By- Shivam Sharma
India has a population of nearly 150 million children under the age of 18 yrs according to the census of 2011. More than half of these come under the category of underprivileged children. Every human being on this earth has a right to protection from any kind of peril either to his/her life or property. In world history child rights are the most ratified. The united nation convention on right of child (UNCRC) defines child rights as- the rights of children to get minimum facilities and freedom for their physical and mental development without considering their race, caste, sex, origin, nation, religion and other things.
These rights must ensure freedom of each and every child as — ● Freedom to be born. ● Freedom not be forced into slavery and trafficking ● Freedom not to be engaged in any child labour activity and so on. The Indian constitution also confers extremely crucial rights to every child of the nation like ● Right to Education (Art.21A) ● Protection of employment of children in factories etc.(Art.24)
Constitutional bodies like The national human right commission & The ministry of women and child development are also there to ensure justice and protection of rights to every child in the country. Many NGOs have also come together to promote and protect the rights of unprivileged children. They have kicked off several initiatives in order to defend children from any abuse. Many initiatives by the Government of India and other nations are also in progress to ensure the holistic development of children worldwide.
Looking at Indian scenario a number of policies and plans have been laid down by several governments since the independence of the nation and such plans specifically cover the children from rural areas where due to lack of education, awareness and whatsoever reasons the rights of unprivileged children are breached in most cases. Presently all these efforts by the states and other bodies seem far less than what is required to ensure protection of child rights. In Fact! sometimes all the efforts by the governments, NGOs or other bodies found in vain when every single day one may come across a heart wrenching bold headline in the newspapers stating a child being sexually assaulted or raped and The number of reports and surveys showing the deteriorating health conditions of children in urban and rural India.The common prevalent issue of illiteracy among unprivileged children (especially in rural areas) is a black spot prima facie on world's one of the biggest democracies.
According to a report by Child Relief and You(CRY) the crime against children rose by 20% in 2019 in which Kidnapping and Abduction were to be the most prevalent according to 42% of total 1,29,032 cases of crimes reported. This report clearly shows the extreme vulnerable condition of children in India only, looking at the global canvas it could be worse. This report only reveals the figures related to crimes of kidnapping and abduction, considering other crimes like child labour, child marriage, sexual assault, rape and other heinous crimes against children the figures are astronomical.
The nutritional and health statistics of children also reveals disappointing figures nearly 19.8 million children (below 6yrs of age) in India are undernourished. In the literacy front also the literacy rate among children below 18 yrs of age is also not good enough as it must be. Further bifurcating the category of children into Girls and Boys, the data shows girls are more vulnerable than the boys (if considering cases of sexual offences) albeit boys are also victims of domestic and other sexual offences a recent report by POCSO submitted.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) report on hazardous child labour states that approx 73 million children aged between (5-17) are working under dangerous conditions in wide range of sectors i.e. Agriculture, Manufacturing, Mining, Construction, Domestic services, Marketing etc. and it is found in both developing and developed economies. Worldwide the ILO estimated that some 22000 children are killed at the workplace every year. Countries like Africa and Asia & The pacific topped the list where a number of children work in hazardous conditions.
Now the question arises what steps have been taken to tackle such major global issues?
There are thousands of policies and acts governments around the world have implemented to ensure protection of child rights. In addition to it many nations have come together and signed MOUs to tackle such major issues.
In India The Child Protection Service(CPS) Scheme sponsored by the central government is one such initiative. It supports 24×7 outreach helpline service for children in distress. The criminal law amendment act(2013) was enacted to serve as a deterrence against sexual offences against the minors.
The GOI recently amended Protection of child from sexual offences (POCSO)act 2012 effective from 16.8.2019 to make it more powerful and stringent in order to deal with the cases of child sexual abuse in the country. This POCSO act protects children from all backgrounds and specifically the underprivileged children from sexual offences.
Many nationwide programs and initiatives functional under the National Rural Health Mission are also a boon to the underprivileged children in rural areas. This mission includes inoculations of neonatal, infant, toddlers and other age group children. This inoculation initiative provides health protection to underprivileged children from contagious and childhood diseases.
Mega initiatives like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao also came into force to ensure safe birth of girl child and spread awareness regarding how crucial is education in development of all children (whether girl or boy). Consequently such positive steps by the government acts as a beacon of awareness and optimism among all of us and laying down such stringent steps to protect the rights of children works as a guide to other nations as well.
Recently the Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu launched a report in which 5 states of India i.e. Kerala, Goa, Tripura, Tamil Nadu and Mizoram topped the list for the well being of children. The report was based on the Young Child Outcome index which measures health, nutrition and cognitive growth of children with the help of indicators like infant mortality rate, attendance at primary school level etc. Such reports and results show the green shoots in welfare actions by the government.
Every year The ministry of women and child development spends a lot of budgetary allocations on child care and child health programmes but in addition it is also required to execute such pivotal schemes in a disciplinary fashion and without any hindrance of red-tapism so that substantially better results could lay out.
Last but not the least it's not only the state's duty to ensure protection of various rights of children but also our duty and responsibility towards the nation to create such an environment where our forthcoming generations could lead a peaceful life and can enjoy their rights to the fullest. This is the only way we could do justice to our nation, to our children.
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