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Table of Content

  • GS - 2 Governance
    • Maternity benefits to adoptive mothers: What the law says, why it is facing a challenge in SC
  • Fact File
  • Amit Shah launches Vibrant Villages Programme in Arunachal: What is this scheme
  • Jallianwala Bagh massacre: What happened to General Dyer after he ordered firing on Indians?

Maternity benefits to adoptive mothers: What the law says, why it is facing a challenge in SC

GS-2:Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.


Recently, the Supreme Court granted permission to hear a petition that questions the constitutionality of Section 5(4) of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. This section provides 12 weeks of maternity leave to women who legally adopt a child below three months old


HamsaanandiniNanduri from Karnataka filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the Act's Section 5(4) for being discriminatory and arbitrary towards adoptive mothers and orphaned children over three months.


Challenge to Section 5(4) of Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

  • The 1961 Actdid not include provisions for mothers who adopt.
  • In 2017, the Act was amended to include Section 5(4), which grants 12 weeks of maternity leave to a woman who legally adopts a child below three months old or a commissioning mother (a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in any other woman).
  • A woman adopting a child over three months old is not entitled to any benefits under this provision.
  • A PIL has been filed challenging Section 5(4) of the Act on the grounds of discrimination against adoptive mothers and orphaned, abandoned, or surrendered children over three months old.
  • The petition argues that the provision is incompatible with the object of the Maternity Benefit Act and the Juvenile Justice Act.
  • The petition also contends that the 12 weeks’ benefit for adoptive mothers is insufficient compared to the 26 weeks’ benefit for biological mothers and fails to stand the scrutiny of Part III of the Constitution, which is linked to the concept of non-arbitrariness.


The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

  • The Maternity Benefit Act was passed by Parliament on December 12, 1961, to regulate the employment of women in certain establishments before and after childbirth.
  • The Act initially applied to factories, mines, and plantations, and was later extended to government establishments and establishments where people were employed for performances.
  • The Act repealed the Mines Maternity Benefit Act, 1941, and Maternity Benefit Act, 1929.
  • Section 4 of the 1961 Act prohibited the employment of women for six weeks immediately following their deliveryor miscarriage.
  • Section 5 of the Act provided for paid maternity leave, with a maximum of 12 weeks, including six weeks before and six weeks after delivery.
  • To avail maternity benefits, a woman must have worked for at least 160 days in the 12 months before her expected delivery.
  • Female workers cannot be dismissed from their jobs or have their wages reduced while availing of maternity benefits.
  • Violating the Act could result in three months’ punishment with or without a fine.


The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017

  • On March 9, 2017, the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act 2017 was passed, which brought about key changes to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.
  • The Amendment Act extended the paid leave after childbirth to 26 weeks, but only for biological mothers.
  • It also added Section 5(4) to grant a 12-week maternity benefit period to adoptive or surrogate mothers who legally adopt a child below three months old.
  • The amended Act introduced provisions under Section 5(5) to allow women to work from home if the nature of their work allows it.
  • Section 11 was also inserted, which mandates establishments with fifty or more employees to have a creche facility within a prescribed distance, and allow the woman four visits a day to the creche and rest intervals.


Limitations and Challenges Faced by Women in Unorganised Sectors

  • Women working in the unorganised sector are not eligible for the benefits provided by the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.
  • A 2020 report by TeamLease, a human resource company, revealed that even after three years of the amendment Act being passed, it had not resulted in a positive impact on job opportunities for women.
  • The report also found that women's participation had declined in more than 5 out of 10 sectors since the implementation of the Act.
  • According to the report, 7 out of the 10 sectors reviewed were expected to show positive momentum in women's workforce participation in the medium term, owing to the Act. However, 5 of the 10 sectors have experienced a drop in the share of women in their workforce.
  • Women face various challenges after maternity, with the majority (30%) citing wage cuts, followed by resistance or lack of support from family (25%) and access to childcare (20%), according to the report.


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Fact File

Amit Shah launches Vibrant Villages Programme in Arunachal: What is this scheme

  • During his recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh, Union Home Minister Amit Shah launched the 'Vibrant Villages Programme' (VVP) in the border village of Kibithoo.

The ‘Vibrant Villages Programme’

  • The Union government has approved the Centrally Sponsored Scheme called the "Vibrant Villages Programme" (VVP) for the Financial Years 2022-23 to 2025-26 with a financial allocation of Rs. 4800 Crore.
  • The program aims to comprehensively develop villages of blocks on the northern border, improving the quality of life for people living in identified border villages, encouraging people to stay in their native locations in border areas and reversing the outmigration from these villages, which would add to improved border security.
  • The scheme will provide funds for the development of essential infrastructure and creation of livelihoodopportunities in 19 districts and 46 border blocks in four states and one UT along the northern land border of the country, helping in achieving inclusive growth and retaining the population in the border areas. 
  • In the first phase, 663 villages will be taken up in the program.
  • The scheme aims to identify and develop economic drivers based on local natural humanand other resources of the border villages on the northern border and development of growth centers on a "Hub and Spoke Model" through promotion of social entrepreneurship, empowerment of youth and women through skill developmentand entrepreneurship, leveraging the tourism potential through promotion of local cultural, traditional knowledge and heritage, and development of sustainable eco-agribusinesses on the concept of "One village-One product" through community-based organizations, cooperatives, SHGs, NGOs, etc.
  • Vibrant Village Action Plans will be created by the district administration with the help of Gram Panchayats to ensure 100% saturation of Central and state schemes.
  • The key outcomes that have been attempted are connectivity with all-weather roads, drinking water, 24x7 electricity – with a focus on solar and wind energy, mobile and internet connectivity, tourist centers, multi-purpose centers, and health and wellness centers.
  • There will be no overlap with the Border Area Development Programme, and out of the financial allocation of Rs. 4800 Crore, 2500 crore rupees will be used for roads.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre: What happened to General Dyer after he ordered firing on Indians? 

  • The Jallianwala Bagh massacre on April 13, 1919, was intended to be a protest meeting of Indians in a walled compound in Amritsar, Punjab, which was under British colonial rule. However, the event resulted in a brutal act of violence that remains as one of the most enduring memories of the cruelty of colonialism.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre

  • April 13 marked the Sikh festival of Baisakhi and a gathering was held at Jallianwala Bagh in defiance of colonial orders and to protest the Rowlatt Bills.
  • The Rowlatt Bills curtailed civil liberties and allowed for arbitrary arrests without trial.
  • Col. Dyer was sent to Amritsar to impose martial rule, and on April 13, he and his troops entered Jallianwala Bagh, where around 10,000 to 12,000 people had gathered.
  • Without warning, Dyer ordered his troops to fire, and they shot 1,650 rounds into the crowd for about 10 minutes.
  • The Hunter Committee of 1920 investigated Dyer's actions, and a later investigation showed that 379 people were killed and many were wounded.
  • Indian leaders, including Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore, expressed their anger and protested in response to the killings.


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