- It has been consistently argued in these columns that the pandemic has left none untouched so unparalleled in the history of humanity. You name any of the industry or fields existing under the earth, tales of destruction and debilitating side-effects are dime a dozen. Don’t even think about the loss of millions of precious lives and livelihood rendering a humongous number of people grossly helpless. Irrespective of the country’s standing on the world firmament, whether developed, developing, and/or poor, are relentlessly reeling under the impact which nobody knows for sure when some relief will be blessed on us. The pandemic fatigue has set in everywhere making feel people anxious and nervous largely owing to all-pervading negativity beseeching the universe.
PC: Ray Comfort
- One of the least reported but hugely impactful narration playing out amidst the raging pandemic induced dynamics could be the unraveling of decades of social progress on many fronts including the most vulnerable and sensitive children who too are hugely experiencing monumental strains but unable to express the way any grownups do. The ongoing Covid surge is certainly posing a health crisis of historic proportions in the country needs no further emphasis or elaboration. Conversely, children are reeling on many fronts vis-à-vis missing out on vital nutrition and immunization schemes alongside school education is playing out big time massively impacting the young minds.
- As is the case with many fields, India’s malnutrition eradication goals too have suffered immeasurably while making children more vulnerable to preventable diseases. However, what is also most disturbing to comprehend is the pandemic induced poverty and unemployment affecting the families to look way out leading to a sharp rise in child marriages. Needless to mention, creating social consensus against child marriage has taken concerted and dedicated efforts of civil society and government bodies for decades now. Sadly, as the children have dropped out of education and family incomes have shrunk considerably, the distorted idea of girl children being liabilities has gained ground again.
- Data emerging suggests that there had been an increase of more than 33% in the number of child marriages between June and October 2020 as compared to 2019. Most disturbingly, there is inviolable evidence suggesting that cases of child trafficking and child labor too have increased manifolds in the wake of last year’s successive lockdowns. Imagine, what would be the toll following the uncertainty surrounding the future in the wake of the raging second wave. It is beyond comprehension to even realize the massive influence on impressionable minds. Make no mistake, frequent closure of schools has exacerbated the inherent inequalities in our education system with huge technological divides between the have and have-nots.
- Millions of underprivileged children have miserably failed to adapt to the new normal of technology-driven school education. In a nutshell, all the mentioned inequities mean that we are potentially looking at a lost generation of youth simply unable to achieve the desired development markers. For how long will it take to impact our economy and the society at large negatively in the years ahead only adds to our demographic time bomb ticking away ominously? Of course, the government’s energies are focused on triumphing the pandemic but has to make efforts at rescuing the children who have been left behind as well.