Talk by Dr. A.K. Shivakumar on Child Rights and India’s Future

A talk by noted development economist Dr. A.K. Shivakumar on ‘Child Rights and India’s Future’ was held on 30 January at Magnolia - India Habitat Centre, as part of the Ritinjali Annual Lecture. The Ritinjali Annual Lecture, commenced with Mr. Arun Kapur outlining the theme of the talk -- Nation Building.

Mr. Kapur mentioned the importance of education in nation building and he quoted His Majesty, the King of Bhutan who at his coronation ceremony said "The future is neither unseen nor unknown. It is what we make of it. What work we do with our two hands today will shape the future of our nation. Our children’s tomorrow has to be created by us today." Needless to say that nurturing children by way of education, was set as the precursor to the lecture by Dr. Shiva Kumar, who focussed the quantum of his lecture, on education and the nurturing of children.

In what was an engaging and thought provoking session, Dr. Shiva Kumar spoke of India’s progress in every sphere of development especially over the past two decades; particularly in terms of economic performance, captured by the rapid expansion in incomes in recent years. However, the story of development when seen through the eyes of a child in India is bleak. Statistics and surveys paint a grim picture where the country has failed to address instances of rampant child marriage, child abuse, violence in homes, and incidents where children are perpetrators of violence themselves.

Dr. Shiva Kumar outlined India’s exceptional growth story and the general escalation of incomes and access to commodities. He linked economic growth to evolution of democracy and said that with time, ecomomic progress leads to better informed citizens, empowered voters and the emergence of such acts like the RTI. At the same time, he brought out the contradiction between human rights and legal rights, saying that human rights do not always translate into legal rights and we as a society must be aware of this. To example, he listed the well-being of the poor as Reponsibility vs a Right.