The special edition of ‘The State of the World’s Children’ – released here on Friday – notes that fewer under-five children die in India now as the national mortality rate fell from 117 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 72 in 2007

As the world marked the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child this week, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday acknowledged the measures taken by India to ensure that children can “survive and thrive.” But, this came with the reminder that India – home to one fifth of the world’s children – had miles to go before it can claim to have given all of the country’s children the rights they are entitled to and the rights they deserve.

The special edition of ‘The State of the World’s Children’ – released here on Friday – notes that fewer under-five children die in India now as the national mortality rate fell from 117 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 72 in 2007. More children have access to improved drinking water, rising from 62 per cent in 1992-93 to 88 per cent in 2005-06. And, more girls go to primary school with attendance rates for girls in the six-to-10 age group increasing from 61 per cent to 81 per cent.

Flip side

On the flip side, one million newborns die each year in their first month itself and another million die between 29 days and five years. Besides, disparities persist between social and economic groups and this reflects on various social indices.

Early marriage still persists with the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) showing that 47 per cent of the women in their early 20s had been married before they turned 18. This, in turn, affects the health of their children; more so since many of these women come from poor families.

Malnutrition rates continue to be very high and the percentage of underweight children in the zero-to-three age group was in the vicinity of 46 per cent in 2005-06 – down only by six per cent in 20 years — as per NFHS. Though sanitation has improved over the past two decades, reaching the Millennium Development Goal in this regard remains a great challenge.

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