India - Parliamentary (in)attention to children's issues

India Valay Singh Rai @gaonwalah 

So, just how many questions are asked on children's concerns and problems? An analysis done by HAQ Centre for child rights unmasks the pathetic reality: In 2015, only five per cent of the questions in the two houses in Parliament were about them.

A total of 27,879 questions were asked in Parliament in 2015, out of which only 1,421 were related to children. Do you reckon that 44 crore children and their issues can be justly covered by just 1,400 questions? I certainly don't think that's possible.

Let's look at what kind of issues were raised through this measly number of questions. The report says that "education continues to be the issue that draws most attention. 652 questions or 46 per cent of the child-related questions were on education.

The issues that have drawn attention are the drop-out rates and out-of-school children, drinking water and toilet facilities in schools. It is as if addressing the education sector alone will address all child rights related issues. It seems that for MPs all other issues take a back seat, including the malaise of the unregulated, and exorbitant private education sector.

Even though according to a government study more than half of India's children face abuse of one kind or another, the report found that only 24 questions spoke of child abuse, child sexual abuse and the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. And a single question pertained to "victim compensation". This is when the government was in the process of setting up a Victim Compensation Fund (which finally happened in October 2015).