The Ministry of Women and Child Development has drafted the National Policy for Children 2012 and is inviting comments from the general public. The draft Policy is placed on its website www.wcd.nic.in.
The first National Policy on Children was formulated in 1974. The policy described children as a supremely important asset and made the State responsible for providing them equal opportunities for growth and development of all children. The policy primarily focused on health and education of the children.
The revised draft policy reaffirms the commitment of the Government of India towards the children and addresses the new challenges, seeking to realize the full potential of children’s rights throughout the country. The revised draft policy recognizes the new challenges regarding children that have emerged with the advent of globalization and development and seeks to address the new challenges. It defines a ‘child’ as a person below eighteen years of age, and acknowledges the inalienable and inherent rights of the child and aims to realize the ‘full range of child rights for all children in the country’. According to the draft policy, ‘a multi-dimensional, integrated and inclusive approach is necessary for the overall and harmonious development and protection of children, which acknowledges their heterogeneity and different needs’. The policy also states that ‘children, especially girls, are free to express their views and their voices are heard and their opinions are respected in all matters affecting them in any way they are able to communicate, in particular judicial and administrative proceedings and interactions, in accordance with their age, maturity and evolving capacities’.
The Constitution of India guarantees fundamental rights to all children in the country and empowers the State to make special provisions for the children. Whereas, the Directive Principles of State Policy specifically guide the State in securing the tender age of children from abuse and ensuring that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner in conditions of freedom and dignity. The National Policy is to guide and inform all laws, policies, plans and programmes affecting children. All actions and initiatives of the national, state and local Government in all sectors must respect and uphold the principles and provisions of this Policy.