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Child rights in India

Status of children in India

With more than a third of its population below the age of 18, India has the largest child population in the world. This backgrounder explores the levels of health, nutrition, education and social security of children, and government policy and action on child rights

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Who is a child?

By Asha Bajpai

The trouble with child rights begins with the very definition of a child in law. A child domiciled in India attains majority at the age of 18. But there are several grey areas in the law here. Under the child labour regulations, for instance, a child is a person under 14 years

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'Nitharis will happen until child rights becomes the focus of national policy'

By Lisa Batiwalla

In the rights-based approach, children are viewed as citizens, entitled to all that has been promised to them under the Constitution of India and the United Nations Child Rights Charter, rather than as objects of sympathy or charity, says CRY CEO Ingrid Srinath. But the Government of India's approach to children, she says, continues to be piecemeal -- a bit of welfare, a dollop of rights and large scoops of reactivity

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Stumbling from the start

The Achievements of Babies and Children (ABC) Index measures four very basic aspects of child wellbeing - survival, immunisation, nutrition and schooling. India scores no more than 66% overall. But states such as Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, and even Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, have made rapid strides in child development. What is the key? The rights-based approach and outstanding records of active state involvement in the provision of health, nutrition and education services.

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Childcare as a social responsibility

By Jean Dreze

The rights approach, which led to wider acknowledgement of elementary education as a fundamental right, contributed to the rapid expansion of school education in the 1990s. The rights approach should also be used to ensure the survival and wellbeing of children under 6, by demanding universalisation of the Integrated Child Development Services, the only major national programme aimed at this age-group

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What does the budget have to do with children?

By Ajay Kumar Sinha

Everything. Analysing trends in the government's allocation and expenditure on child-specific programmes and schemes is one way of holding the government accountable on its commitment to children. Though the percentage share of children in the Union budget has gone up from 1.2% in the 1990s to 4.91% in 2006-07, there is still quite a gap between need and allocation, and allocation and actual spending

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The battle for survival

By Kiran Moghe

The declining sex ratio was pointed out as far back as 1974. But it was only taken seriously after the shocking revelations of Census 2001. How can the female foetus and the girl-child be protected? Preventing sex-selective abortion by law is one way. But it cannot be the only way

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Street dreams

By Neeta Lal

Vicky Roy, an insider who has lived on the streets, been a dhaba-boy and a coolie, captures the daily battle for survival of Delhi's streetkids. This is his story, a story of how the right intervention can transform lives

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'Foot soldiers for our mothers

By Debolina Dutta And Oishik Sircar

Children in Kolkata's Sonagachi red-light district have formed Amra Padatik, a collective to work for the dignity of their mothers and to claim their rights as children. In this interview, AP's President Gobinda Saha and Secretary Chaitali Pal talk about the discrimination that dogs their lives and their work as young activists

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Protection without rights?

By Debolina Dutta And Oishik Sircar

Child sexual abuse cuts across class, caste, cultural and economic backgrounds. But there is no specific law to make it an offence. The recent disclosure of the Nithari killings may prompt the government to pass the much-awaited and long-needed Offences against Children Bill, 2005. But more laws may not ensure more rights for children

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Missing

By Rashme Sehgal

According to statistics compiled by the Institute of Social Sciences, a staggering 45,000 children go missing in India every year. Of these, 11,000 are never found

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Trafficked

By Rashme Sehgal

A recent study of 412 brothel owners from 12 states revealed that there were six girl-children on average per brothel. One-hundred-and-sixty traffickers interviewed admitted that young girls were their main target. In 35% of cases, it is families that sell their women into the flesh trade for as little as Rs 1,000-Rs 5,000

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'Enrolment is cause for celebration, quality is cause for concern'

By Freny Manecksha

According to the 2006 ASER survey, 93.2% of India's children in the 6-14 age-group are now in school. Farida Lambay of Pratham believes that the challenge is now keeping children in school and finding out why even after four years of schooling children cannot read

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The aspiration for education

By Kumar Rana

There is unimaginable poverty and hunger in the picturesque Doars region of West Bengal. Still, the people here feel that education is more important for their children than nutrition. How is this aspiration for education being met in these remote villages?

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Getting children into school: Flexibility is the key

By Shantha Sinha

All government interventions in education are based on the assumption that child labour cannot be abolished and that the poor do not wish to send their children to school. In fact, the poor make enormous sacrifices to do just that. It is time the administration responded with strategies that help children enrol and stay in school

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Mainstreaming disability into the child rights agenda

By Renu Addlakha

One in every 10 children is born with or acquires a disability. While the pulse polio drive and immunisation against diphtheria, pertusis and tetanus have been quite successful, the State's efforts to prevent conditions such as blindness, deafness and neurological disabilities have been dismal

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Children and the criminal justice system

By Ved Kumari

The Juvenile Justice Act 2000 lays down a non-penal protective juvenile justice system for children alleged to have committed an offence. While the legislation itself is well-intentioned, there are many stumbling blocks in its implementation, chief among them the difficulty of establishing whether an offender is a child or not, in a country where millions do not have birth certificates or other records

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Laughing and learning

By Agyatmitra

Play For Peace works with children from communities in conflict, using cooperative play to bring them laughter and return to them their right to childhood

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The missing face of AIDS

By Shelley Seale

Yesu Babu of Vambay Colony in Vijayawada is 12. He has lost both his parents to AIDS. His younger brother is positive. There are almost 2 million AIDS orphans like him in India. But the national and global response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in India has virtually ignored children

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Media violence: Fact and fiction

By Shohini Ghosh

Urban India witnesses intermittent public outbursts around the impact of TV violence on children. This construction of children as copycats and passive victims of media violence displaces any complicated analysis of how they actually engage with television, says Shohini Ghosh

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