India can become role model in growth of children: UNICEF

India has made “impressive” progress on the metrics of child development in the last decade, but there is a section of children who have been “left out” due to inequality or lack of access to resources, says a top UNICEF official.

According to Justin Forsyth, deputy executive director of the United Nation’s Children Fund, India can address the issues involved and become a “model for development” for the rest of the world.

“We are impressed by the country’s progress made on so many issues related to child development. There has been a 67 per cent reduction in under-five mortality, stunting rates have reduced,” Forsyth told reporters yesterday.

Poverty reduction and extreme poverty reduction had also come down, he added.

A UNICEF India official said data quoted by Forsyth was taken from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). The figures he cited were from the surveys of 2006 to 2016, she said.

UnicefForsyth, who is on his first visit to India, was accompanied by Unicef’s India representative Yasmin Ali Haque, during the interaction at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

Forsyth, who is based in New York, said he has met with Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and representatives of various private companies.

“India has made progress on various metrics but in some areas of the country like in Jharkhand recently, we saw, many children have been left out of the progress cycle, either because of caste discrimination or lack of access to resources due to remoteness of the area.

“India has a dynamic environment and the Centre, state governments, corporates, civil society must work together and set an example for the world to follow,” Forsyth said.

Haque said it was also heartening that in many parts of the country, children were taking a lead in becoming part of missions like the Swachh Bharat mission.

The senior UNICEF official added that a global report will be released on the impact of technology on children on December 11.

Haque and Forsyth concurred that child marriage was another problem that needed to be addressed.

“In few areas of Jharkhand rates of such marriage were very high,” he said.

The issue of online child pornography and child trafficking were affecting societies globally, Forsyth said.

“Criminals are using e-transaction in trafficking of children. So, technology has helped us and so has social media, but there is a flip side,” he said.