Be polite to the poor children – they are not deprived by choice but by chance..
By Pavan Kaushik
Vedanta is spearheading a global campaign towards ‘care for the underprivileged children in India’. The campaign launched with a thought that Government, companies or NGOs cannot do it alone and individuals need to come forward and participate towards this national problem. India is current passing through a phase where almost 50% population is below the adult-hood age. Most of these children belong to poor families or underprivileged families and thus these children suffer from malnutrition, lack of health facilities and lack of education. Tomorrow, when these children would grow into adults, with no skills to earn or be productive citizens of the country, they would only be adding to the underprivileged population of India. What is their future ?
The development agenda that the government drives through annual plans, five-years plans etc., would come for a major hit. It is in the interest of the nation and for our own well-being to ensure that these children become productive citizens of India.
With this thought, Vedanta started their first social media campaign “Khushi” through blog www.khushi-creatinghappiness.blogspot.in and through facebook www.facebook.com/groups/vedantakhushi.
The campaign “Khushi” is a non-funding campaign that encourages people to come forward and understand the problem and take individual steps for the probable solutions. As the campaign began members from all walks of society joined instantly the “Khushi” group and spreading further message. In no time the group has grown to about 22,000 members – who are professors, teachers, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, college students, management graduates, journalists, social workers, NGOs, and other people.
Through active participation and intense discussions in ‘Khushi Group’, the first evident change that has been seen is, the change in “temperament of people”. Many people have informed that they no more shout at poor children and try to do something constructive for them. “Be polite with the poor children – they are not deprived by choice but by chance..”
Post launching of campaign, some of the tangible steps taken by people include sponsoring education of children of the people who work in their houses, Some members have employed parents of children who beg on the streets or traffic-lights. Some have gone for adoption. Some have come forward in educating the street children in their spare time. Some are engaged in regularly providing medical check-ups and nutrition to these children and some are contributing in any social activity that is related to the development of these children. There are many companies who have been taking care of underprivileged children in their own way. People are joining and the message is spreading. The campaign is gaining momentum.
There have been over 60 posts on the blog which highlight participation by individuals towards the cause. The blog is touching 45,000 page views in no time and is growing. The real-life stories on the blog are motivating others to give similar contribution.
With time there has been need to discuss critical issues and the “Khushi” platform brought in those issues for discussions and debates. Some of the issues like problems relating to education for street children, menace of child beggary, increasing drop-out in rural schools, infrastructure in rural schools, problem of children involved in making crackers, teachers problem in rural schools etc.. The discussions have brought out very positive solutions which individuals and companies for compliance.
The company Vedanta is contributing in its own way. The company is already looking after over 5,000 child care centres (Anganwadi Centres) in Rajasthan, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Karnataka by way of providing supplementary diet, regular health check-ups of the children. These children are being taught through play-way method to keep the interests alive. There has been a considerable change in their health, weight and knowledge. Recently, 9,000 such children have been sent to formal schools and 100 tribal children have also been graduated to formal schools, which was a dream for them.
Keeping the problem of children of migratory parents, Vedanta got associated with a local NGO in Tamil Nadu and able to provide help to 700 children of migratory parents who have come for work in Nilgiri area. “Khushi” also tied up for the free lip cleft and palate operations for 2500 children with Smile Train organization of US and American GBH Hospital in Udaipur. The average spent by a patient on such operation is about Rs. 12-15,000, which now would be done free of cost.
The company has constructed 8 hi-tech mid-day mean kitchens – 6 in Rajasthan, 1 in Chattisgarh and 1 in Orissa which are being run in association with State Governments and are providing hot mid-day meal to about 250,000 rural poor children every day covering about 2700 schools.
With largest children population in the world, larger than China, and almost 1/3rd of world’s malnourished children in the world living in India alone, the country is indeed in an alarming situation today. 8 million children in India, in the age group of 5-14 years are engaged in work. If we go by UNICEF report, India also has about 11 million street children and metros are leading these figures, with Delhi housing over 100,000 such children alone. 20% of the child deaths in the world happen in India.
India also has 2nd largest educational system in the world. Though, with a total enrolment of 114.6 million at primary and 41.3 million at upper primary level schools, India has shown remarkable improvement in the education enrollment scorecard. But when it comes to sustaining it, the country’s biggest challenge is increasing number of children who drop out from the school. This population was as huge as 8.1 million in 2008. Worse is out of 8.1 million children more than 2/3rd are girls.
We need to get to the bottom of the problem to resolve the issues. It is time to wake up and make a conscious effort to ensure a bright future for millions of these underprivileged children in India.
Individual efforts is what the country requires today. Spread awareness and motivate others.. is what “Khushi” says. Share and Care is what needs to bring “Khushi” on the faces of millions of these children.