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Keeping in view the problems and challenges faced by children, laws have been
introduced and various policies and programmes are being implemented, for the
welfare of children in India
child has right to lead a decent life. The physical, mental and social well
being of a child depends upon the family to which she/ he belongs. In the
process of socialisation during childhood the family and school are two
important institutions which play significant role for integrated development
of the child. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of
Child, child means a person male or female who is below 18 years of age.
While casting glance over Indian situation, it is found that, around 440
million are children which constitute around 40 percent of country’s
population. India has high rate of neo-natal deaths which is around 35 percent
in the world. Around 50 percent of child mortality occurs in the country.
Keeping in view the problems and challenges faced by the Indian children, laws have
been introduced and various policies and programmes are being implemented for
the welfare of children in India.
National Policy for Children, 1974 was adopted on 22ndAugust 1974 in order to address the emerging
challenges relating to child rights. An advisory and Drafting Committee had
been formed for the purpose. The regional consultations regarding drafting of
working paper on Policy of Children had been held across the country with
concerned Ministries and departments from States and Union Territories, civil society
organisations, government and non government organisations, academicians and
Areas of the Policy:
infant Mortality Rate.
Maternal Mortality Rate
Malnutrition among children.
100 percent civil registration of births.
of early childhood care and development and quality education for all children;
100 percent access and retention in schools including pre-schools;
abolition of female foeticide, female infanticide and child marriage and
ensuring the survival, development and protection of the girl child;
water and sanitation coverage both in rural and urban areas.
for children all legal and social protection from all kinds of abuse,
exploitation and neglect.
abolition of child labour with the aim of progressively eliminating all of
economic exploitation of children
review and Reform of policies, programmes and laws to ensure protection of children’s
interest and rights.
child participation and choice in matters and decision affecting their lives.
24th has been declared as the National Girl
Child Day by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, since 2009.
Constitutional Safeguards for Indian
& 15(1) The
State shall prohibit discrimination against any citizen on the grounds of religion,
race, caste, sex. Nothing in this article prevents the State from making any
special provision for women and children.
A : The State shall provide
free and compulsory education to all children of the age 6- 14 years in such
manner as the State may, by law determine.
Article-24: No child below the age of 14 years shall
be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
Article-39(f): Enjoins the State to ensure that children
are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions
of freedom and dignity and that the childhood and youth are protected against
exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
Article-45 The State shall endeavour to provide early
childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of
Article-243G Provides for institutionalisation
of child care by seeking to entrust programmes of women and child development to
Panchayat (item 25 of Schedule 11)
Legislations related to Children
Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 codifies laws for adoption and
maintenance of both boys and girls and declares that the sons and daughters are
treated equally in the matter of succession. The Act confers that a woman could
adopt for herself in her own right. Adoption offemale child was not permissible prior to
passing of this Act and any oral or documentary evidence would be of no use,
when adoptee failed to prove any family custom prevailing in family for
adopting a female child. Section 15 of the Act says that the adoptive father or
mother or any other person nor can the adopted child renounce his or her status
as such and return to his family of his or her birth. The validity of adoption
cannot be adjudicated in a writ petition.
Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act- 1994 regulates the use of pre-natal sex
determination techniques. Though it permits the use of prenatal sex
determination techniques for detecting chromosomal or sex linked disorders only
by the registered institutions but strictly prohibits determination of sex of
foetus and killing of female child in the mother’s womb not only by the medical
practitioners, gynaecologists or paediatricians but also by any genetic
laboratory, counselling centre or clinic. The Act also bans the advertisement
using pre-natal diagnostic technique for sex determination. Section-5 of the
Act state that the pre-natal diagnostic procedure can be conducted only with
the consent of the pregnant woman and a copy of written consent is given to
Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act (ITPA), 1956 prohibits commercial sexual exploitation
and all cases relating to prostitution registered under the Act. This Act
defines a minor as a person between 16 to 18 years of age. The Act also says
that if any person over the age of 18 years knowingly lives wholly or in part on
the earning of the prostitution of any other person shall be punishable with
imprisonment up to 2 years or with fine up to Rs 1000 or both, or where such
earnings relate to the prostitution of a child or a minor, shall be punishable
with imprisonment for 7-10 years. The Act prohibits the activities relating to
prostitution in a public place or within 200 metres from a public place.
Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 prohibits the engagement of children in certain
employments and regulates the conditions of work of children in certain other
employments Section-5 of the Act makes provision for setting up of the Child
Labour Technical Advisory Committee by the Central Government and the Committee
is authorised to give advice to the Central Government in the matter relating
to child labour in occupations and process. Section 13 of the Act deals with
the health and safety measures of the child employment in occupations or in processes.
The Act also proclaims that if an accused employer is unable to prove that
children employed were not below 14 years, he can be convicted for offence of
employing child labour.
