Child Well-Being Index

  • On 27th August, 2019, the Child Well-Being Index was released by NGOs World Vision India and IFMR LEAD.
  • The index is a tool designed to measure and track children's well-being through three dimensions of healthy individual development, positive relationships and protective contexts.
  • It captures the performance of each state and union territory on a composite child well-being score.

Key Findings

  • Among states, Kerala (0.76), Tamil Nadu (0.67) and Himachal Pradesh (0.67) bagged the top three slots in the index.
  • Kerala bagged the top spot due to its exceptional performance in health, nutrition and education facilities.
  • Kerala also performed better in addressing malnutrition and ensuring child survival and access to a healthy environment in terms of clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.
  • Meghalaya (0.53), Jharkhand (0.50) and Madhya Pradesh (0.44) featured at the bottom.
  • For Jharkhand, child survival, nutrition and access to water and sanitation are the key areas that need to be focused on, to improve its score.
  • Low performance in the areas of child survival, nutrition, crimes against children and juvenile crimes, brought the scores down for Madhya Pradesh.
  • Among the union territories, Puducherry led the way with a score of 0.77 and Dadra andNagar Haveli featured at the other end with a score of 0.52

Significance

  • The report highlights the multi-dimensional approach towards measuring child well-being- going beyond mere income poverty
  • According to the NITI Aayog, theindex is a crucial that can be mined both by the Government and civil organisations to achieve the goal of child well-being in the country.

Challenges towards Child Well-Being

Malnutrition

  • India has the maximum number of malnourished children in the world – 1 in every 3 children is malnourished. According to the National Family Health Survey(NFHS), India has unacceptably high levels of stunting, despite marginal improvement over the years. In 2015-16, 38.4% of children below five years were stunted and 35.8% were underweight. Despite increase in food production, the rate of malnutrition in India remains very high.

Health Issues

  • The NFHS results show that over 58% of children below five years of age are anaemic, that is, they suffer from insufficient haemoglobin in the blood, leaving them exhausted, vulnerable to infections, and possibly affecting their brain development.According to the UNICEF, water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and respiratory infections are the number one cause for child deaths in India. Further, poor sanitation system especially in rural areas impairs the health leading to high rates of malnutrition and productivity losses.

Child Labour

  • As per the National Census 2011, there are close to 10.1 million child labourers in India, in the age group of 5 to 14 years.According to UNICEF, child labour in India has merely shifted from factories to employee homes and children are still engaged in harmful industries such as bidi, fireworks, brick kilnsproduction.

Child Trafficking

  • Child trafficking is a serious problem that is prevalent not only India but round the world.The majority of India’s trafficking problem is internal, and those from the most disadvantaged social strata. Girls from excluded groups are most vulnerable.These children are trafficked for various reasons such as labour, begging, and sexual exploitation.According to the national Crime Record Bureau(NCRB), three in five persons trafficked in 2016 were children (below 18 years).Of these, 4,911 (54%) were girls and the rest were boys.

Child Abuse

  • One of the biggest social stigmas attached to a society is that of child abuse. A child can be abused physically, sexually or mentally. It can be in the form of injury, neglect or negligent treatment, blaming, forced sexual stimulation and activity, incest exploitation and sexual abuse.

Child Poverty

  • Poverty in India has been cited as one of the main reasons why millions of children do not get access to the rights they are entitled to. India consists of 30.3 per cent of extremely poor children living across the world.Close to 9.97 crore children in India live in poverty-stricken conditions.

Child marriage

  • Despite having a law against child marriages for the last 90 years, child marriages are a reality in our country. As per statistics, child marriages account for 27 per cent of marriages in India, The incidences of child marriages, especially of minor girls, are higher amongst the socially, economically and educationally backward sections.Child marriage is a violation of child rights, and has a negative impact on physical growth, health, mental and emotional development, and education opportunities.

Way Forward

  • Children are the assets for tomorrow’s productivity up on which depends the growth and development of country.The well-being of children is a critical component of human development.
  • The government along with the stakeholders involved must work in the right direction to ensure that children have access to adequate nutrition, good health, and education, sanitation and clean water in order to provide them with a quality life and the rights,which they are entitled to under the constitution of India.

Source : Civil Services Chronicle Online, 27th August, 2019