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NITI Aayog, UNICEF India sign Statement of Intent on SDGs with focus on children

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    4th May, 2022

Context

NITI Aayog and UNICEF India signed a Statement of Intent on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a focus on children.

  • This seeks to formalize a framework of cooperation to launch the first report on the State of India’s Children – Status and Trends in Multidimensional Child Development.

Background

  • This new initiative is built on the ethos of SDG attainments for children and ensuring that no child is left behind.
  • The child-focused initiative builds on government’s effort of monitoring progress through the SDG India Index and Dashboard, which continues to be a unique data-driven initiative for triggering policy action.

The definition of child

  • Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC); Juvenile Justice Act 2000; Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (HMGA) 1956; Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 and so on define ‘child’ as a person who is under 18 years of age.
  • In the Constitution of India and Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, a ‘child’ is defined as a person below 14 years of age.
  • The recently amended Juvenile Justice Act 2015 states that children (16-18 years) may be treated as adults if they commit heinous crimes such as rape, acid attack, murder, etc.

Analysis

What is the actual state of children in India?

  • Lack of access to fundamental needs: A high level of percentage of children are living in ruralareas, often have limited access to fundamental needs such as nutrition, access to healthcare, education, and protection.
  • Gender discrimination: Due to poverty, security or cultural factors, male children are educated while their female siblings do not get much attention.
  • Poverty is considered as bane in childhood.
  • Child marriage is still a reality in the country. Though it is considered as the gross violation of human rights in any civil society, it still happens
  • Child labour is a social problem that affecting the enjoyment of childhood since time immemorial.
  • Trafficking: The slavery persists in the modern society in the form of trafficking. Children are the worst victim of this social evil.
  • Climate Change: The climate crisis-induced disasters are among the most relevant dangers to human survival. Children, in particular, are at the receiving end.
  • There are 472 million children in India under the age of 18 years, representing 39% of the country’s total population.
  • A large percentage, 29% of that figure constitute children between the ages of 0 to 6 years.

What needs to be done?

  • Social protection: Social protectionis essential for preventing and reducing poverty for children and families, for addressing inequalities, and for realizing children’s rights.
  • Child-sensitive social protection: Child-sensitive social protectionhas the opportunity to address chronic poverty, social exclusion, and external shocks which can irreversibly affect children.
  • Addressing the needs of Children: The government must work towards realisation of the following rights:
    • Right to Health
    • Right to Education
    • Right to life
    • Right to protection, and freedom of expression
    • Right Identity

How would the collaboration between NITI Aayog and UNICEF India would help?

  • UNICEF India and NITI Aayog are developing a comprehensive measure to understand the multidimensional attainments and deprivations among children across
    • health and nutrition
    • education
    • water and sanitation
    • household living standards
    • protective environment
  • It would help to analyse the status of children around critical child-related SDGs to establish recent trends.
  • Achieving 2030 Agenda: This effort will contribute to the realisation of India’s commitments to the 2030 Agenda and provide a set of policy recommendations for concerted action in terms of accelerating progress towards the SDGs to ‘leave no child behind’ and achieve their holistic development.

How would it be done?

  • The collaboration between NITI Aayog and UNICEF India will draw up the methods, technical analysis, reporting and action planning for the first report on the ‘State of India’s Children’.
  • This project will undertake a whole-of-society approach involving all stakeholders ranging from Union Ministries, state government, academia, civil society organisations and child rights collectives.

Practice Questions

Q1. What are the main functions of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)? Throw light on various collaborations between India and UNICEF over the years.

Q2. Child labour is a necessary evil. Critically examine.

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