The UNICEF report of the state of Asia Pacific's children 2008 was published just a few days ago. According to this report 20% children under five who die every year are from India. The figures is staggering: 2 million. the report goes on to state: Unless India achieves major improvements in health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education, gender equality and child protection, global efforts to reach the MDGs will fail...as more services within countries are privatized and the government share of health budgets diminishes, public facilities become more run down and health workers leave for better paid jobs in the private sector or outside the country. The divide between rich and poor is rising at a troubling rate within sub regions of Asia-Pacific, leaving vast numbers of mothers and children at risk of increasing relative poverty and continued exclusion from quality primary health-care services.
It is a sad reflection of a country that celebrates three generations of freedom.
Our real achievement seems to have been a staggering increase of the gap between the rich and the poor. India is far from shining. The children of India are still waiting for an elusive Bill that will give them their constitutional right to Education. And while a city is gearing up to meet world standards to host an international sporting event, children are withering away in dark holes in a city that has forsaken its poor.
Can any society worthy of its name claim to be shining if its most vulnerable group remains neglected? I wonder. Children have no voice, and are not vote banks. Yet they need the maximum care and protection. It is not so in India today. Child labour is rampant, child abuse of all shade and hue unbridled and though politically correct statements are made by one and all, they are rarely translated into action.
Two million children below the age of 5 die quietly every year in India. Is anyone hearing.