Stolen Childhood’s 2017 report marks India in position 116 out of 172 countries, noting that India has the world’s largest population of children suffering from chronic malnutrition – a population that matches the populace of Colombia – and disastrously low levels of primary education, coupled with extremely early parenthood – causing vicious cycles of intergenerational poverty and repetitive alienation from the society.
This is best evidenced by the enormous failures in ensuring the Right to Education and Right to Dignity for a large portion of the population who desperately need child support. And while these may or may not be down to poor planning, implementation and stagnant corruption under the watch of dubious politicos, the sheer size of the Indian populace and the magnitude of the problem in hand virtually ensures that governmental intervention alone will remain insufficient to curb India’s woes.
Besides such fundamental issues, the governmental expenditure on children at risk in India is woefully insufficient, given that when distributed over every individual child, this expenditure is insufficient to obtain for every such child 2 square meals a day. Today’s India represents a political stance far removed Nehru’s Fabian socialism. The current political mood indicates a violent shift to the right, freer markets and persistent encouragement for the Indian industrialist – welfare measure are only an attempt at posturing and winning vote banks, why are voiceless children relevant anyway? Who cares about child support anyway?
As a consequence of insufficient governmental intervention and child support plans – it becomes crucial that children in poor and marginalized communities receive basic support from the extended community – focused and channeled through local NGOs, community based organizations and local movements.
Action Aid India is an organisation that works to bridge this gap between donors or community and the services and support providers who can support children. Further, Action Aid is directly involved in running its own operations directed at providing child support, working with urban and rural poor, migrant labourers and Dalit communities. They especially focus on situations of abject vulnerability, specialising in interventions with relation to chronic hunger, disability and disputed lands.
What does sponsorship involve, and what does one need to know as a potential donor?
Firstly, the cost of supporting the most basic necessities of an individual child for a period of one month is approximately Rs. 600 – which is a meagre Rs 20 per day on average. This is normally set up using a secure Automatic Clearing House contribution – where the amount is regularly debited directly from the account of the donor during the stipulated period of agreement. This donation is also partially tax exempt for Indian nationals.
How is the money utilised? 80% goes towards grass-root interventions and implementation of initiatives. These initiatives support more than just the child you pay for, helping entire communities gain access to basic rights like food, dignity shelter and education. A further 13% goes towards supporting the frameworks required to implement these initiatives, while the remaining 7% goes towards mobilising further support to run the organisation
As a Child Sponsor, the donor is encouraged to maintain regular contact with their children through letters and progress reports – and is even welcome to visit their child – ensuring transparency and sound functionality.
More than 50% of India’s population is agrarian and it contributes to around 14% of the country’s GDP (2013 statistics). The situation of the sector can be judged by this statistics alone. Other figures demonstrate the position of the cultivators; there have been 1 farmer suicide every 30 minutes in 2009, and if we calculate an average suicide rate of farmers from 1995 to 2013, it comes to 42 farmer suicides a day. Hence, saving the farmer is a huge responsibility of the nation.
Circumstances need to change drastically; this sector which works tirelessly cannot be under such distress. Saving the farmer should be the foremost issue of the government and there have been many steps taken in this regard, but the results have not been fruitful. GM seeds are being provided to farmers, but they are not high yielding. The seeds are costly and get spoiled before time. Around 80% farmers depend on monsoon for good crop which has been widely affected by global warming. Therefore, they suffer huge losses due to droughts. Not just these, poor connectivity, lack of infrastructure and acquisition of agricultural land, are all reasons of the saddening conditions of farmers.
The Government and various NGOs work together for saving the farmers of India. Action Aid India promotes agro-ecological practices in farming, creates sustainable solutions, builds seed banks, educates farmers and preserves lands etc. Furthermore, the Government’s relief schemes, waivers, initiatives, and policies have helped improve the situation of the provider of the nation. We should educate the farmers, give them better technology and provide better markets for improving their situation.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela
Education is the basic right of every human being as it carves one’s future and is the key to success. Realizing its importance, Right to Education has been appropriately integrated in the Constitution of India as a fundamental right of every citizen. However, there are numerous challenges children, especially the less fortunate, face to exercise this right. Due to this, more than 28 million people in India are illiterate (UNESCO Report, 2015).
