regarding rape were being misused, it is definite that this scheme would meet the same fate”, she emphasises.
“This scheme could be perilous, as it offers the easiest way for a person living in dire poverty to earn Rs 50,000”, Tuli maintained.
“The insurance money of Rs 50,000 would induce families living in abject poverty to deliberately kill the women during delivery”, say Janwadi Mahila Samiti’s Sandhya Shaili and Mina Sharma.
However, the State Government avers that adequate safeguards are in place against such possible barbarity. Health officials say certain medico-legal provisions are also there for anyone claiming benefit of the scheme.
“Any claim about death of a woman due to delivery-related complications would have to be confirmed through a postmortem”, Health Commissioner Ashok Kumar Barnwal told the Hindustan Times. He added postmortem had been made compulsory in order to check any misuse of the scheme.
But NGOs are apprehensive that given the horrible record of delivery-related deaths in the State, coupled with abject poverty, chances of deliberate negligence of family members leading to the mother’s death are quite high.
For example, many gas-affected women were driven out of the house and some even killed by family members for compensation money. In rural areas, many cases of false report of rape on Dalit women have been lodged by family members to grab the compensation money.
Health officials, meanwhile, counter these apprehensions saying an underlying feeling of humanity and mutual trust was the basic ingredient of the scheme. “If a husband or family members become so inhuman to deliberately cause a woman’s death for a mere Rs 50,000, then no insurance scheme could work”’, Barnwal lamented.