Juvenile Justice Act 2000 and Amendment Act-2006 formulates laws relating to juveniles in
conflict with law (juvenile who is alleged to have committed an offence) and provide
proper care and protection for children in need. The Act adopts child-friendly
approach by catering to the development needs of the children and their
rehabilitation in institutions established under law. The Act brings juvenile
law and prescribed set of standards to be adhered by all State parties for securing
the best interests of the child and provides alternatives such as adoption,
sponsorship, foster care and institutional care. This Act has been amended in
2006 to set up Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committees and compulsory
registration of Child Care Institutions. The Act has been further amended
in 2011 to remove discriminatory references to children affected by diseases
like leprosy, tuberculosis, hepatitis-B etc. As per new provisions more power has
been entrusted to Child Welfare Committee and Child Protection Units in each
district of the State to oversee its implementation and provide care,
education, training for rehabilitation of the children.
Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 came into effect from 1st October 1929. The Section 3 of the Act
declares that if a male above 18 years of age contracts a child marriage shall be
liable to be punished. The marriage performed in violation of the Child
Marriage Restraint Act is an unlawful marriage. Section 5 of the Act punishes a
person who performs, conducts or directs any child marriage shall be liable to punishment,
unless he proves that to the best of his knowledge the marriage in question was
not a child marriage. According to Section 6 (1) of the Act when a child
marriage is contracted person having charge of such child, whether he is
guardian or parent or in any other capacity whether lawful or unlawful, that person
is liable to be punished. The offences committed under this Act are cognizable
offences as defined under the Code of Criminal Procedures, 1973.
Institutional Frameworks for Child Welfare
Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up as a statutory
body under Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007 under the Commission
for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Act 2005 to protect, promote and defend
child rights in the country. The prime objectives of the Commission is to
review the safeguards provided for protection of child rights and recommends
measures for effective implementation, spread child literacy, enquire into
violation of child rights, look into the matters relating to distressed,
marginalised and disadvantaged children without family, children of prisoners,
inspect juvenile home and recommend appropriate measures. The Commission
undertakes periodic review of existing laws, policies and programmes on child
rights and makes recommendations for their effective implementation in the best
interest of the children.
Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) is a premier
organisation which acts as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Women and Child
Development Department, Government of India to promote voluntary action,
research, training and documentation on women and child development 1860 in the
year 1966. The institution was established at New Delhi with its four Regional
Centres at Guwahati, Banaglore, Lucknow and Indore. The thrust areas of the
Institute relates to child care interventions relates to maternal and child
health and nutrition, early childhood care and education, childhood disabilities,
positive mental health in children and child care support services.
Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is an autonomous body under Ministry
of Women and Child Development, Government of India. CARA which primarily deals
withadoption oforphan standards of care for children. The
Scheme for Welfare of Orphan and Destitute Children is a centrally sponsored
scheme under Ministry of Women and Child, abandoned and surrendered children
through recognised agencies. As per the provisions of Hague Convention on
Inter-country Adoptions, 1993, CARA is designated as the Central Authority to
deal with in-country and inter-country adoption of children.
Child Welfare Schemes
Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Government of India
for early childhood care and development. The prime objective of the programme
is to lay foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development
of the child, improve health and nutritional status of children below six years
of age, reduce infant mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropouts,
achieve effective policy implementation to promote child development and
enhance capability of the mother to look after health and nutrition, education
and other needs of her child. The international agencies like UNICEF, USAID,
DFID and CARE India serve as development partners to provide technical and
other supports to ICDS for its effective operation. There has been significant
improvement in the implementation of ICDS Scheme in 10th and 11th Plans
in terms of increasing numbersof
projects, Anganwadi Centres and coverage of beneficiaries, infrastructure
development and training programmes for field staffs like Anganwadi Workers and
helpers, Supervisors and CDPOs which are organised through district, state and
regional centres. The selected indicators are devised under standardised
Management Information System (MIS) and Central Monitoring Unit (CMU) which is
established in NIPCCD in 2008 for strengthening the monitoring system. Many
states have introduced state specific initiatives and good practices for
effective implementation of ICDS scheme. The strengthening and restructuring of
ICDS system has been made in the 11th Plan
to improve the system through multi-sectoral approaches to address the maternal
and child issues. The National Policy on Early Childhood Care and Education
(ECCE) is under formative stage which provides operational guidelines for strategic
implementation. The Kishori Shakti Yojana is an adolescent girl’s scheme
implemented through Anganwadi Centres under ICDS Projects. The objective of the
scheme is to increase self-confidence, boost morale and give dignity to the
adolescent girls. The scheme includes two schemes such as Girl to Girl
Approach and Balika Mandal Scheme.
Schemes for Health and Nutrition of
The Nutrition component of Prime Minister Gramodya Yojana
and Nutrition Programme for Adolescent
Girls is implemented with additional central assistance from Planning
commission to promote nutrition of children. A National Nutrition Mission
has also been set up to enable policy direction to the concerned Departments of
the Government for addressing the problem of malnutrition of children. The
Pulse Polio Immunisation Programme implemented by the Ministry of Health and
Family Welfare covers all children below five years of age. The programme
covers 166 million children in every round of National Immunisation Day. Other programmes
include, Universal immunisation programme to control deaths due to acute
respiratory infections, control of diarrhoeal diseases, provision of essential new-born
care, prophylactic programmes for prevention of micronutrient deficiencies relating
to Vitamin A and iron, Anaemia control programme, and Integrated Management of
Neonatal and childhood illness. The other immunisation programmes include
Hepatitis B, DPT etc. The Reproductive and Child Health Programme is being
implemented by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which provides effective
maternal and child health care, micronutrient interventions for vulnerable
groups, reproductive health services for adolescent etc. The programme integrates all family welfare
programmes of women and child health and provides ‘need based, client
centered, demand driven, and high quality services’.