More than 80% of schools in India are run by the government and there are many discrepancies in their working and administration. Lack of teachers, uninterested staff members, acute dearth of facilities, insufficient funds to administer schools, poor management of books and meals and unmotivated students, are some of the loopholes in the government schooling system of India. Many villages do not even have schools, so the children have to walk few kilometers to attend schools and access this basic child’s right. Since the poor cannot afford expensive Private Education, so they are either left illiterate or at the mercy of disinterested teachers.
To make the world’s second largest populated country educated, numerous steps have to be taken. Action Aid India supports this Child’s right and works for the betterment of the society by rescuing street children and encouraging them to go to schools. They measure the quality of education among schools and provide scholarships, organize campaigns, provide basic amenities and much more, to improve the health of schooling system of India. Let us join hands to provide every child its basic human right and prepare the country for a better tomorrow.
Womens’ affairs in India:
Life outcomes in India remain highly dependent on gender, even today in the 21st century. Rampant casual sexism and societal images of the working man and the home-making woman continue to create an unhealthy cultural environment, while expressions of rebellion are met with swift smothering or even violence. While urban spaces are gradually warming up to the idea of women’s freedom – this acceptance is partial, and restricted to circles of significant privilege. The streets of our cities remain unacceptably dangerous for women and the winding lanes of our rural landscape lives deeply nestled within the status quo of patriarchy.
One major avenue of concern for feminists and activists in India is the right to inherit property. For a large part of India’s existence as an independent country, women were not eligible to inherit land – it journeyed patrilineal lines only. This is gradually being reversed, but the hangover of patriarchy still looms large over property inheritance and the problems faced by women continue to rise.
From these ideas of inheritance stem understandings of ‘worth’ – sons are more valuable than daughters, for they can keep property in the family – and daughters must be married off at a premium, for what else is a dowry? The institution of marriage itself is often a protracted agreement between two families – one which completely undermines rights of individuals to maintain societal images. The refusal to acknowledge marital rape results in marriage being treated as a license to complete sexual access and an abdication of rights on the part of women.
It is crucial that India works with urgency to delegitimize its structural sexism to curb the problems faced by women and create quality of life for them.
Start up India, Stand up India. This slogan has given rise to innovators and inventors of the country and women have fared pretty well. The percentage of women entrepreneurs have grown significantly during the past few years but there is still a long way to go to make our women shine on the world platform. Only 14% of the Indian businesses are run by women. Although today’s woman has strong business acumen and can spearhead large corporations, there are many hurdles in women running a business. They need to work extra hard to prove their mettle and there are many male dominated industries and jobs which consider less of women.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Rashmi Sinha, Sabina Chopra, Swati Bhargava, Radhika Aggarwal and Shahnaz Husain are the leading examples of women entrepreneurs in India. These superwomen have not just made us proud but have paved the way for young girls who aspire to lead MNCs and organizations. They have been role models and mentors to millions of aspiring women entrepreneurs and have tried to level the playing field for men and women.
Studies have shown that women can MANAGE more effectively and efficiently than men. Case in point, Vandana Luthra, from a home maker to a multimillionaire; she has single handly made VLCC what it is today. Ekta Kapoor is another businesswoman who has excelled in her field owing to her amazing leadership skills.
2011 census showed that a whopping 10.13 million children work as laborers in India. So, Child labor is not just prevalent but also a booming problem for the country. Child Labor is present in wide-ranging industries like, Diamond Industry, Fireworks, Mining, Shops and Establishments, Domestic Labor and even life threatening sectors.
These unjust activities inflicted by the affluent snatch away poor children’s innocence and force them to work at a tender age. To curb this social evil, the government has taken numerous steps and laid down varied laws. The fight against child labor began long ago, with the Child Labor (Prohibition and Abolition) Act, 1986. The road has never been easy or simple. There have been continuous improvements and amendments to the Act. The most significant step taken in this regard is the declaration of child labor as criminal offense attracting a rigorous punishment of 3 years imprisonment or Rs. 50,000/- fine. This stringent rule has helped keep a good check on the malpractice.
To make any policy a success, it is general public’s role to support it. We should make concerted efforts to Eliminate Child Labor. We should never hire children below the age of 14 years. There are various NGOs like Action Aid India which support the righteous cause. We should support these noble organizations and help them counsel children below the age of 14 who are working and encourage them to join schools. We can rehabilitate rescued child labor, fund their studies, provide them knowledge and education etc. We should all join hands and pledge to make India a better place for everyone.