Care today for kids for better future

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In 2020, India will probably have the largest population of youth in the world. That makes it important to begin caring now for the country’s children. 

In India’s 1.2 billion population 30 per cent are children. Given the scale of poverty (69 per cent of the population lives on less than two US dollars per day) and the fact that a quarter of all child deaths globally occur in India, tackling child poverty becomes a matter of significance. 

Therefore, in the recent findings from the Young Lives, a study of childhood poverty, that was recently released in the City, the fourth round of data, collected in late 2013, showed how children’s lives in India have been changing in the past 11 years since the study began. 

The study mentions that 49 per cent of the youth were still in education at the age of 19. However, children from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds were the most likely ones to have dropped out from school, many without gaining a secondary-level certificate. 

In addition, many young people from marginalised groups had already started full-time work, mostly self-employed or wage-employed in agriculture, with no further education or vocational skills, which goes against 

the equity aims of national youth policy.

These figures are alarming and makes one despair over the condition of children today. Dr Renu Singh, country director of Young Lives, India, says, “We need to put children right in the centre of all our social schemes. Unfortunately, we don’t really think of children when planning. Many children accompany their mothers when they go out for work and one doesn’t even bother if there is water available at the workplace so that the child can be given a bath! Older children miss out on school to work with their mother or father, and we don’t think of the repercussions of this on children when we plan our policies for development.”    
 It is important to note that it is not just one organisation that has come up with a report that raises questions about children and youth. 

“Every year childcare and orphanages are easing out children, but there is no tracking system. There is no data or statistics on children moving out of these institutions. Smooth transition is extremely necessary to ensure that these young children become independent adults and are not exploited by inhuman, violent life conditions that may turn many of them into law offenders and exploiters,” says Dr Kiran Modi, managing trustee, Udayan Care.

Udayan Care is soon going to make its report public keeping in mind the fact that India alone houses nearly 31 million orphan children, a substantial number of children who are out of the family protective net and get institutionalised as ‘abandoned, abused, runaway children’ or ‘children in conflict with the law’. 

Dr Modi adds, “Attention must be paid to realising goals of the National Youth Policy, 2014 so that adolescents achieve their full potential and gain the skills required to get them a secure future.” 

After all, ultimately it is these children today who will be the youth of tomorrow. 

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