Children’s issues: India
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
2014-19: 1,265 children die
The government informed Parliament that a total number of 1,265 children have been reported to have died in the specialised adoption agencies (SAAs) across states between April 2014 to January 31, 2019. These institutions cater to children in the age group of 0-6 years.
Women and child development minister of state Virendra Kumar in a reply to a written question in Lok Sabha on Friday shared that the highest number of deaths over these five years have been reported from Maharashtra (172), followed by Uttar Pradesh (170) and Bihar (134).
As per the data shared by the government in response to a question from Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, there are 484 SAAs across states registered with the government as of now and 26,464 children have been enrolled between April 2014 to January 31, 2019.
While the scope of the Parliament reply does not cover details like age of children, who died, and the reasons for death, sources in the Central Adoption Resource Authority working closely with SAAs said that one of the reasons is the state in which the babies are found abandoned. Babies are left to die and are recovered with severe injures or sickness and this can be a trigger for death, an official said.
However, that is not the only reason, neglect and lack of adequate medical facilities in certain SAAs in some states is also a serious concern that is bothering the CARA top brass, sources said.
For instance, in December, CARA wrote to Karnataka’s women and child development department over high mortality rate and the pitiable state of children in a SAA and a hospital catering to children with infections and illness. CARA’s advisory committee members who visited the home have stated in their report that five children have died in the institution between March to November in 2018. CARA has asked the state to inquire into the matter and take action. Similar concerns have cropped up in the past in Telangana and Uttar Pradesh, sources said.
When contacted, CARA CEO Deepak Kumar told TOI that there were homes that were severely lacking in medical facilities and this needs urgent attention of the states. “The district magistrate along with the Child Welfare Committees and the district child protection units have the biggest role to monitor the functioning of SSAs. Inspections show that monitoring is lacking and SAAs are not putting necessary funds into medical care,” Kumar said.
SC: Paternal grandparents 1st choice for orphans’ custody
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said paternal grandparents should be preferred while granting custody of a minor child after the demise of his/ her parents as they can take care of the kid better than other relatives who also may have sought custody. Avacation bench of Justices M R Shah and Aniruddha Bose said grandparents are emotionally more attached to grandchildren than their own children and can take better care of the child despite old age. The court quashed the Gujarat high court’s order granting the custody of a fiveyear-old boy to his maternal aunt, while turning down the plea of his grandparents for custody. The child had lost his parents in the second wave of the Covid pandemic. The HC had passed the order in the favour of the maternal aunt on the assumption that she was better suited to take care of the child because of the old age of grandparents, who were 71 and 63 years old, and she had a better source of income and also because she was living in a joint family.
Disagreeing with the HC order, the apex court said that reasons/grounds given by the HC may be relevant but not germane and there cannot be any presumption that the maternal aunt being unmarried having an independent income; younger than the paternal grandparents and having a bigger family would take better care than the paternal grandparents.
“In our society still the paternal grandparents would always take better care of their grandson. One should not doubt the capacity and/or ability of the paternal grandparents to take care of their grandson. It is said that the grandparents love the interest rather than the principle. Emotionally also the grandparents will always take better care of their grandson,” the apex court said.
The court also noted that the grandparents were living in Ahmedabad where the child will get a better education while his aunt was living in Dahod, a tribal area. The SC also took into consideration that being a retired person, the paternal grandparents would devote more time and take care of the minor better than the aunt who is serving as a government employee.
“Income and/or the age and/or the bigger family cannot be the sole criteria to tilt the balance and not to give the custody of the grandson to the paternal grandparents. At the cost of repetition, it is observed that neither the high court has observed anything against the grandparents that they have not taken proper care of the minor grandson during interim custody or they acted detrimental to the interest of the minor,” the bench said.
2018: 1/3 children left there by single parents
Forced To Live Apart, They Hope To Be Reunited
Of the over 3.7 lakh children lodged in homes meant for care of children in vulnerable circumstances across India in 2016-17, over 1.2 lakh were the offspring of single parents. That’s more than double that of orphan, abandoned and surrendered children.
According to data collected from some 9,600 childcare institutions and homes between January 2016 and March 2017, single parents often send their children to care homes to ensure their safety and well-being. In such cases, the child remains in touch with the parent and may later be reunited.
Of 3.7 lakh children in need of care and protection, 5,900 children in the age group of 0-6 years were orphans, abandoned and surrendered. There were 50,267 orphan, abandoned and surrendered children aged 7-18.
States with the highest number of children with single parents living in homes are Tamil Nadu (31,098), Maharashtra (21,260), Andhra Pradesh (10,113), Karnataka (10,080) and Kerala (10,782). There are 65,962 boys and 54,096 girls in this category.
Shelter homes: AP, Kerala, TN have highest no. of girls
There were 60 children in the transgender category. While Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu had the highest number of girls, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra had the highest number of boys in this category staying in homes. The study busts the notion that children’s homes run by the government and NGOs are spaces for those normally referred to as runaway, missing, abandoned, trafficked and orphaned. Explaining the presence of children of single parents in such large numbers, the report said such parents often send their kids to care homes to ensure safety and wellbeing of the child. In such cases, the child remains in touch with the parent and is eventually reunited based on an assessment of the situation by the child welfare committee authorised for the purpose under the Juvenile Justice Act.
“A non-conducive social environment or the inability to provide for basic needs forces parents to take this decision,” the report said.
Former chairperson of a child welfare committee (CWC) in Delhi and honorary secretary of NGO Shakti Shalini Dr Bharti Sharma said many of these single parents who come to the CWCs lack social support systems. It could be a woman caught in commercial sexual exploitation in a red light area seeking support for her child.
Speaking to TOI, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said, “Many of these children would not need to go to an institutional set-up if there were alternatives available in society. We are studying ways to execute foster care and sponsorship programmes.”
‘1.8L living in childcare institutions as parents unfit to take care
An analysis of data from over 9,500 children homes from across India reveals there is a significantly large number of children housed in them whose parents or guardian have been declared ‘unfit or incapacitated to take care’ of the kids by the child welfare committee.
There are 5,291 children in the age group of 0-6 years and 1,78,885 in the age group of 7-18 years in CCIs/Homes who fall in the category where their guardians are unfit to take care of them. The number of boys was 17.2 % more than girls. “Amongst these, the child care institutions in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have maximum number of such children,” the report noted. At the time of the mapping exercise in 2016-17 there were 3.77 lakh children lodged across homes. The analysis steered by a committee set-up by the ministry of women and child development has been put out in the public domain on the WCD ministry’s website.
Children’s issues: India