The National Rural
Health Mission Scheme implemented under Ministry of Health andFamily Welfare seeks to provide effective healthcare
services to rural population including large population of children in the country.
The programme seeks to raise spending on public health and policies, strengthen
public health management and service delivery in the country.
Schemes for Education of Children
of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act came into force in
the year 2010 which provides the right of children to free and compulsory
education in the neighbourhood school which are to be established within 3 years
time period. The provisions relating to school infrastructure and quality
improvement in education of the children. The objectives of the scheme is that
all children to be in school and universal retention by 2010, bridging all
gender and social gaps at primary stage by 2007 and at elementary education
level by the year 2010. The Government of India is committed to realise the
goal of universalisation of elementary education by 2010. The Mid-day meal Scheme
is being implemented under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan Scheme which aims at universal
enrolment and Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR), training to untrained teachers,
quality interventions are prescribed under the Act. The Sarva Shiksha
Abhiyan Scheme (SSA) aims to provide free and compulsory elementary
education to all children in 6-14 age by 2010. The scheme provides school
infrastructure retention of children. Under the programme nutrition and snacks
are provided to the children attending schools.
National Programme for education of girls at elementary level is being
implemented by the Department of Education which adopts community based
approach for the development of children under difficult circumstances to check
drop out girls, working girls, girls from marginalised social groups, girls
with low levels of achievement to gain quality elementary education and develop
self esteem of girls. The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme
enables opening of special residential schools for the girl child belonging to
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes and minority in
educationally backward areas having low female literacy. The Schemes for
Providing Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM) is launched to bring
qualitative improvement in the Madrasas to enable Muslim children to attain educational
standard as per the ,national education system. The other programmes including
Model School Scheme (2008), Rastriya Madhymika Sikshya Abhiyan (2009),
Inclusive Education for Disabled (2009), Construction of Girls Hostel for
secondary and higher secondary schools (2009) are introduced to promote
education at secondary level.
Schemes for Rehabilitation
programme for Street Children by the Ministry of Social Justice and
Empowerment seeks to prevent destitution of children who are without homes and
family ties and are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. The programme
rehabilitates these children and facilitates their withdrawal from life on the
streets. The Integrated Programme for Juvenile Justice seeks to provide care
and protection to the children in difficult circumstances and in conflict with
laws. The special features of the scheme include establishment of a National Advisory
Board on Juvenile Justice, creation of Juvenile Justice Fund, training of
judicial, administrative police and NGOs responsible for implementation of JJ
Act brings quality improvement in existing infrastructure, expanding non-institutional
services like sponsorship and foster care as an alternative institutional care.
Child helpline is a
toll free telephone service (1098) which is run with the support of Women and Child
Development Ministry and is working in 72 cities across the country. Anyone can
call for assistance for the interest of children. The Child Budgeting
identifies budgetary allocations of Central and State Governments to address specific
needs of children through child specific programmes, identify major constraints
for effective utilisation; devises methods for tracking expenditure and
monitoring performance relating to child development programme.
of Child Labour Programme implemented by the Ministry of Labour, Government
of India sanctions rehabilitation of working children and elimination of child
labour. The National Child Labour Projects (NCLPs) have been set up in
different areas tom rehabilitate child labour. Under the NCLP special schools
have been established to provide non-formal education, vocational training and supplementary
nutrition to children withdrawn from employment. The Shishu Greh Scheme
is being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare to promote
adoptions of abandoned/ orphaned/destitute children within the country and
ensure minimum standard of care of children. The Scheme for Welfare of
Orphan and Destitute Children is a centrally sponsored scheme under
Ministry of Women and Child Development. The main objective of the programme is
to provide shelter, health care and nutrition, education and vocational
guidance to orphaned and destitute children within age group up to 18 years for
boys and up to 25 years for girls. In addition to this three pilot projects have
been implemented to Combat Trafficking of Women and children are
i) Combat trafficking women and children for
commercial sexual exploitation under sanction of tradition
ii) Combat trafficking of women and children
for commercial, sexual exploitation in source areas and
Combat trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual
exploitation in destination areas.
It is needless to mention that, though
India has a comprehensive legal regime and policy framework to protect the
rights and interests of the children, greater momentum is required for
effective implementation of these policies and programmes for well-being of the
children by improving their level of education, health and nutrition etc. Above
all a just and fair environment is desirable for all children at home, school or any other place, with
growing mind and body to see a shining tomorrow and ultimately to become
responsible citizens of India.
Chinmayee SatpathyThe author is Post-Doctoral Fellow, ICSSR,