PM Modi announced the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana in December 2016, narrowing down the financial assistance of Rs 5,000 to the first birth only.
Activists point out that women in the formal sector are given six months paid leave under the new Maternity Benefits Act, while those in the informal sector struggle to get just Rs 5,000.
Conditionalities related to utilising health services do not make any sense in the absence of a service guarantee and only serve to blame the victims and not the system for its failures.
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The Rs 6,000 announced by the prime minister as universal maternity entitlements is already mandated under the National Food Security Act 2013, although the government has chosen not to implement it yet.
Universalising pensions and maternity benefits is a rare case of consensus between the government, economists favouring basic income and civil society groups.
The Supreme Court also issued notice to the Centre on the larger issue of non-implementation of the National Food Security Act.