|Difficult Word/Phrase||Contextual Sense|
|Rehabilitation||The restoration of someone to a useful place in society|
|Hustle||to make strenuous efforts to obtain|
|Render||Cause to become|
|Orphanhood||The condition of being a child without living parents|
|Sophisticated||complex or intricate|
|Umbrella||Having the function of uniting a group of similar things|
|Adversity||A state of misfortune or affliction|
|Destitution||A state without friends, money or prospects|
|Foster care||Supervised care for delinquent or neglected children usually in an institution or substitute home|
|Realm||A domain in which something is dominant|
Care informed by data: On children orphaned by the pandemic
India must pursue schemes for rehabilitation (The restoration of someone to a useful place in society) of children orphaned by the pandemic
Numbers can often be hustled (to make strenuous efforts to obtain) to tell many tales; but it is the story that is picked on the basis of the desire to do what is morally right that sets the course for meaningful action. The recent Lancet estimates of COVID-19-associated orphanhood, which put the number at over 19 lakh children orphaned as a result of COVID-19, has raised India’s hackles. The Lancet study generated numbers based on modelling, and therefore only estimates and not actual numbers are available. Globally, it estimated that 52 lakh children had been rendered (Cause to become) orphans by the pandemic. The study, in its original period, March 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 was revised, with updates based on excess mortality and fertility data used to model increases in estimates of COVID-19- associated orphanhood (The condition of being a child without living parents) between May 1 and October 31, 2021 for 21 countries. Orphanhood was defined as the death of one or both parents; or the death of one or both custodial grandparents. The authors claimed their findings showed that numbers of children orphaned by COVID-19 had almost doubled in six months compared with the data after the first 14 months of the pandemic. India has objected strongly to the estimate of 19 lakh, terming it as “sophisticated (complex or intricate) trickery intended to create panic among citizens”. As per data collected by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and collated on the Bal Swaraj portal, the number of children orphaned during COVID-19 in India was far lower, at 1.53 lakh.
While the study does include revised estimates for all the nations, the message that it seeks to convey is the absolute urgency with which governments must incorporate childcare into any COVID-19 management programme. The state should proactively draw such children into the umbrella (Having the function of uniting a group of similar things) of care to save them from numerous adversities (A state of misfortune or affliction) — poverty, violence, destitution (A state without friends, money or prospects), and lack of access to education and health care. The Indian government, to its credit, announced a grand plan of support for children forced into orphanhood by COVID-19. Many States announced rehabilitation plans, including provisions for adoption, foster care (Supervised care for delinquent or neglected children usually in an institution or substitute home), education and health care; some admittedly more progressive than others, but the momentum was certainly built up in the country. It is time to update the status of such programmes, and information on the number of cases where intervention has occurred, and where it is pending, must be put out in the public realm (A domain in which something is dominant). Well begun is half done, but the Centre and the States must expand efforts. The Government would do well to allow interventions for children to be informed by a ‘whole-life” care paradigm, and fresh data from time to time, especially in a pandemic that is not only rapidly evolving, but by all accounts, is nowhere near ending.
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