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Dr Ambedkar's contribution towards women's rights in India: maternity Benefit Act in India :: Dhanarasi Gowtham

Posted on:  | 20 Mar 2017

If the Dr. B.R Ambedkar would have been born in a Upper caste family in India , people of upper Caste would have erected millions of temple in his name : but alas people of India specially upper Caste just want to kill his ideas everyday , but even the desperate effort of Upper caste people Dr. Ambedkar is alive and his idea of revolution and salvation from the caste atrocities has been motivation the Indian Youth no matter he is from upper caste or lower caste , now youths are following him in order to make a better and modern India .

Here are some great historical illustrations which he painted by his noble mind he is the first Indian who wanted to free women from the tyranny clutches of Brahminism and Manusimriti and give them the equal and special rights .. the polluted mind of historian on maternity benefit act totally ignore his ground and end work on Maternity benefit act

Early History and Effort by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Maternity Benefit Act:

I don't know how many Indian women knows the contribution of Revolutionary Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar's major role for the Maternity Benefits bill in the Bombay legislature in July, 1928 itself for the factory women workers. In fact it was the first Maternity Benefits Act passed in India in 1929 by the Bombay legislature.

On this regard he said, "I believe that it is in the interests of the nation that the mother ought to get a certain amount of rest during the pre-natal period and also subsequently. I am prepared to admit this fact because the conservation of the people's welfare is primarily the concern of the Government. And in every country, therefore, where the maternity benefit has been introduced, you will find that the Government has been subjected to a certain amount of charge with regard to maternity benefit. I think, therefore, the benefits contemplated by this bill ought to be given by this Legislature to the poor women who toil in our factories in this Presidency."

Subsequently the Madras Maternity Benefit Act was passed by the Madras Legislature Council in 1934 and subsequently in other provinces of India.

As a Labour Minister in the Viceroy executive council between 1942 and 1946, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was instrumental in bringing the Mines Maternity Benefit Bill for women in all over India. Under this act, a woman working in the mine is entitled to maternity benefit for a period of 8 weeks. This period of 8 weeks is divided into two parts of four weeks each, one part preceding delivery and another part succeeding delivery.

Later all the acts of Maternity Benefit of various states were repealed and a common Maternity Benefit Act-1961 was adopted by the Central Government for all states in India.

2) Equal pay for equal work irrespective of the sex:

Revolutionary Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was the first person who brought "Equal pay for equal work irrespective of the sex" in India in terms of Industrial workers as a Labour Minister in the Viceroy executive council.

Dr. Ambedkar started his movement in 1920. He stated “We shall see better days soon and our progress will be greatly accelerated if male education is persuaded side by side with female education. Dr. Babasaheb spent his life for the betterment of women even involved in bad practices and professionals like prostitutions. The greatest example of it was seen in Kamathipura. There was a person named David who was the mediator working in brothel. He left his profession persuaded by the thoughts and teachings of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. He evoked the entire prostitute to give up their profession and lead the life of honour. In the Manu Smriti, Manu not only shows contempt for women but goes on to degrade them as slaves, devoid of intellect; denies them the right of education and the right to property; and forbids them from performing sacrifices. Being India‟s first Law minister and chairman of drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly, Dr. Ambedkar thought it appropriate, rather his duty, to free women from the age old thralldom by reforming the Hindu social laws created by Manu. He, therefore, took initiative to draft and introduce the Hindu Code Bill in the Constituent Assembly. Dr. Ambedkar tried an adequate inclusion of women‟s right in the political vocabulary and constitution of India is

Constitutional rights to women

1. Article14 - Equal rights and opportunities in political, economic and social spheres 2.Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the ground of sex. 3. Article 15(3) enables affirmative discrimination in favour of women. Article 39 – Equal means of livelihood and equal pay for equal work. 4. Article 42 – Human conditions of work and maternity relief. 5.Article 51 (A) (C) – Fundamental duties to renounce practices, derogatory to the dignity of women. 6.Article 46 – The state to promote with special care, the educational and economic interests of weaker section of people and to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. 7.Article 47 – The state to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health and so on. Article 243D (3), 243T (3) & 243R (4) provides for allocation of seats in the Panchayati Raj System
The Hindu Code Bill, the most formidable legislative measure of modern India, sought among other reforms, to put an end to a variety of marriage systems prevailing in India and legalise only monogamous marriages. The Code also sought to confer on women the right of property and adoption which had been denied by Manu. It put men and women on an equal level in all legal matters. Dr. Ambedkar said, “I should like draw attention of the house to one important fact. The great political philosopher Burke who wrote his great book against the French Revolution said that those who want to conserve must be ready to repair. And all I am asking this House is: If you want to maintain the Hindu system, Hindu culture and Hindu society, do not hesitate to repair where repair is necessary. This Bill asks for nothing more than to repair those parts of the Hindu system which have become dilapidated”. In his letter of resignation dated the 27 September, 1951 to the Prime Minister, he wrote1 “For a long time I have been thinking of resigning my seat from the Cabinet. The only thing that had held me back from giving effect to my intention was the hope that it would be possible to give effect to the Hindu Code Bill before the life of present Parliament came to an end. I even agreed to break up the bill and restricted it to Marriage and Divorce in the fond hope that atleast this much of our labour may bear fruit. But even that part of Bill had been killed. I see no purpose in my continuing to be a Member of your Cabinet”. The Hindu Code Bill was later split in to four Bills, and the same were put on the Statue Book by Parliament. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; The Hindu Succession Act, 1956; The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 are the four enactments which incorporate the ideas and principles of Hindu Code Bill formulated by Dr Ambedkar.

Ambedkar’s defense for women as the Law Minister of free India appeared in the form of the Hindu Code Bill in Parliament on 11th April 1947, the Bill could not withstand the opposition from the Hindu orthodoxy. Their major argument was that the Bill was an attempt at the “demolition of the entire structure and fabric of Hindu Society. In reality, the Bill was a threat to patriarchy on which traditional family structure, was bounded and that was the major reason behind the opposition. The Bill sought to abolish polygamy among the hindu's it proposed the right to property and the right to divorce for women. The Bill tried to codify the Hindu Laws which were in a scattered form. He proposed to reform these laws on seven different matters ,viz., i)the right to property of a deceased Hindu dying intestate to both male and female, ii)the order of succession among different heirs to the property of a deceased dying inestate, iii)the law of maintenance, iv)marriage, v)divorce, vi)adoption, and vii)minority guardianship. Despite the very moderate nature of Bill ,Dr. Ambedkar could not get it passed due to is opposition by many conservative caste http://Hindus.In protest against the failure of the Bill,Dr.Ambedkar resigned his seat in the cabinet. Although ,his efforts did not, entirely, go waste. Later, the original Bill was split into four different Bills with slight changes. Those were passed as the Hindu Marriage Act,1955; The Hindu Succession Act,1956; the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act,1956; and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance http://Act1956.As Lord Casey said, Ambedkar stands as the “fountainhead of wisdom and knowledge” in modern India.
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