Mysuru, November 14:- In India, Children’s Day is celebrated on November 14 every year. However, Universal Children’s Day, which is recommended by the United Nations (UN), is celebrated on November 20 every year, coinciding with the day on which the ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Children’ was adopted by the UN and the convention on children’s rights held in 1990. India was also celebrating Children’s Day on November 20, prior to the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of our country in 1964. Later, it was changed to November 14, as a tribute to Nehru, coinciding with his birthday. Nehru loved the children more and was keen on the development and education of children.
As children are more vulnerable in the population, in many countries, Children’s Day is celebrated as the day for the protection of children. This day should be used to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the children and reduce atrocities and abuses against children. As Nehru rightly said, “The children of today will make the India of tomorrow. The way we bring them up will determine the future of the country,” teaching the values of life, discipline and culture can make them grow as responsible citizens of tomorrow, with harmonious development of the personality.
Today’s children are facing many challenges. Children’s requirements as indicated in several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN, like poverty (Goal 1), hunger (Goal 2), health (Goal 3), education (Goal 4), gender equality (Goal 5), climate change (Goal 13) or violence against children (Goal 16.2) needs to be addressed for sustainable development of children. Sex ratio at birth is still a major concern in the country as a whole and in particular in some states.
In our country, discrimination is being shown towards educating boys and girls, mainly in financially weaker sections and among rural communities. Children in poor families are forced to work due to financial constraints to send them to school or sustain the family living.
Child marriage is another area where we have to focus. Minor marriages, especially, girls’ less than 18 years, though reduced, still exists in our country.
Crimes against children especially female children are frequently being reported. Sexual abuse even in infants and less than five years old are also being reported occasionally in the country. Trafficking the children and forcing them to do anti-social activities are also in the news.
Effective implementation of POCSO (protection of children from sexual offenses), Juvenile Act, etc., can save children from the clutches of offenses. The steps taken by The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) of our country to protect child rights are laudable.
Disparity even in immunization coverage has been noticed not only between boys and girls but also between rural and urban children, which needs to be avoided. This may lead to high risk of diseases in non-immunized children. Child obesity on one side, malnutrition, stunting and wasting on the other side are making the children suffer from several health issues.
It is a collective responsibility of the government, family, schools, colleges and institutions to ensure that children are provided with opportunities in terms of nutritious food, proper education (both moral and regular) and health for a better living and to take our country to progress in the future. Today’s investment on our children may reap fruits later in their lives. –Dr S V N Vijayendra (The author has been a regular contributor to CityToday and a prominent crusader for the upright values in our society.)