Every second Indian child is malnourished: Report
Shreya Bhandary, TNN
MUMBAI: Every second child in India is malnourished; 79% children across the country are anaemic; and the child sex ratio is at the lowest ever with 914 girls for every 1000 boys. These are some of the findings in a report, released by Child Rights and You (CRY),that dwells on the abysmal state of children in the country.
According to the report, the national dropout rate at the elementary level is 40% despite the enactment of the right to education.
"Children are invisible citizens of this country. We have the largest population of kids in the world and yet there has been no national data to check the nutrition level of children since 2005. We are talking about various laws and policies that are being introduced as rights for children but are they availing the same?" asked Puja Marwaha, CRY CEO, after the report was released.
The report also highlights other problems —11.8% of children in India are engaged in some form of child labour and nearly 45% girls still get married before the age of 18 years. "We had to struggle to get national data on nutrition or child trafficking. Nobody has bothered to find out how and where kids are being sold for various reasons," she said.
Take the case of Maharashtra where almost half of the children under five years are stunted and nearly one-fifth are severely stunted. The child sex ratio in the state stands at 883 girls for every 1000 boys. According to the official estimate by the state education department in July 2012, close to 2.3 lakh children were out of school and this group primarily composed of children with disabilities and other disadvantages. "Even in a cosmopolitan city like Mumbai, the child sex ratio is very skewed," said Marwaha.
On the eve of the Children's Day, CRY launched a nationwide "Vote for Child Rights" campaign. It also unveiled the Child Rights Manifesto that calls for all political parties as well as voters to give top priority to children and commit to improving the plight. "We analysed the manifestos by various political parties during the last elections ... Our campaign calls for the citizens to show zero tolerance to any form of violation of child rights," said Kreeanne Rabadi, Regional Director, CRY.
The NGO has approached political leaders with an appeal to give priority to children's issues in their respective party manifestos.