the monthly antenatal clinic at semariya is always a busy one.
today it is light due to the large number of weddings taking place, with 58 women attending. tiharin bai, the health worker at karhikachar calls up to say there are 12 women waiting there: the bus has not come today as it has been leased out to a wedding party. we send our jeep to fetch them.
it is baking hot in the clinic, well over the 46 deg C that bilaspur and its environs has been maintaining the past few days. it is painful putting the hot earpieces of the stethoscope into my ears each time to examine a woman, and i keep drinking gulps of warm water to fight the heat and thirst.
but that is a minor discomfort. most of the women who attend the clinic today have not gained any weight in the past month, and some have lost weight. all of them have been working in this hot sun under the NREGS. i tell them they need to rest, and not do hard physical labour. they need the money, they say, and cannot remain at home.
the NREGS can guarantee employment, but not their health.