India: Child Well-Being Report 2019

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What is this report about?

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” said Frederick Douglass in 1885. More than 150 years later, ‘building strong children’ remains as crucial as ever.
Claiming a demographic share of nearly 40%, children (0-18 years) form a significant segment of India’s population and, therefore, a crucial determinant of its growth and development narratives. This report tries to show what child well-being in India looks like, currently. World Vision India, one of India’s largest grassroots humanitarian NGOs, and IFMR LEAD, an India-based research organisation which conducts high-quality, scalable research and evaluation, and evidence-based outreach to promote inclusive and sustainable development in India and other Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC), have come together for this project with the aim of presenting to the nation how its states fare in terms of certain identified parameters of child well-being, through a nuanced, interdisciplinary and evidence-based index.

How does this report define child well-being?

It is not an easy task to pinpoint the what, who and how of child well-being. Crystallising the key conversations around child well-being as a concept, process and a matter of right,
World Vision’s definition draws heavily from the ecological view of the child well-being, as well as the United Nations perspectives on the same.

This report aims to measure child well-being as a state of being that facilitates i) Healthy Individual Development, ii) Positive Relationships and iii) Protective Contexts. These three key dimensions cover most of the major aspects of child well-being, encompassing the areas of health, nutrition, education and protection. Focussing on the three key dimensions mentioned above, a total of 24 indicators were selected to develop the computation of the child well-being index. The indices and the scores on child well-being have been computed using a rigorous methodology that involved normalisation and transforming negative indicators to positive indicators – a method similar to the calculation of the Human Development Index (HDI).

What does the child well-being index say?

In the following pages, both the composite child well-being index and the separate indices around the three key dimensions are presented. The composite index captures the performance of each state and union territory on a composite child well-being score, with Kerala (0.76), Tamil Nadu (0.67) and Himachal Pradesh (0.67) leading the charts among the states and Meghalaya (0.53), Jharkhand (0.50) and Madhya Pradesh (0.44) featuring at the bottom, among states. Among the Union Territories, Puducherry led the way with a score of 0.77 and Dadra & Nagar Haveli featured at the other end with a score of 0.52.

The index also captured the status of states and Union Territories regarding each of the three key dimensions. For the first – Healthy Individual Development– Kerala (0.78), Goa (0.75) and Sikkim (0.70) featured on top, whereas Meghalaya (0.31), Madhya Pradesh (0.27) and Jharkhand (0.26) featured at the other end of the spectrum. For the second key dimension – Positive Relationships – Nagaland (0.84), Arunachal Pradesh (0.80) and Meghalaya (0.77) featured at the top and Haryana (0.53), Jammu & Kashmir (0.53) and Sikkim (0.51) featured at the other end. Finally, for the third key dimension – Protective Contexts – Sikkim (0.78), Kerala (0.75) and Himachal Pradesh (0.74) featured at the top of the charts, while Telangana (0.55), Goa (0.51) and Andhra Pradesh (0.42) featured at the other end of the table.

What next?

The India Child Well-Being Report gives a snapshot of the status of child well-being in each of the states and union territories of the country. One of the highlights of the report is that it has the most recent data and adopts a multi-dimensional approach towards measuring child well-being – going beyond mere income poverty. It calls for urgent and immediate action from the government and concerned stakeholders to focus deliberately on states that offer scope for improvement. The producers of this report expect it to generate further academic and policy conversations on the underresearched theme of child well-being in the country and set the ball rolling for further reports in the coming years. As an organisation that believes in ‘life in all its fullness’ for every child, World Vision India hopes that this report would set off conversations among India’s elected representatives, bureaucrats, media, private entities, academia and the civil society, ultimately helping it invest more in the lives of its 472 million children.