'Children in poverty denied basic rights'

JAIPUR AUG. 26. The stark inequalities based on religion, caste and gender and social differences in Rajasthan take a heavy toll of children in poverty, often leading to child labour and migration. These children are invariably denied their right to survival, protection and development.

The process influencing the deprivation of children in chronic and transient poverty situations in the State forms the subject of a pilot research project taken up by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) here. Two districts -- Banswara and Tonk -- have been identified to compare children's life situations and well-being in different geographical regions.

The two-year project is being supported by a British organisation, `Save the Children', to explore how childhood poverty varies between chronic and transient areas and find the short and long-term implications of key household livelihood strategies. While the tribal-dominated Banswara district is prone to chronic poverty, the transient poverty has been detected in drought-prone Tonk.

The advisory group and research team of the project met here today to discuss how the research could capture the nature of poverty as well as changes in its inter-generational transfer through a number of factors, such as education, health, skills, etc.

While the advisory group comprises the representatives of Save the Children Fund, UNICEF, Indian Institute of Public Administration, Sandhan, Vishakha, the State Government's Women and Child Department and the faculty members of IDS, the project team comprises three Fellows of IDS.

During the primary research, the team has found that short periods of poverty could have long-term effects and in some cases lead to life-long poverty. The preliminary findings in regions like Banswara suggest that there is less "consumption poverty'' in comparison with `social poverty'', as children do not go to schools and have little access to the health care delivery system.

The research team -- comprising Kanchan Mathur, Shobhita Rajagopal and Pradeep Bhargava -- observed that the rights enshrined in the U.N. Convention on Child Rights were routinely violated in the rural areas. Dr. Mathur said the genealogies and timelines of four villages had been prepared for an indepth understanding of the experiences of poverty of children.

While the life histories and case studies of children in the villages will be a part of the research design and methodology, the indicators related to children's development will be developed in the final phase. The Director of IDS, S.S. Acharya, said these indicators would provide new ideas and direction for formulating policies for children in future.

It was pointed out that the complex process of nutritional intake, absorption and assimilation concerning children as well as the dietary energy requirement in different terrains would be taken into account during the research, besides analysing the existing programmes for children, such as the midday meal scheme.

The Project Director of UNICEF, Shikha Wadhwa, pointed out that the health issues of children had always been ignored in the mainstream development policies. The experts agreed to look into the inputs of other agencies working in the two districts and include the psychological aspects of dignity and self-esteem of children facing poverty in their research.

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