This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.
According to a report published by The Lancet, during the pandemic, almost 15 lakh children have lost a parent or guardian to the COVID-19.
Similarly, in India, 1,86,972 lakh children have lost at least one parent, guardian, relative or both of their parents to the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of this, 1,16,263 children have lost either any of their parents or both. And the rest of the children lost either one grandparent or any of their elderly relatives who may have been their primary or secondary caregiver.
During the peak of the second wave of the pandemic, the number of newly orphaned children increased rapidly. According to the report, the number increased almost 8.5 fold only during the second wave. The researchers also warned that these children were very vulnerable and at increased risk of physical abuse and sexual violence, different types of diseases and adolescent pregnancy.
The central government has announced several initiative measures for children who lost their parents and guardians due to the pandemic. All children who have lost both or surviving parents, adoptive parents or legal guardians due to the pandemic will be taken care of by the PM CARES for Children Scheme.
Benefits Of Central Initiatives
Children who lost their parents will get monthly allowances once they turn 18 and a fund of ₹10 lakhs when they are 23 years old from PM CARES.
Free education will be provided to all the children who lost their parents to COVID-19.
The children will get relaxation while applying for loans for higher education and PM CARES will pay interest on the loan.
Additionally, they will also get the benefits of free health insurance of ₹5 lakhs under Ayushman Bharat till they are 18 and the premium of the health insurance will be paid by PM CARES.
The central government also declared the provision of fixed deposit for the children who have lost their parents to COVID-19:
The PM CARES will contribute through a specially designed scheme to create a total of ₹10 lakhs for each child when they reach 18 years of age.
This money will be used to give monthly support from 18 years of age for the next 5 years to take care of their requirements during higher education. On reaching 23 years, they will get the corpus amount as one lump sum for personal and professional use.
Along with that, children under the age of 10 years will get admitted to the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or any Private School as a day scholar.
And if a child is admitted to a private school, then the school fees according to the RTE (Right to Education) norms will be paid from the PM CARES. It will also bear the expenditure on uniforms, textbooks and notebooks.
For higher education:
The central government will provide assistance in obtaining educational and professional loans for higher education within the country as per the existing education loan norms. And the interest will be paid by the centre from the fund of PM CARES.
As per government norms, scholarships equivalent to tuition fees or course fees for UG vocational courses will be provided to such children under state and central government.
Those students who don’t come under the guidelines of this scholarship scheme will get scholarships from PM CARES.
For health insurance:
All the orphaned children who have lost their parents will be enrolled under the central scheme of the Ayushman Bharat Scheme (PM-JAY) with a health insurance cover of the amount of ₹5 lakhs. The premium amount of these health insurance for the children will be paid by PM CARES till they turn 18 years old.
Initiatives Provided By States
The Maharashtra state government has announced a scheme of financial help or support for children who have lost their parents and guardians due to COVID- 19. Under this scheme, a total of ₹5 lakhs per child will be set up as a fixed deposit. And this amount will be handed over to the child after they are 21 years old.
The scheme will also cover those below 18 years who have lost both parents due to COVID-19 since 1 March, 2020. Children who had already lost one parent or the surviving parents to COVID-19 will also get benefits from this scheme.
This will be an addition to the special PM CARES initiative announced by the centre to support the orphan.
The UP government also launched an initiative for children in distress. This initiative is also known as Mukhya Mantri Bal Seva Yojana.
Under this initiative, a monthly allowance of ₹4,000 will be given for their education and other nutritional needs until adulthood.
Similarly, the Kerala government will also give a monthly allowance of ₹2,000 until the child’s 18th birthday.
Additionally, they will also provide a lump sum amount of ₹3,00,000 as immediate aid.
The initiative announced by the Karnataka government is also known as Bal Seva Scheme.
A monthly allowance of ₹3,500 will be granted to children below the age of 10. They will get free education in residential schools.
Additionally, a girl child will get ₹1 lakh of financial assistance.
The Uttarakhand government announced Vatsalya Yojana.
Under this program, the government will bear all the expenses of the individual till they are 21.
Along with that, the state government will provide all kinds of reservations in the state government jobs for the children who lost their parents.
A monthly allowance of ₹3,000 will also be given to the children.
The Tamil Nadu state government has constructed a special committee under the district collectors to evaluate these situations and the honest functioning of the governmental initiatives.
An ₹5 lakhs of monetary assistance will be provided to those who lost both of their parents.
The state will bear all the expenses towards their education till they completed their graduation.
Additionally, it will also provide government homes, hostels and other facilities to those who have lost their parents.
Similarly, monthly allowances of ₹3,000 will be given to both who lost their parents and who are growing up with the support of a relative or guardian.
In addition to that, new scholarships, facilities will be given to them.
The Rajasthan state government announced Mukhyamantri Corona Bal Kalyan Yojana.
The state government will give ₹1 lac as an immediate grant.
In addition to that, they will be provided ₹2,500 a month till the individual attains 18 years of age.
Along with that, a total amount of ₹1 lakh and a pension of ₹1,500 per month will be given to the women whose husbands succumbed to the infection.
The state government will keep girls’ education on its priority list. And special attention will be given to the college admission of girls.
The state government will provide ₹1,000 per month to the girl child for the expenses of school books, notebooks and dresses.
₹2,500 per month will be given to widows who have lost their husbands in this pandemic.
Girl students who lost their parents or guardians will be accommodated to the hostels run by the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment.
The Bihar government also announced an initiative named Bal Sahayata Yojana.
Under this scheme, ₹1,500 will be given till the child turns 18.
Additionally, orphans without any guardians will be taken to children’s homes and girls will get admission to Kasturba Gandhi Balika Residential School.
Delhi-NCR and Haryana also announced similar measures for children who lost their parents to COVID-19.
Likewise, Assam, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and other states have announced financial assistance for orphan children.
The government of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh also announced financial support and assistance to the orphans. These states will also provide free education to the children who have lost their parents to the pandemic.
It’s been 2 months since the central and state governments declared different initiatives for orphans. However, the progress of these projects in different states is very slow.
Few states have just begun their data collection, while few other states have begun the registration process. The education of the young masses is very crucial and the initiatives which are declared by the state and central government are very good. But it requires rapid implementation so that maximum children will benefit from it.
While financial assistance through the scheme marks a promise of a secure future, it is also crucial to develop robust monitoring mechanisms and clear implementation guidance to ensure every child is benefited from the schemes.