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Mum Is The Word

Mothers are in plight in India, where motherhood is solemnly celebrated! The Supreme Court of India recently reprimanded one of the South Asian Country’s top Universities, for terminating a part-time college Lecturer during her Maternity Leave. The incident took place in early 2019. A Lecturer, working in a college under the University of Delhi, had applied for her maternity leave. However, the College Authorities did not, seemingly, pay any heed to her request. As the College Authorities did not renew her contract, her employment was terminated. According to sources close to the University of Delhi, only Permanent Teachers can enjoy Maternity Leaves. In the context of this case, the Apex Court recently expressed deep dissatisfaction over the decision of the University. The Court has made it clear that the birth of a child cannot affect a woman’s Professional Skills.

Unfortunately, India needed this Judicial Intervention to realise this fact! It is to be noted that the Indian Parliament had passed a law in 2017, increasing the period of Maternity Leave for working women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, the third longest in the world! However, various institutions are reluctant to provide women with this facility. Often, part-time and contractual employees cannot avail Maternity Leaves. In the Indian Society, there is a strong belief that giving birth to a child partially reduces the skills of a mother. There is no logical reason behind this… On the contrary, studies have revealed that the giving birth to a child increases the efficiency of the mother, in some cases!

Employees of the Organised, as well as the Unorganised Sector, are the victims of this injustice. In the Private Sector, women often face many questions and conditions regarding childbirth, especially during interviews. Even, Asha Workers (NGO employees) are entitled to avail only a 45-day maternity leave. It is because the Government of India considers them as Volunteers. The Tragedy is that the Asha Workers sensitise people about the need to breast-feed babies for at least six months after their birth!

Maternity Leaves, it is felt, should not be considered as any unfair advantage or unnecessary benefit. The State is obliged to provide this leave in order to strengthen mothers’ bond with their newborns. The failure to ensure the presence of mother in a newborn’s life certainly has a negative impact on the child’s growth. The poor health condition of future generations is not a good sign for any State, as the State would have to make up for that loss in future. Many countries allow women to avail a 52-week maternity leave. Therefore, one has to understand the reasoning behind adopting a law. For the overall development of a country, the Government needs to improve the environment at workplaces. The Moral Obligation to ensure the Welfare measures cannot be avoided at any cost…

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