In less than two weeks, India will celebrate Children’s Day. There will be programs held and speeches made on the treasures that our children are and the tremendous potential they hold for our country’s future.
It is also a good time to take a hard look at the plenty we don’t seem to get right when it comes to our children. Recent Census 2011 data says over 77 lakh Indian children are forced to earn a living as they attend schools, while over eight crore kids don’t go to school at all.
The fact that so many children are still forced to work is troubling, because it is an indication of the low priority education receives among so many. It is also an indicator of just how unaffordable education is for so many in our country.
India’s under-18 population is the highest in the world, what we pride as our demogrpahic dividend. Then why do they get such low priority when it comes to education and health?
A large percentage is marginalized for reasons like poverty, disease, malnourishment and conflicts. States like Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and even prosperous Gujarat lag far behind some African countries when it comes to infant mortality. Over 16 million girls between 10 and 19 years are married, many of them to older men.
When it comes to investing in this fragile and critical age group, we are severely wanting at many levels.