Census of India, in the 2021 Census consider persons upto 18 years as CHILDREN

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Government of India has recognised persons  below 18 years as children for all practical purposes. The National Policy for Children 2013, the Child Marriage Prohibition Act 2006, The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 - all define persons below 18 years as children.  This is done in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, to which India is a signatory.

Today, all plans and programmes and budgetary allocations are made keeping in mind a vast majority of population of children below 18 years. As per the 2011 Census reports, the child population in India was around 39 % out of the total population (around 48 crores). This is the largest segment  of population for an age category which is the least i.e., 0-18 years as compared to around 54% in the 18 to 60 years age group (42 years segment) and as low as around 7% in 60 years and above age group (40 years segment).

The  popular perception of children  in our country are persons as young as 6 years and below. Some official documents consider children as below 10 or 12 or 14 years and some others go up to 16 years. However there is abundant confusion on this score due to the age definition given in the Census which is that of individuals below 6 years and reference to this CENSUS definition when data is quoted by the public, researchers, government officials and the media.This limits the scope and importance of enumerating and analyzing  child population and consequently effects any planning concerning them.

The Census Department is urged in the future to change the definition of the CHILD in all their data, communications, training material and publications  as ‘persons upto 18 years’ which would be on par with all other  legal sanctions in India. It also suggested that sub-grouping of child population within this age category such  children below 6, between 6-14 and 14-18 announced with respect to urban, tribal and rural areas along with sex break up, disability, literacy, labour, married and unmarried, education, etc.

Such a move would enable those working with figures on children to easily access data under 18 child population at the country, state, district, taluk, urban local bodies and Panchayat levels. This would revolutionise the process of future planning, developing plan of actions, fund allocation, programming and also monitoring the progress of schemes for children. This process would enable  the NITI Ayog, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and government administration to evaluate the status of children in the country and see if it is moving towards realising State commitments to UNCRC and SDGs. The process would also enable the Government, activists and planners to check whether violations against children such as child labour, child marriages, child abuse are on the wane. It would also enable the analysis of the fulfillment of education rights for children thereby  guaranteeing education for every child below 18 years which would greatly impact the development of our nation.

Come sign this petition to uphold EVERY RIGHT FOR EVERY CHILD. 

Vasudeva Sharma N.V.

Child Rights Activist