By Saloni Mathur:
Dana Chungi, a place in the outskirts of Patiala, is occupied with the migrants of Rampur District of Uttar Pradesh. Houses built by the abandoned plastics and decorated from the scavenged material, the place seems like another city. Gauri, a five year old girl, barefooted, sun burnt skin, dirty unkempt hair, with a similar looking baby clinging to her chest, rickety legs and sunken eyes. In her tender eyes, I could see the future of India which as of now seems to be in an impoverished and malnourished state. Dirty, naked children would play outside their dark, gloomy ‘homes’. The homes are run mainly through male ragpickers who would leave their place early morning to earn money. Having asked, how much would they earn and do they bring food at the end of the day, I got a reply that they would come back late night, drunk heavily and would beat their wives.
Seven month old Neha who could hardly open her hollow eyes, underweight, stunned growth, almost invisible body, weighing not more than 4 kgs, running nose, is not the daughter of one family but mostly all families have one Neha among them in this area. A 45 year old lady who resides in a small dark house had nine children, two of them died at the age of three. An one and a half month baby weighing not more than 2 kgs having tanned body, with mosquito bites all over her body.
Having asked if any government doctor visits the place, the answer was completely negative. No clinic of any private or public doctor is available nearby that place. The people complaint there is a doctor which resides in ‘Mathura Colony’ which is far away from their place and they did not feel necessary to visit him as they have to walk down since they can’t afford any vehicle. Children with marasmus could be found in every other family. Rickets legs, brown hair are the only common feature which could be found in every other children. Their parents manage to arrange some food for their children but they do not know what and how much should their children eat. Childhood is the time for children to be in school and at play, to grow strong and confident with the love and encouragement of their family and an extended community of caring adults. It is a precious time in which children should live free from fear, safe from violence and protected from abuse and exploitation. As such, childhood means much more than space or time between the birth and attaining adulthood.
Despite of all legal approaches which our state has formulated ranging from Part III and IV of the Indian constitution be it Article 15(3),39(e), a bill on National Food Securities, a demand for Food Entitlements Act to Millennium development goals, Conventions on rights of a child, 1989 to Alma Ata Declaration, 1978, we still rank 66 among 88 countries as per the 2008 global Index. Infant mortality in India is as high as 63 deaths per 1,000 live births. Each year, around 4 million children die within the first 28 days of life — the newborn (neo-natal) period. In India, this number is estimated to be about one million, which means a quarter of all neo-natal deaths in the world occur in India. One of the cost effective and feasible interventions to improve the situation includes initiating breastfeeding within one hour of birth. About 38 per cent of children in the developing countries are initiated to breastfeeding within one hour of birth. In India 23 per cent of children are initiated with breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
Is this the future of future of India? Is this going to continue and remain the same? I guess, yes, if our law makers and the persons responsible for its implemetion remain silent and saying ‘kya laren yeh hi bharat ki sachchai hai’. I through this article propose a call for a change which our so called ‘well wishers’ have promised to make, to make our law functional so that these innocent lives have bright future.
Recommended reading: India Second In Children Suffering From Malnutrition: What Is Being Done?