India has made an “impressive” progress on the metrics of child development in the last decade, but there is a section of children who have been “left out” due to inequality or lack of access to resources, a top UNICEF official today said. Deputy Executive Director of United Nation’s Children Fund Justin Forsyth while interacting with reporters here this evening also asserted that India can actually address the issues involved and become a “model for development” for the rest of the world. “We are impressed by the country’s progress made on so many issues related to child development. There has been a 67 per cent reduction in under-five mortality, stunting rates have reduced,” he said. “Also in terms of poverty reduction and extreme poverty reduction it has come down to 15 per cent from 29 per cent,” he added. A UNICEF India official said that the data quoted by Forsyth was taken from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). The figures he compared was from the surveys of 2006 to 2016, she said.
Forsyth was accompanied by India Representative of New York-based United Nation’s Children Fund Yasmin Ali Haque, during the interaction at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. Forsyth said during his visit to India he met with Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, Chief Minister of Jharkhand Raghubar Das and representatives of various private companies. “India has made a progress on various metrics but in some areas of the country like in Jharkhand recently, we saw, many children have been left out of the progress cycle, either because of caste discrimination or lack of access to resources due to remoteness of the area. “India has a dynamic environment and the Centre, state governments, corporates, civil society must work together and set an example for the world to follow,” Forsyth said.
Haque said it was also heartening that in many parts of the country, children were taking a lead in becoming a part of missions like the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission. The senior UNICEF official also said that on December 11 a global report will be released on the impact of technology on children. Haque and Forsyth both concurrent that child marriage was another problem that needed to be addressed. “In few areas of Jharkhand rates of such marriage were very high,” he said. Forsyth further said the issue of online child pornography and child trafficking were affecting societies globally. “Criminals are using e-transaction in trafficking of children. So, technology has helped us and so has social media, but there is a flip side,” he said.