Poverty has been cited as one of the main reasons why millions of Indian children do not get access to the rights they are entitled to. India, being home to every sixth child in the world (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation- MoSPI, 2012), has not been able to ensure the Right to Survival, Right to Development, Right to Protection and Right to Participation to its children.

Any issue that causes a child rights violation like female foeticide or child labour, is a symptom of deep-rooted problems such as lack of livelihoods, caste or gender bias. Poverty and the problems arising from it, often hit the children in the worst manner because they are the most vulnerable.

  • An estimated 11.6 lakh children die every year within one year of their birth due to lack of immunisation. (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India)
  • Vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) are still responsible for over 5 lakh deaths annually in India.
  • Out of the 400 million children in India, every second child is malnourished (National Family Health Survey III – NFHS, 2005-06)
  • In India the child sex ratio is at the lowest it has ever been with just 914 girls for every 1000 boys (Census, 2011)
  • Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) continues to be high at 212 per 100,000 live births (Sample Registration System – SRS, 2011)
  • In India 22% babies are born with low birth weight (National Family Health Survey III – NFHS)
  • 55% of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes children under 3 years of age are underweight compared to about 37% of children from the general population of 400 million children (National Family Health Survey III – NFHS)
  • The Under-5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) in India is 88.1% for Schedule Caste and 95.7% for Schedule Tribe children, against the national average of 59.2% (National Family Health Survey III – NFHS)
  • 47 out of every 1000 live births do not complete their first year of life ((Sample Registration System – SRS, 2011)
  • 79% children of the 400 million in India (6-35 months) are anaemic (National Family Health Survey III – NFHS)
  • Only 54% children of the 400 million in India receive full immunization (District Level Household & Facility Survey III – DLHI, 2007-08)
  • The Net Enrollment Ratio (NER) at the Upper Primary Elementary Level in government schools in India is only 58.3% (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation – MoSPI, 2012)
  • Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) at the Secondary Level in government schools in India is below 50% (District Information System for Education – DISE, 2011-12)
  • School dropout rate amongst adolescent girls in India is as high as 63.5% (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation – MoSPI, 2012)
  • Nearly 45% girls In India get married before the age of eighteen years (National Family Health Survey III – NFHS)

While tackling the issues that poverty has given rise to, ‘charity’ alone is not a lasting solution to enable change for the millions of children living in India today, who have little or no access to food or education and are exploited daily. A rights-based approach ensures that entitlements are available to all children without any discrimination. They are universal and non–negotiable.

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