Skip to main content

UNICEF comes down heavily on Gujarat's social indicators, says they do not keep pace with economic growth

By Our Representative
In a major criticism of Gujarat's social sector, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), has said that "from an ancient shipping power to modern-day industrial state, Gujarat is known for its vibrant economy", and "located on India’s west coast, the state has a bustling economy that offers families a per capita income which is higher than the national average" -- but as for "social development indicators" these "have not been able to keep pace with economic development in this state of over 60 million people."
Introducing Gujarat on its website, UNICEF says, "Almost every second child in Gujarat under the age of five years is undernourished and three out of four are anaemic. Infant and maternal mortality rates have reduced very slowly in the last decade. Also, the preliminary results of Census 2011 show that while there has been a slight improvement in the child sex ratio (0-6 years) from 883 in 2001 to 886 today, the overall sex ratio in the state has declined from 920 to 918."
It further says, "Although Gujarat is recognized as one of the most prosperous states in India with very good infrastructure of highways and ports, and strong petrochemical and automobile industries and agro products, a lot needs to be done to improve socio-development indicators. UNICEF works closely with the Government of Gujarat and civil society organizations to fulfill the rights of children."
In its "Challenges and Opportunities" section on the state, the writeup says, "Just like the undernourished children, one mother in three in Gujarat struggles with acute undernutrition. About half of these women are also anaemic, putting them at risk of problems during pregnancy, childbirth and post natal period." It adds, "Lack of awareness of proper nutrition is partially responsible for this situation; only about half the mothers currently choose to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of their life."
It underlines, "This deprives children of the chance to acquire natural immunities passed on through breast milk and makes them more susceptible to common childhood diseases. Older babies are also not introduced to complementary feeding at the right age."
Under the section "Key Challenges and Opportunities", it points towards following factors:
• Girls are still less likely to complete their education than boys.
• During summers, some families may be seriously affected by scarcity of water. Major efforts by the state have provided piped water for about two thirds of the rural population.
• The risk of faecal contamination of water exists, since many households do not have access to toilets. Household sanitation is a major challenge which needs to be addressed.
• Most villages have a primary school nearby. More and more students are being enrolled every year in primary schools and the number of dropouts is declining dramatically. Recent studies, however, show that the quality of education needs to be improved, with less than half the students being able to read, write and understand mathematics at levels appropriate for their age.
• There is a large urban population with poor social sector systems.
• Poor social indicators exist, particularly in the tribal areas.
UNICEF's action, in this context, is to "help" the state government draw up "strategies to fight childhood undernutrition and morbidity, which includes initiatives about the importance of breastfeeding within the first hour of a baby’s life and regularly weighing the child to monitor growth", the writeup says, adding, "Pregnant and nursing mothers and young women are being equipped with information on how to improve their health and nutrition. In collaboration with the state government, communities are being trained to monitor the quality of drinking water and disseminating knowledge about safe storage of water and hygiene behaviour."
For this, UNICEF initiatives include helping ensure that all children are fully immunized against vaccine preventable diseases, even as supporting the state government in effective implementation of the Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses(IMNCI) strategy to ensure management of common illnesses at home or timely referral to the nearest health facility.
On the nutrition front, UNICEF seeks to "encouraging regular growth monitoring of all children between 0 to 6 months of age", even as "reducing micronutrient deficiencies by promoting use of iodized salt, consumption of iron folic acid tablets by all adolescent girls and vitamin A for all children up to five years."
As for child protection, UNICEF it is seeking to establish partnerships with civil society organizations in six cotton-producing districts – Kutch, Vadodara, Banaskantha, Patan, Rajkot and Bhavnagar – to mobilize the community around protection of child rights, with focus on eliminating child labour.
On the educational front, it is helping the state government to "develop models to provide early childhood education for children between 3 and 6 years and quality elementary education through activity-based learning for all children between 6 and 14 years."

Comments

TRENDING

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

Over 3.8 billion animals at risk: India on crossroad in animal welfare practices

By Rupali Soni*  In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra have unveiled their report , "Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India." This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India's socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.

August 9 to be observed as Corporates Quit India day: Top farmers' group

By Our Representative A recent general body meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the top farmers' organisation, stated hat "there is no need for any illusion of change in the pro-corporate policies of the BJP-NDA government" following the recent elections in which BJP failed to achieve even simple majority. It insisted,  Prime Minister Narendra Modi "is hell bent" to continue 'business as usual' policies.

Maharashtra govt's proposed bill may be used against 'dissenting' journalists, writers, filmmakers, artists

Counterview Desk  The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra, strongly objecting to what it calls “repressive and unconstitutional” Maharashtra Special Public Security Bill 2024, has demanded the proposed law be scrapped in its entirety. In its Statement of Objects and Reasons for the Bill, PUCL noted,  the broad and non-descript label of ‘urban naxal’ has been used, which is actually a “common slur used for any citizen who expresses their opposition to state policy or is not aligned with right-wing majoritarian views."

Belgian report alleges MNC Etex responsible for asbestos pollution in Madhya Pradesh town Kymore: COP's Geneva meet

By Our Representative A comprehensive Belgian report has held MNC Etex , into construction business and one of the richest, responsible for asbestos pollution in Kymore, an industrial town in in Katni district of Madhya Pradesh. The report provides evidence from the ground on how Kymore’s dust even today is “annoying… it creeps into your clothes, you have to cough it”, saying “It can be deadly.”