Today is Children Day (14th Nov.)… Happy Children Day..
but wht is real situation in India. They’re supposed to be our future.But there’s little the country does for them.
take a look at some figure below.. it tell real story….
Number of HIV positive children in 2005 59,007
Infants with low birthweight 30%
Under-fives suffering from stunting (moderate to severe) 50%
Proportion of children among commercial sex workers 40%
Proportion of girls out of school (6-10 years) 52%
Proportion of boys out of school (6-10 years) 48%
Sources: Unicef, Pratham -Annual Survey of Education 2005, NACO
Fun and frolic is probably what’s in store for thousands of children in India on Tuesday, Children’s Day. However, there are crores of other kids in the same country, who, unaware of the day’s significance, will probably go to bed hungry as usual, not knowing when they would get their next meal. The reality of ‘Two Indias’ is nowhere more heartbreaking and stark than in the state of this underprivileged majority.
Children are the ‘generation of hope’. But how can we have any hope when facts tell a different tale. India has the largest number of children, estimated at 40 crore. Great. But we also have the dubious distinction of having the largest number of malnourished children, kids affected by AIDS, street children and child labourers and one of the largest numbers of children out of school. Says Shanta Sinha, Magsaysay awardee and chairperson of M V Foundation, an NGO that is working to eliminate child labour in Andhra Pradesh, ‘‘There’s no sense of shame or outrage in India that so many of our children are not going to school.’’
About 95 in every 1,000 children born here do not see their fifth birthday. Only 38% below the age of 2 are immunised. Of the 1.2 crore girls born, 30 lakh do not see their 15th birthday, and 10 lakh their first birthday. One-third of these deaths take place at birth. Our children are being denied food security, social security, right to education and health, even right to life.
Among the worst forms of deprivation has to be of food, especially among children. It stunts their growth, making them susceptible to diseases. According to Unicef ’s 2006 report card on global nutrition, ‘Progress for children’, South Asia has staggeringly high levels of underweight children (46%)— India, Bangladesh and Pakistan account for half of the world’s underweight children. Some 47% of Indian children are malnourished, the same as Ethiopia. Before we blame income disparities, consider this: 30 out of 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa report lower levels of child malnutrition than India!
And it’s not a nationwide phenomenon. A World Bank report ‘Undernourished Children’ observes that Bihar, UP, MP and Rajasthan account for 43% of the cases. This is mainly due to deficient diet, limited access to safe drinking water, sanitation and health services, and the low social and educational status of women, who are the primary caregivers of children. Inadequate care of women and girls results in low birthweight babies.
The Integrated Child Development Services, the government’s 31-year-old flagship programme to take care of the nutritional challenges faced by young children and pregnant women, has probably prevented famines, but not addressed issues of livelihood and even distribution of food within the family. Also, the scheme is currently reaching only 4 crore children out of a total population of 16.4 crore children under the age of 6.
According to a new budget analysis by Delhi-based NGO, Haq: Centre for Child Rights, even the funds allocated for schemes for children are meagre. There are seven government programmes for 16.4 crore children in the age group of 0-6 years. In 2004-05, the total expenditure of these programmes was Rs 4,700 crore. Thus, the government spent only Rs 288 per child in 2004-05. The average expenditure between 2000-05 was only Rs 208.
Even so, Shanta Sinha says, ‘‘The mid-day meal scheme in schools has helped to fight hunger and enabled harmonising of society. But it should be a rights-based programme (right to food) and not just an incentivebased programme.’’
EARNING TO LIVE
With hunger pangs in their bellies, how can anyone expect children to attend school? The recent Unesco’s ‘Education For All’ report, referring to a survey commissioned by the Indian government in 2005, says 1.35 crore children were out of school in the country. The groups, it says, that have a higher probability of being out of school include orphans, child labourers, scheduled tribe children, migrants and minority groups.
Ingrid Srinath, CEO of Child Rights and You (CRY), says, ‘‘Goldman Sachs says that India, along with Brazil, Russia and China, may become among the four most dominant economies by 2050. But it is the only country among the four that does not guarantee eight years of education to children.’’ She says the Right to Education Bill could have ensured free and compulsory education. But now, with the model bill becoming a state bill instead of a Central one, she feels it’s a ‘‘complete farce’’.
A large proportion of children are pulled out of school because they are expected to supplement the family income, apart from reasons of accessibility, caste, gender bias etc.
Between one and three crore are child labourers and a large percentage are homeless. They live and work in hazardous conditions, are vulnerable to abuse and remain beyond the reach of development programmes.
Says Shanta Sinha, ‘‘The ban on child labour is a chance to debate the issue. Domestic child workers are employed by enlightened sections of the society. The ban has made these children and their employers visible now. However, 80% of child labourers work in the agricultural sector and the ban does not cover them. That is a huge lacuna.’’ She feels whole-hearted commitment by the government and a societal law in favour of child rights can eliminate child labour. ‘‘Stop giving excuses that children must work or that their parents are not willing to send them to school,’’ she adds.
Another section of this generation that’s highly vulnerable are children affected by AIDS — either as HIV positive or/ and as AIDS orphans. The World Bank estimated that in 2005, there were about 20 lakh AIDS orphans in the country. With HIV infections spreading fast, more children are likely to bear the brunt of it. Neelam Dang, secretary of Women’s Action Group-Chelsea, which runs a care home for positive people in Delhi, is against the concept of orphanages for these children. ‘‘As it is, these children have suffered great shock. The community has to be sensitised and the children should be allowed to stay with their families.’’
However, positive children are not given priority at the policy level, even by international agencies, because they are not seen as a ‘‘high-risk transmission group’’. In many cases, where children outlive their positive parents, they face social ostracism and little government support. ‘‘There’s no model support programme for care of positive children. Even where they get access to medication, there’s complete ignorance about the paediatric dosage of antiretrovirals,’’ Srinath says.
Though it’s not a picture of complete hopelessness, time is not on our side if we are to save the future of our children. Srinath says, ‘‘There’s a lot of lip service, but in tangible action, we are doing a lot in the opposite direction.’’ ‘Excluded and invisible’, the title of this year’s Unicef report on the state of the world’s children, seems more than apt to describe the condition of much of India’s GenNext.
Source : Times of India, 12th Nov 2006