The passage of the landmark Maternity Benefits Act 1961 by the Indian Parliament, which mandates 26 weeks of paid leave for mothers as against the existing 12, has generated more heartburn than hurrahs due to its skewed nature.
A media frenzy ensued in New Delhi last month when a popular television channel highlighted the horrific living conditions of women inmates in ward number six of Tihar Jail, South Asia's largest prison.
In a fraught global economic environment, exacerbated by climate change and shrinking resources, ensuring food and nutrition security is a daunting challenge for many nations. India, Asia's third largest economy and the world's second most populous nation after China with 1.3 billion people, is no exception.
Deepa Kumari, a 36-year-old farmer from Pithoragarh district in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, lives in a one-room tenement in south Delhi's Mongolpuri slum with her three children. Fleeing devastating floods which killed her husband last year, the widow landed up in the national capital city last week after selling off her farm and two cows at cut-rate prices.
Sunita Pal, a frail 17-year-old, lies in a tiny bed in the women’s ward of New Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. Her face and head swathed in bandages, with only a bruised eye and swollen lips visible, the girl recounts her ordeal to a TV channel propped up by a pillow. She talks of her employers beating her with a stick every day, depriving her of food and threatening to kill her if she dared report her misery to anybody.
The recent launch of Amaara, New Delhi's first human milk bank, has been greeted with much cheering. The initiative endorses the long-term goal of reducing infant mortality and addresses the critical issue of lack of mothers' milk for physically fragile newborns in India's capital city.
After the sea swallowed up her home and family in the Bangladeshi coastal district of Bhola along the Bay of Bengal, farmer Sanjeela Sheikh was heartbroken. Stripped of all her belongings, her fields swamped and her loved ones dead, she contemplated suicide.
A staggering 330 million Indians, making up a quarter of the country's population (or roughly the entire population of the United States), are currently reeling under the effects of a severe drought, resulting in an acute drinking water shortage and agricultural distress.
Women comprise nearly half of India's 1.2 billion population, yet gender bias and patriarchal mindsets continue to plague them well into the 21st century. Even holy places -- temples and mosques -- it seems aren't free from discriminating against the fair sex.
It is 8 am in Anugondanahalli village about 70 kms from India's IT hub of Bengaluru, capital of the southern Indian state of Karnataka. A group of farmers are huddled around a radio set sipping hot tea and tuned in to Sarathi Jhalak, a local community radio station (CRS) broadcasting on FM 90.4. On air is a programme about climate change that has everybody hooked. Experts are sharing simple tips on how farmers can pro-actively minimise the impact of erratic weather on their crops.
The tragic death of 12 women after a state-run mass sterilisation campaign in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh went horribly wrong in 2014 made global headlines. The episode saw about 80 women "herded like cattle" into makeshift camps without being properly examined before the laparoscopic tubectomies that snuffed out their lives. In another incident in 2013, police in the eastern Indian state of Bihar arrested three men after they performed a botched sterilisation surgery without anaesthesia on 53 women over two hours in a field.
Women constitute nearly half of the country's 1.25 billion people and gender equality -- whether in politics, economics, education or health -- is still a distant dream for most. This fact was driven home again sharply by the recently released United National Development Programme’s Human Development Report (HDR) 2015 which ranks India at a lowly 130 out of 155 countries in the Gender Inequality Index (GII). India trails behind most Asian countries, including lesser developed Bangladesh and Pakistan which rank 111 and 121 respectively, and fares not much ahead of war-ravaged Afghanistan at 152.
Despite being Asia’s third-largest economy, positioning itself as a major geopolitical player under a new nationalist government, India's first ever Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) paints a grim picture of poverty and deprivation despite billions of dollars being funneled into state-sponsored welfare schemes.
Chottey Lal, 43, a daily wage labourer at a construction site in NOIDA, a township in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is a beleaguered man. After a gruelling 12-hour daily shift at the dusty location, he and his wife Subha make barely enough to feed a family of seven.
In a bid to overhaul the country's child labour laws, the Indian government has banned the employment of children below 14 years of age in various commercial ventures, while permitting them to work in family enterprises and on farmlands after school hours and during vacations.