In the past, we have had several examples of woman officers acing the balancing act between work and family. This time a viral video of an IAS officer discharging her duties while holding her newborn left Twitter divided. 

IAS officer Soumya Pandey, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Modi Nagar, can be seen discharging her duties in the office while holding her three-week-old daughter in her arms and signing papers without wearing a mask.  While the baby is resting peacefully on her arms, the IAS officer is seen flipping through pages. 

Soumya Pandey, IAS
Soumya Pandey, IAS

The video has garnered an overwhelming response on social media but apart from praising the officer, people are worried about the safety of the child during the times of Coronavirus. 

Sharing the post on Twitter, a user informed that the SDM joined the duty three weeks after giving birth to her daughter. Quoting Soumya, he said that she does not have any difficulty in maintaining a balance between her two roles, one of a mother and other of the SDM.

Salute to her, COVID times not safe for the baby: Netizens react

What was meant to probably inspire other women around, instead draws flak from a few quarters. The public ire is two-found, it's not just the infant's well-being at risk of being compromised but it's a wrong example for the future and new mothers.

A Twitter user said, "Maternity leave isn't a vacation that women avail of because they feel like it or are lazy. cheap publicity stunts like these degrade mothers and women," a social media user was quick to point.

One user said, "Is UP government so low on resources that a mother had to come with the baby to work. It's the department's job to find an alternative to this resource and provide full maternity leaves to mother. Bringing a few week old kid and that to I'm Corona time is no bravery."

"She must be making lot of effort to manage family and professional responsibilities. Respect for her. But, better she take leaves that will be much beneficial for her child's healthy dev and for her mental health."

"This is unhealthy nonsense I'm afraid. Why would she risk the baby getting infected. It may be good as professional but setting bad precedent for a kid during pandemic maybe prone to viruses easily and that's not doing good to the kid. Hope she will avail leave quota allocated to her."

The science behind maternity leave

Pregnant woman denied admission to labour ward as she did not carry her Aadhaar card [Representational image]Reuters

For the fractional minority that is not yet convinced of the absolute necessity of maternity leave, a recent study puts to rest any arguments against maternity leave citing economy. Well-rested mothers, happy babies are healthy for the economy as well.

According to a multi-institution study co-authored by UC San Francisco researchers and published in Harvard Review of Psychiatry in March 2020, new mothers who are entitled to paid maternity leave, above and beyond the few weeks of duration, are more likely to have better mental and physical health. The study further adds that happy and well-rested mothers, in turn, make sure that their offspring has a slightly reduced likelihood of infant death, an increased chance of secure maternal attachment, breastfeeding and keeping up to date with vaccinations.