National Policy for Children, 2013
The Government of India has adopted a new National Policy for Children, 2013 on April 26th, 2013. The policy recognizes every person below the age of eighteen years as a child and covers all children within the territory and jurisdiction of the country. It acknowledges that a multisectoral and multidimensional approach is necessary to secure the rights of children. The policy has identified four key priority areas: survival, health and nutrition; education and development; protection and participation, for focused attention.
The National Policy for Children, 2013 is guided by the following principles:
- Every child has universal, inalienable and indivisible human rights.
- The rights of children are interrelated and interdependent, and each one of them is equally important and fundamental to the well-being and dignity of the child.
- Every child has the right to life, survival, development, education, protection, and participation.
- Right to life, survival, and development goes beyond the physical existence of the child and also encompasses the right to identity and nationality.
- Mental, emotional, cognitive, social and cultural development of the child is to be addressed in totality.
- All children have equal rights and no child shall be discriminated against on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, class, language, and disability, social, economic or any other status.
- The best interest of the child is a primary concern in all decisions and actions affecting the child, whether taken by legislative bodies, courts of law, administrative authorities, public, private, social, religious or cultural institutions.
- Family or family environment is most conducive for the all-round development of children and they are not to be separated from their parents, except where such separation is necessary in their best interest.
- Every child has the right to a dignified life, free from exploitation.
- Safety and security of all children is integral to their well-being and children are to be protected from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect, violence, maltreatment, and exploitation in all settings including care institutions, schools, hospitals, crèches, families, and communities.
- Children are capable of forming views and must be provided a conducive environment and the opportunity to express their views in any way they are able to communicate, in matters affecting them.
- Children's views, especially those of girls, children from disadvantaged groups, and marginalized communities, are to be heard in all matters affecting them, in particular judicial and administrative proceedings and interactions, and their views given due consideration in accordance with their age, maturity, and evolving capacities.
The National Policy for Children, 2013 recognizes that health, nutrition, development, education, protection, and participation are the undeniable rights of every child and form the key priorities of the policy with regard to children. The policy has identified four key priority areas for focused attention:
- Survival, Health, and Nutrition: This priority area focuses on ensuring that every child has the right to life, survival, and development. It includes measures to reduce infant and child mortality, to improve maternal health, and to ensure that every child has access to basic health services and adequate nutrition.
- Education and Development: This priority area focuses on providing every child with the right to education and development. It includes measures to increase enrollment and retention in primary and secondary schools, to improve the quality of education, and to provide education for children with special needs.
- Protection and Participation: This priority area focuses on protecting children from harm, abuse, neglect, violence, maltreatment, and exploitation in all settings, including care institutions, schools, hospitals, and communities. It also focuses on ensuring that children are able to participate in decision-making processes that affect them and have their views heard and considered.
- Children from Disadvantaged Groups: This priority area focuses on addressing the specific needs of children from disadvantaged groups, such as children from marginalized communities, children with disabilities, and girl children. It includes measures to ensure that these children have access to the same opportunities and services as other children, and to address the barriers that they may face.
The National Policy for Children, 2013 calls for purposeful convergence and coordination across different sectors and levels of governance in order to effectively address the needs of children. This includes the development of a multisectoral and integrated approach that involves the participation of multiple stakeholders, including the government, civil society organizations, and the private sector.
The policy also calls for the establishment of a National Commission for Children and a National Child Rights Council to oversee the implementation of the policy and to ensure that the rights of children are protected. In addition, the policy calls for the strengthening of existing systems and the development of new systems to collect data on children and to monitor the implementation of the policy.
The National Policy for Children, 2013 is a comprehensive policy that recognizes the rights of every child and the need for a multisectoral and integrated approach to address the needs of children. The policy's guiding principles and priority areas provide a framework for ensuring that every child has the right to life, survival, development, education, protection, and participation. The implementation of the policy requires the participation of multiple stakeholders and the establishment of systems to monitor and report on the policy's progress. The Government of India has taken a positive step towards protecting the rights of children by adopting this policy, and it is important that it is effectively implemented to ensure that the rights of every child are protected.