The inaugural issue of the State of the Young Child in India brings to the fore the pressing and urgent need to provide primary focus for policy and programme action to this most vulnerable and critical stage of human development. With a focus on children aged under 6 years, it presents key aspects of their wellbeing and development. With the highest number of neonatal, infant and under-5 deaths in the world, there is an urgent need to address issues that continue to affect the young child in India.
The Report is prepared with the aim to bring the young child at the centre of policy dialogue, borne out of the conviction that each child has an inalienable right to opportunities to develop her full potential. This publication:
- Introduces two young child indices aggregating selected indicators to separately track child outcomes and child circumstances.
- Provides an account of the current situation of the young child in terms of physical and cognitive development, access to care, disadvantaged children, and major issues that have led to the continued neglect of this age group.
- Explores the policy and legal framework, fiscal space, and the role and obligations of key stakeholders, including the state, private sector, civil society, and the family.
- Highlights key recommendations and action points that can help improve the ecosystem for early childhood care and development.
The Report draws on specially commissioned technical background papers by country experts in varied aspects of the young child rights to cover themes of nutrition, mental and physical stimulation, safe and hygienic environment, timely access to basic services, budget allocations, and above all, love, care and dignity. Supplemented by extensive field experience of Mobile Creches in childcare, it provides essential insights into the approaches, policy constraints, measurement metrics, legislation, programmatic interventions, and investment of human, technical, and financial resources, identifying chronic obstacles hampering the complete development of the potential that lies in India’s children.
Positioned as an authoritative and latest resource for policy makers, child advocates, development practitioners, elected representatives, the media, human rights campaigners, education, health and nutrition activists, poverty alleviation architects, and many other co-travellers, this Report also places before its readers the unheard voice for the young child in India that cries out for informed collective action on multiple fronts. As an important reference for strategic and policy decisions, the Report suggests solutions’ oriented pathways for securing the rights and entitlements of the youngest citizens of India. It is now up to the readers to respond and galvanize action within their spheres of influence to address all the impediments that hamper the well-being and all-round development of the young child.