By Dr Dharmakanta Kumbhakar
Children are the greatest asset of any tion. They are the greatest hope for the future. Every tion, developed or developing, links its future with the status of the child. The future of a tion rests on healthy, protected, educated and well-developed children. They are the potential and useful human resources for the progress of the tion. Many of them, if properly groomed, may occupy various vital and useful positions in all walks of life in the future. Ignoring or neglecting the children means wasting a greatest tiol asset and loss to the society as a whole. If children are deprived of their childhood—socially, economically, physically and mentally—the tion gets deprived of the potential human resources for social progress, economic empowerment, peace and order and the social stability and good citizenry. As a plant needs protection, nourishment and proper environment to grow into a big fruit-bearing tree, a child also needs protection, promotion, nourishment and proper environment to grow into a useful and responsible citizen to serve the tion. The child of today cannot develop to be a responsible and productive member of tomorrow’s society unless an environment which is conducive to his social and physical health is assured to him. Therefore, they are to be provided with all necessary facilities and atmosphere to grow into responsible and useful citizens of the tion.
Realizing the importance of the children in shaping the future of a tion, the law makers both in the intertiol forum as well as Indian forum have always been concerned to accord privileged status to children. In 1959, the United tions passed the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and in 1989 it had the Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by our country as well in 1992. India has made good strides in uplifting the position of the child. The Constitution of India guarantees equality before the law to all citizens, and pledges special protections for children. In 1974, India adopted a tiol Policy for children and declared it a supreme tiol asset. We have a full-fledged ministry and numerous agencies engaged in child welfare work. The tiol Commission for Protection of Child Rights has been set up as a statutory body under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 to protect, promote and defend child rights in the country. The 86th Constitutiol Amendment that made education a fundamental right for children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. There are various acts like The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986; The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986; Protection of Children against Sexual Offense Act, 2012 etc. to protect the child’s right in India.
India has 440 million children constituting 42 percent of India’s total population. As they are the greatest asset of our tion, they need appropriate attention and proper support to grow well to engage them usefully to serve the country. They are to be looked after and groomed well with great human touch and concern. We have both obligation and duty towards them. We should remember and remind ourselves that it is only strong, knowledgeable and virtuous children who can make our country strong and great. Their holistic development should be of great concern in their interest and in the interest of the country. Every child should receive services that support early childhood care and development. Children should have access to preventive, protective and curative services, ensuring good quality health needs, nutrition, education and universal immunization against vaccine preventable diseases. They have to provide adequate housing and shelter; better public health services like safe drinking water, sanitation, environmental protection, combat hunger and malnutrition by ensuring food security to families and nutritiol security to children. They must receive the best education and nurturing in order to ensure a better future for them. Every child in the country has a legitimate claim and is entitled to its share in the finces of the tion for harmonious and comprehensive development of its persolity. There is a need to enhance the share in the Budget for the development and welfare of children in their interest as well as in the interest of the country. Education must be our top priority. Government agencies need to increase investment in education. Spending money on education of the child is not an expense on the public exchequer but an asset in the long run. Education of the child is inextricably intertwined with the progress of a democracy. Democracy can succeed only with an informed citizenry. The education pattern, which must be applied not only at schools but also at homes, must be able to bring about character development, which will encourage the children to work hard and to be optimistic, competitive and tough. Inculcating noble values among children is crucial. Children have to be protected against trafficking, commul and political violence, arm conflict, terrorist activities, migrant situations, all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and corporal punishment. The state needs effective legislation to punish and deter all forms of abuse, exploitation and trafficking in children as well as pretal sex determition, feticide and infanticide. NGOs and administrators of government should reach out to the neglected, deprived and abused children for their comprehensive needs that include education, health aspects, protection and rehabilitation In India, the problems of socially margilized and economically backward groups are immense, particularly amongst children in urban slums, street and working children, children of construction workers etc. They should be provided with safe shelter services, health care and opportunities for relevant education and vocatiol training. Orphages and shelter homes are required to assist children without families. Adoption should give first priority to the best interests of the child concerned. Children should have access to contact services to help them in case of emergency or distress. The emergency toll-free phone service for children in distress (Child Line 1098) should be expanded and awareness generated about such help lines. Child protection services must reach the rural areas, where a large proportion of the population resides. The panchayat officials should be given responsibility for proper development of every child in their villages. There is needed to make people aware about rights of children and as to the importance of their growing up as responsible and productive citizens. Educatiol institutions, governments, NGOs and media can play a vital role in this regard. If we neglect and do not provide or meet the bare needs of food, health and education of these children, heavy price will have to be paid in the future. If India is to live, children are to live well.