Leader writer : Paojel Chaoba
Times are tough,no need to describe the sufferings of the public. The economic blockade still enforced by the UNC leaves us in a status quo. Among the major wants is fuel, serpentine queues are still witnessed and one has to wait long hours in the sun to get the rationed amount.
The unavailability of petrol creates a domino effect to the entire system. The education sector is also affected as school vans cannot transport students and private schools had to close down for the day. Similarly teachers find it hard to attend their duties due to the predicament.
Such issues need to be monitored by the government and at present it is clearly evident that the SPF ministry had left much wanting in its governance. The flagship schemes for the child, Sarva Sikhsya Abhiyan, mid day meals etc are aimed for the benefit of the child, but is much debatable if the norms so laid down under the provisions of the schemes are implemented in totality. The recent scam of an assistant inspector of Bishnupur district caught selling off rice meant for students by the school monitoring committee is an eye opener, there must be myriad similar scams being perpetrated, especially at the hill areas.
The implementing bodies of the government are there but the need for a monitoring body to assess and take preventive measures for the welfare of the child, a State Commission for Protection of Child Rights must be instituted at the earliest.
The Convention on the Rights of the child (CRC) was adopted as a treaty body in the UN on 20th November 1989. India signed and ratified the CRC on 11th December 1992. On signing and ratifying the Convention, India is mandated to monitor and enforce this treaty.
In 2011, we have a year left for India to submit its periodic report on the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 2012. Cutting closer to home, on just the surface of the point lies many schools, where children under 18 years of age goes, closed under the reeling crunch of fuel shortages among others. How do we explain this scenario in our various reports on the implementation of CRC, notwithstanding the fact that RTE 2009 has been passed, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is still in progress, Juvenile Justice(Care and Protection) Act 2006 has been passed with due amendments, Integrated Child Protection Scheme has been initiated and implemented with due budgetary allocations and many others which necessarily paves way for the best interests of the child to survive, to develop, to participate and to be protected, including special protection in situations of emergency and armed conflict.
Human rights activism in Manipur is not mere heresay and it’s a serious matter including those of child rights. Civil society’s reaction to the rampant kidnapping of children, closure of schools, trafficking have resulted in positive response even from the government in earlier years. Dissemination of information and awareness building amongst the stakeholders about the pertinence of child rights in shaping a better tomorrow has not seen the end of the day. Effective and strategic efforts define the working of many an organisation for children in a place like Manipur where children are often denied of childhood, be it be drugs, armed conflict, displacement, or simply failure of the governance system.
Juxtaposed with this impending emergency of bandhs and blockades, where children are consistently and continuously denied of basic health care, nutrition, adequate standard of living(read electricity), denied of the right to be educated, to leisure and above all denied of the right for their views to be respected or should we say denied of a space to be heard at all.
Where do we go from here? No doubt we have our Child Welfare Committees, Juvenile Justice Boards in place under the purview of the JJ Act, which the government was almost compelled to pass due to a PIL filed by child right activists in 2000. But that is still a limited arena for the varied and manifold spectrum of rights that need to be fulfilled for a child to live a dignified life and to maketh a better Manipur. We are aware that CRC is being implemented and the state government will endeavor to fulfill the rights of the child in all its capacity but who will monitor the progress and who will take compliance?
Significantly, the Commission for the Protection of Child Rights Act 2005 has been enacted and a National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has been duly formed in 2007. Officials from this National Commissions has come to Manipur to conduct public hearings to look into the violations of child rights and instructed the state government to take necessary actions. So far, 12 states have constituted the State Commissions for Child rights including that of Assam, Sikkim, Goa, Delhi, Karnataka, Bihar, Rajasthan etc. Manipur was one of the foremost state to constitute a State Human rights Commission, procrastinated on setting up the Manipur State Commission for Women and we believe that the State Commission on the protection of child rights will soon see the day once our legislators get pro-active on an issue which is so deemed necessary in our state, in our land which we know for sure that we do not inherit from our ancestors but borrow it from our children.