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Manifesto of the not-yet-franchised

Aug 28, 2013

Young people, boys and girls, from across India came up with a 11-point manifesto reminding the government and the UN to move towards inclusive and sustainable growth.

A National Children Consultation organised by a consortium of NGOs working on child rights brought together Children from across India in New Delhi to press for inclusion of a 11-point-manifesto in the national manifestos of various political parties for the upcoming 2014 Lok Sabha election and the post 2015 Millennium Development Goals Agenda.

While the first phase of Millennium Development Goals is at its fag end, most of the countries have failed to meet their goals.

The manifesto also aims at reminding the government of its declaration of the investment of 9 per cent of the GDP to health and education in the Common Minimum Programme. It urges the government to consider putting aside six per cent of the budget on education and three per cent on health.

The 100 children at the press conference shared the difficulties they face in their schools as also in their communities. As Shiela from Chattisgarh said, “Teachers don’t come to school and discriminate against the students from the scheduled casts and scheduled tribes.” Children also stressed on nutrition, sanitation and safe drinking water.

The children observed that despite the significant growth, India has witnessed in the last decades, it still lags behind in alleviating poverty and meeting its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

A member on the expert panel, Ambrish Rai, expressed his concern about India failing to secure the lives and future of its children, 65 years into its independence. Ruing how discrimination was built into government strategies, he said, “Government provides better facilities in Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas and Sainik schools but the government schools in remote areas are ignored. They don’t even have the basic facilities such as toilet and drinking water.”

Paul Diwakar, Convener of the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, emphasised on the transparency of the budget proposed this year. He opined that the government should be made more accountable, especially bearing in mind that the plans for children are plans for a coming generation.

According to Diwakar, there needs to be more transparency on how money was being spent as well. Citing an example of the Sarav Siksha Abhiyan, the literacy for all mission of the government, he called for the government to make public the expenditure under various heads of the budget.

Dr Jayakumar from the World Vision said that the MPs were not being responsible. “As the Food Securiy Bill is passed, there are only approximately 300 MPs present. He asked the children to question their MPs about the promises made by them. “Embarrass the politicians by asking questions,” he said.

Eleven children from this consultation will participate in an intervention around the 68 Assembly slated for September in New York.

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