To jolt me out of a stupor…

…it takes something like this. Just in case you aren’t the link-clicking type, this is what ‘Justice’s Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia of the Supreme Court of India have to say about the Janani Suraksha Yojana:

You cannot go on producing children and then make the taxpayer pay for it. We have to have some curb on population also

And in case you are wondering what the JSY is, this is what the ‘Guidelines for Implementation’ say:

 Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) under the overall umbrella of National
Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is being proposed by way of modifying the
existing National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS). While NMBS is linked
to provision of better diet for pregnant women from BPL families, JSY
integrates the cash assistance with antenatal care during the pregnancy
period, institutional care during delivery and immediate post-partum
period in a health centre by establishing a system of coordinated care by
field level health worker. The JSY would be a 100% centrally sponsored
scheme.

So, what is this all about? This was the most detailed report I could find so far, and I’ll summarise again: there was once a scheme called the National Maternity Benefit Scheme, which provided that pregnant women above the age of 19, who lived ‘below the poverty line’ (BPL), for their first two pregnancies, could enrol with their local primary health centres for free maternal healthcare, and were given certain benefits to facilitate their better nutrition. This scheme was replaced by the JSY, which was more ambitious, but as badly inplemented, apparently, as the earlier one. (Didn’t I mention it was badly implemented? Well, it is the default state for government welfare schemes, after all) So there is a petition before the court, asking it to direct better implementation. The Government submits that the scheme has been modified to make its benefits available to all BPL women, not just those below 19, or just those having less than two kids.

And the hon’ble Supreme Court, reserving the order on the petition, sees fit to remark that providing healthcare to poor young women ought to be conditional on their observing State-recommended family planning norms. Because, of course, poor women below the age of nineteen are choosing to get pregnant so that upper-class judges’ salaries can be taxed to pay for their healthcare. And not only that, they are doing it again and again and again!!

How dare they!

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