Parents or guardians who ignore proper immunization or don’t provide food to their children may get penalized, if the new draft being envisaged by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) gets fortified.
The first national consultation on the draft of the new legislation sought to provide legal backing to rights of children under six years of age. The Constitution provides Right To Education to children in 6-14 age group but there is no specific law for children under six years of age even though the Constitution speaks of giving dignified life to every child.
“We have to come up with an enabling law so that promises made in the Constitution are delivered,” said NCPCR chairperson Shantha Sinha. In the new legal framework, the commission has recommended four suggestions —nutrition, health, special protection measures for children in areas of disturbance and right to early childhood care and education — under which rights of children should be protected. “Now we submit our recommendations on the new proposed law to the government for further action,” said the panel member Sandhaya Bajaj.
The need to have a legal framework was felt as even after several government interventions the country still grapples with low levels of immunization, access to health care and high levels of infant mortality rate. The states like Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have fared poorly on children development indicators.
About 45 per cent of Indian children are under-weight, the figure more than that for Sub-Saharan Africa. Analysis of National Family Health Survey II and III indicates that the malnourishment rate in India has fallen by just one per cent in the last eight years despite the government spending several thousand crores of rupees on Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICDS) and other child health schemes.
The commission says the Constitution provides for right of a child to live a dignified and healthy life but in absence of a legislative backing, the overall condition of children remains abysmal.
"The Constitution requirement has not been fulfilled", a commission member said.
The experts also made presentations stating how the new proposed law can make government accountable.