The total expenditure of the government on child protection remains a mere 0.34 percent of India's Gross Domestic Product, and approximately 170 million children continue to live in precarious circumstances, experts said Thursday.
In the last 20 years, India has made impressive strides towards improving legal, policy, and administrative frameworks aimed at protecting and promoting the rights of children and adolescents, experts gathered at a seminar on child rights organised by the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights of Harvard University, in conjunction with the Public Health Foundation of India, said.
In her keynote address, Shantha Sinha, professor of Political Science at the University of Hyderabad who had served as the first chief of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and is also renowned for her activism to prevent child labour, expressed deep concern about child security and listed the barriers to adolescent empowerment in India, especially for abused and neglected children abandoned by parents and families.
"There are 42 million children in the 14-18 age group who are out of school, who live in exploitative environments lacking financial and personal security, and who are vulnerable to early marriage, gender discrimination and so on. They need the full support of the state and its services to exercise their own agency and negotiate a path towards dignity and freedom," she said.
Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India said: "Children live, learn and grow, not in isolation, but as part of families, communities and society. Hence community-based solutions that foster health and nutrition, psychosocial well-being, education, self-respect, dignity and the social reintegration of children and adolescents are the best way to ensure physical and psychological recovery."