Is placed along with countries like Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana and the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao
While the world has made significant progress in child health, education and nutrition in the past decade, India has fared poorly among middle-income countries. It has been given a ranking of 112 in the Child Development Index (CDI) report released by the non-profit Save the Children. This is much lower than the ranking of 103 in 2004.
In India, 42 per cent children are underweight and 58 per cent stunted by the age of two, say the rankings. CDI was started in 2008 as a complement to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index to keep a tab on the progress in child’s well-being. The index combines measures of health, education and nutrition of 141 countries.
Each index is divided into four quartiles, indicating low, medium, high and very high development. While India is placed in the medium quartile in Human Development Index (HDI), it only qualifies for the lowest quartile in CDI, along with countries like Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana and the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao.
The figures show improvement in the scores of as many as 90 per cent of the countries surveyed. India is among the 14 countries whose ranking has dropped. According to the report, India is among the five countries, including Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and China that account for about half of the world’s under-five mortality figure. In these countries, the number of acutely malnourished children grew by 1.2 per cent during the 2000s. South Asia specifically has seen only an 8 per cent improvement since the 1990s in child nutrition.
“The problem isn’t the lack of programmes present in the country for issues pertaining to children, the problem is mostly institutional,” says Narendra Gupta, secretary of non-profit Prayas. “There is a deficiency of funds, and if funds arrive, they remain unutilised. There aren’t enough personnel and administration is poor. There is lack of conceptual understanding about issues such as these,” he adds. This shows how higher levels of economic growth do not translate into reduced child deprivation, especially in a country which made the least amount of progress in South Asia in almost a decade, says Gupta.
On the positive side, however, the report states that now it is more likely that every third child will go to school. Moreover, chances of an infant dying before his or her fifth birthday is now one-third less. On an average, the lives of children as per the mentioned three indicators improved by more than 30 per cent.
The best places for a child are countries like Japan, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Canada, Switzerland, the UK and Norway. The worst ten countries for children are Eretria, Mali, Sierra Leone, Djibouti, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Somalia. The report ranks the US at 24 and China at 29.