For the first time, the government is all set to define any individual below the age of 18 years as child. Till now, there was no uniform age bar for children in India.
Thirty-seven years after the National Policy for Children —the document concerning needs and rights of children — was first drafted, the women & child development ministry has revised it.
The new policy, finalized recently, clearly defines child as any person below 18. The move, ministry officials said, would go a long way in protecting the right of a child by making the uniform age of 18 years applicable for all policies concerning children.
For instance, it could make employing children below 18 in hazardous industries as illegal.
WCD minister Krishna Tirath said, “We have finalised the revised National Policy for Children to make it more contemporary. It has not been changed since 1974 when it was first framed. We will move a cabinet note soon for getting it approved.”
“It puts the onus on both the Centre and the state to ensure the right to life, survival, health and nutrition of every child in India,” said an official.
A National Coordination and Action Group for Children will be set up to monitor the progress and also to ensure that the principles of this policy are respected in all sectors in formulating laws, policies and programmes affecting children.