India Child Well-being report highlights that prosperity is not the only parameter for children’s development
first glance, the report on child well-being in India, released by World Vision India and IFMR Lead, speaks well of the state of India’s children, but a closer look reveals gaps in performance of even the prosperous states. Using the same methodology as HDI, the report offers a composite index for child well-being. While Kerala (0.76) and Tamil Nadu (0.67) have the best showings, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, known human development laggards, are at the bottom. The report also presents separate indices, and, here, some of the well-governed, and otherwise developed states fall short. The report finds that states like Maharashtra and Gujarat, which have high incomes (prosperity), fare poorly in terms of some indicators. Maharashtra (0.56) is at the 21st position, and Gujarat (0.55) is placed 22nd.
Besides, overall rankings do not directly correlate with performance on individual factors. West Bengal, for instance, is placed 11th on the composite index, but ends up having a higher position on the health development indicator. In terms of positive relationships—bonds at the community and other levels that contribute to a child’s well-being—Kerala slips down to 8th position, Maharashtra and Telangana perform poorly. Interestingly, six of the seven north-eastern states—excluding Sikkim—are in the top seven. In the third dimension, protective contexts, which observes children’s livelihood and its effect—from exploitation and education to adolescent pregnancy—Sikkim leads other states. The report, thus, highlights the need for regionally-targeted policy reorientation to better cater to children’s needs. To ensure that India’s future generation is physically healthy and mentally sound, it is crucial that states acknowledge and address the nuances of their strengths and shortcomings.