Women and children have a crucial role to play. According to a report by International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) India ranks 11th in top 20 “hot spot” countries for child marriages in the world, with 50 percent of girls less than 18 being married. Human trafficking and abduction top the list of crimes committed in the country. According to Child Rights Trust, 50 percent of women between 15 to 49 years of age suffer from anemia in India. According to WHO report, 43.5 percent of children under five are underweight.
Even today, female foeticide and infanticide are prevalent in many parts of India. Girls are sold to agents from different states in the guise of marriage and prostituted. Schemes like the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) offer services to mother and child in every village through anganwadis. Child labour is still practiced on a large scale in our country. Most of the rag pickers are women and children. For example: In an article ‘Invisible environmentalists’, Kalpana Sharma states that “women and children do the more hazardous jobs of sorting and separating the waste, the men deal with the dry garbage.
As a result, it is the women who are exposed to hazardous waste – none of them wear any kind of protective gear”. She calls them “silent environmentalists” because they work during the night when the whole country sleeps and are landless, homeless and sleep on the roads. She also mentions an example of how a 15-year-old rag picker and a woman were buried under a heap of garbage dump in Jawaharnagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad. This also brings out a point about gender sensitization in our country. Crimes against women and children are on the rise every second.
While this is the status of women and children, education is another aspect one has to concentrate on. The Right To Education (RTE) act that came into force last year made it compulsory for every child to get free education between 6 to 14 years of age. The government sees this as an achievement of its own. However, what matters is the quality of education. Government schools in villages do not have enough teachers. In some schools, one teacher teaches many subjects irrespective of whether she knows the subject or not.
The poor do not have enough money to send their kids to the school. For example: The kids in the border areas of the state face problems with the language because the schools in Karnataka-AP border areas like Bagepalli are Kannada medium ones, but the local language is Telugu. On the other hand, the schools in the cities demand high fee, and therefore, impart better quality of education. Unemployment is another section one has to explore about. Even the ones who are educated do not have jobs.
Forty million people in India are unemployed. India has the largest share of illiterate women in the world. The literacy rate (defined as those age 15 and over that can read and write) is 65.5% for males and 37.7% for females. (Source)
Even environment is one of the most significant areas one has to talk about when it comes to rural to urban migration. In the name of environmental sustainability, entire rural set-up is being destroyed. This can be further categorized into two sections: Farming and land grabbing.
Farming has been major occupation in India. But, in the past decade, 200,000 farmers’ deaths were reported. With this came food crisis, food inflation and “agrarian crisis” as if they are new schemes introduced in the country. A recent report by P. Sainath on farmer suicides stated that the past six years recorded the worst number i.e. 17,036 farmer suicides. Crop failure due to the entry of GM crops, less rainfall or floods or drought, infertile soil, soil erosion and many other aspects have take a toll on the lives of people in rural areas. (click here, read more)