A consolidated report on the situation of vulnerable and excluded children from Eastern India comprising six states and one union territory (Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sikkim, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh) was presented at the East Indian Regional Conference on ‘Children in Difficult Circumstances’ organised by Plan India. Experts from various state institutes, UN bodies and Civil Society Organisations participated in the discussion.
The findings of the eastern regional consultation will be part of the National Conference on Children in Difficult Circumstances in November 2016 in New Delhi. The conference will provide a unique opportunity to child rights organisations, development practitioners, researchers and policy makers across India to deliberate on issues relating to the numerous problems faced by children and the commitments via practices, programmes, policies and investment required to address these.
Children in difficult circumstances comprise of children living on the streets and working, children affected by HIV/AIDS, victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, children of female sex workers and child labourers. Millions of children continue to be denied their basic rights and entitlements such as food, shelter, education, medical care, protection and security owing to their situation.
As per current statistics, 23 million children below the age of six years are malnourished (ICDS Status Report), 19 million children are living and working on the urban streets of India (UNHCHR Report) and 4.3 million children remain still employed as child labourers (2011 Census of India).
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Pradeep Narayanan, Director, Programme Strategy and Policy, Plan India said, “Plan India, through its programmes and project interventions attempts to highlight and ensure the access of their rights and entitlements of children who face multiple deprivation and vulnerabilities owing to their circumstances. Among the groups that Plan India has worked with are : Child labourers, Children of Female Sex Workers, Street and Working Children, Children Affected by HIV/AIDS (CABA) and Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking (VOCSETs), children with disabilities, children from tribal communities.”
The consultation was organised by Plan India, a leading NGO working on child development in partnership with Child in Need Institute (CINI). Distinguished delegates included – Shashi Panja, Minister-in-Charge, Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Government of West Bengal, Arti Kujur, Chairperson, Jharkhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, N.G. Hira, IAS,Commissioner and Director, ICDS, Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Richa Mishra, IFS, Director, Directorate of Child Rights and Trafficking, Government of West Bengal, Kalyan Rath, Deputy Secretary, Child Welfare and Women and Child Development, Government of Odisha, Subrato Roy Gupta, Scientist National Informatics Centre, Shanti Kindo, Member, Child Labour Commission, Government of Jharkhand, Roshni Sen, IAS, Secretary, Child Development Department and Women Development and Social welfare Department, Govt of West Bengal, Imamuddin Ahmad, Director, Department of Social Welfare, Bihar.
Dr. Samir Chaudhuri, Director, CINI said, “This workshop is a platform to bring together policy makers, planners and implementers from both government as well as civil society groups to share their experiences of various programmes preventing child marriage, child labour, missing and runaway children.”
The consultation also reviewed the existing best practices, effectiveness of government policies, legislation and programmes in addressing the rights and entitlements of the most vulnerable children. The participants discussed about multiple causes and situations leading to increased vulnerabilities and denial of rights to children and attempted to find possible solutions to these problems.
Participants acknowledged that promoting knowledge management and collaborative processes, including research are important drivers in influencing policies, practices and investment to improve the lives of children in difficult circumstances.