Every second child in the country is malnourished, according to the National Family Health Survey -III. Yet, the issue, described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh once as a “national shame”, hardly finds any mention in the manifestos of the country’s major political parties. In fact, children’s issues only get a meagre 11 per cent weightage in the manifestos of the top 10 parties.
These are the findings of a study conducted by Child Rights and You (CRY), an NGO dealing with child rights. “Children constitute one third of the country’s population, yet they remain one of the most neglected segments by our political parties because they do not form a vote bank. It is disappointing to see grave issues like malnutrition do not even gain an adequate mention in their manifestos,” Puja Marwaha, CRY CEO, said.
According to the study, while only four parties — Congress, CPI, CPI(M) and NCP — have spoken about measures to reduce malnutrition, the BJP is the only party to show commitment to eradicate malnutrition on a mission mode.
Manifestos of the Aam Aadmi Party, AIADMK, DMK, SP and AITMC do not touch upon the issue at all.
Only four parties — BJP, CPI, DMK and CPI(M) — have incorporated a separate section for children in their manifestos. However, there is barely any consistency in the issues covered in these sections, with some focusing on early childhood, others on protection issues, and still others only on education and skill development, according to the study.
“While it is good to see that some parties have included separate sections for children, it is disappointing that there is no clear understanding of child rights on the whole… it is shameful that Indian laws and lawmakers have not accorded them the status as citizens with their own rights and continue to talk about children as dependants and in terms of their entitlements with respect to aspects such as education, health and skill development,” Marwah said.
Interestingly, education and effective implementation of the Right to Education Act find mention in all manifestos.
“What is noticeably different from the 2009 manifestos is the aspect of quality education in the sense that there is greater focus on issues related to quality education,” the study says.
City court rejects bail pleas of LeT suspects
A Delhi court on Wednesday dismissed the bail pleas of two suspected Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) operatives, arrested on charges of planning to carry out a terror attack in the city. The court simultaneously granted time to Delhi Police to conclude its probe against the accused by May 7.
The order was passed by Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash. Accused Mohd. Rashid and Mohd. Shahid were arrested last year from Haryana’s Mewat region.
During the hearing, police sought time, saying one of the absconding accused Abdul Subhan, who was allegedly in touch with Pakistan-based LeT terrorist Javed Baluchi, was yet to be arrested.
The counsel for the accused moved the bail petitions on the ground that police were yet to file the chargesheet against the accused.
The court, however, dismissed the bail pleas and directed police to conclude the probe by May 7.
With the arrest of the LeT suspects, police had claimed to have unearthed a plot to carry out a major attack in the national capital, which they claimed was at an “advanced stage” of planning.