13.12.2006 Uncorrected / Note For Publication 7914
I Would like to congratulate Hon. Minister, Shrimati Renuka Choudhry , for her very progressive vision. At the same time, I would like to point out that it has been almost one year since the Act has came in to force. But till date, there has been no Commission that has been appointed. Unless the commission is appointed, the whole purpose of the Act becomes futile. Therefore, I would request the Hon. Minister to please expedite the formation of the commission.
The increasing rate in the economic growth of our nation he made India as one of the fastest growing developing countries in the world today. We are constantly reminded about the immense potential that lies within this great country bringing us closer to our goal of becoming a global economic super power in the near future. But what is the potential we talk about? When examined closely we see that the future of our country lies in nurturing and education of the youth and more importantly children of our country, for therein lies our true growth potential.
While there has been much to applaud, certain statistics regarding our children still stand out as alarming. About 40 percent of India’s Population below the age of 18years figuring as 400 million is the world’s largest child Population. About 50 percent of Indian children aged between 6 and 18 years do not go to school and 16 million children of India are at work. Children form 40 Percent of the total sex workers in India and 5,00, 000 are forced into the trade every year. About 3 percent of India’s children are mentally or physically challenged and one our of every six girls do not live to see her 15th birthday. Every sixth child’s death is due to gender discrimination. One is every four girls and one is every seven boys are sexually abused and 42 percent of Indian children will experience some form of sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18. There are four lakh child prostitutes in India and 44,000 children are reported missing annually. Over 100 million are forced into various forms of labour. All these children suffer from human rights violation, their right to home, education, and decent living. We, the representatives of the people of this nation need to take note of the seriousness of the problems faced by the children of India in all forms.
We hold our heads high as we claim to be part of the progress and economic growth of our country, but we bow our heads in shame when we hear reports of India becoming the pedophile capital of the world, where child sex tourism flourishes and where children remain unprotected.
Corrective methods must be put in place. For example , in case of sexual abuse of children, our law recognizes only rape as a crime, which by interpretation does not protect a child who is physically abused. This means that the child will never be protected until and unless he or she sexually abused.
Basic education is another area of great concern. A majority of public schools or municipal schools do not provide conducive environment for learning. Is a good quality education the prerogative of only the rich? A recent study conducted by the Times of India showed that 1,694 students from elite schools in Mumbai pay an annual fee of Rs. 64 crore. This amount virtually equals the entire Muncipal Corporations’ capital education Budget allotted this year for the infrastructure of 1,656 Municipal schools and Government- aided schools that serve 6.9 lakh children.
The 86th Amendment places the onus of a child’s education on the parents, making education the responsibility of the parents and not that of the state. This lays the foundation for inequality in education. The need to strengthen primary education is important to empower children, specially of the backward classes.
The Labour Minister recently has placed laws against child labour. It was very welcome that a law like this came about. There must be rehabilitation measures in place to ensure that these children who will be out of work are not on the streets and further exploited by anti-social elements. We need to take note that children are the most vulnerable and very easily exploited.
The statistics mentioned earlier are alarming and the numbers are growing rapidly. We must consider the social impact this would have on the future of our country as our efforts to protect and nurture our children are failing.
The National Commission for the Protection of Rights of Children will be welcome and a positive step towards a better tomorrow. But we have laws, policies and as many as 122 programmes and schemes to address their needs, but we still do not see any visible change. There are laws against child marriage, child labour, sex determination, child abuse and many laws which have the intention of protecting our children, but what we lack is the implementation.
We need to address the problems of the children as a whole rather than laying responsibility on various Ministries. For example, problems relating to disable children with the Social Welfare Minister, working children with the Labour Ministry; education with the HRD Ministry, while the rest are clubbed with the Ministry of Women and Child. We are very happy that the Ministry of Women and Child has come out on its own and got a Cabinet position, which gives so much power to it.
I would like to quote our Hon. Prime Minister as he addressed the Leadership Summit recently. He said:
“We need a polity which is inclusive, equitable, caring and just. We need a social order which every citizen owns and is proud of. These are goals which will take us to our destiny.”
I would urge the hon. Members of this august House to take note of the alarming facts and unify in taking corrective measures to address the needs of our children.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity.