CHILD Protection & Child Rights » II. Child In India
Who is a Child?
Defining what age a person is or ceases to be a child is a constant debate in the India. The Census of India considers children to be any person below the age of 14, as do most government programmes. Biologically childhood is the stage between infancy and adulthood. According to the UNCRC 'a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier'. This definition of child allows for individual countries to determine according to the own discretion the age limits of a child in their own laws. But in India various laws related to children define children in different age limits.
The Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860 finds that no child below the age of seven may be held criminally responsible for an action (Sec 82 IPC). In case of mental disability or inability to understand the consequences of one's actions the criminal responsibility age is raised to twelve years (Sec 83 IPC). A girl must be of at least sixteen years in order to give sexual consent, unless she is married, in which case the prescribed age is no less that fifteen. With regard to protection against kidnapping, abduction and related offenses the given age is sixteen for boys and eighteen for girls.
According to Article 21 (a) of the Indian Constitution all children between the ages of six to fourteen should be provided with free and compulsory education. Article 45 states that the state should provide early childhood care and education to all children below the age of six. Lastly Article 51(k) states the parents/guardians of the children between the ages of six and fourteen should provide them with opportunities for education.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 defines a child as a person who has not completed fourteen years of age. The Factories Act, 1948 and Plantation Labour Act 1951 states that a child is one that has not completed fifteen years of age and an adolescent is one who has completed fifteen years of age but has not completed eighteen years of age. According to the Factories Act adolescents are allowed to work in factories as long as they are deemed medically fit but may not for more than four and half hours a day. The Motor Transport Workers Act 1961, and The Beedi And Cigar Workers (Conditions Of Employment) Act 1966, both define a child as a person who has not completed fourteen years of age. The Merchant Shipping Act 1958 and Apprentices Act 1961 don't define a child, but in provisions of the act state that a child below fourteen is not permitted to work in occupations of the act. The Mines Act, 1952 is the only labour related act that defines adult as person who has completed eighteen years of age (hence a child is a person who has not completed eighteen years of age).
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 states that a male has not reached majority until he is twenty-one years of age and a female has not reached majority until she is eighteen years of age. The Indian Majority Act, 1875 was enacted to create a blanket definition of a minor for such acts as the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890. Under the Indian Majority Act, 1875 a person has not attainted majority until he or she is of eighteen years of age. This definition of a minor also stands for both the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. Muslim, Christian and Zoroastrian personal law also upholds eighteen as the age of majority. The first Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 defined a boy child as below sixteen years of age and a girl child as below eighteen years of age. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 has changed the definition of child to any person who has not completed eighteen years of age.
Because of its umbrella clauses and because it is the latest law to be enacted regarding child rights and protection, many are of the opinion that the definition of child found in the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 should be considered the legal definition for a child in all matters.
How many children are there in India?
India with 1.21 billion people constitutes as the second most populous country in the world, while children represents 39% of total population of the country.
Age group of India’s Children *
The figures show that the larger number of about 29 percent constitutes Children in the age between 0-5 years. The share of Children (0-6 years) in the total population has showed a decline of 2.8 points in 2011, compared to Census 2001. The children's population (0-18) is 472 million.
Age group VS Gender of India’s Children *
While an absolute increase of 181 million in the country’s population has been recorded during the decade 2001-2011, there is a reduction of 5.05 millions in the population of children aged 0-6 years during 2010-11. The decline in male children is 2.06 million and in female children is 2.99 millions. The share of Children (0-6 years) in the total population has showed a decline of 2.8 points in 2011, compared to Census 2001 and the decline was sharper for female children than male children in the age group 0-6 years.
Gender of India’s Children *
The number of boys has dropped 2.42 per cent and that of girls 3.80 per cent. Population (0-6 years) 2001-2011 registered minus (-) 3.08 percent growth with minus (-)2.42 for males and -3.80 for females. The proportion of Child Population in the age group of 0-6 years to total population is 13.1 percent while the corresponding figure in 2001 was 15.9 percent. The decline has been to the extent of 2.8 points.
Rural - Urban Distribution of Children Population *
State wise distribution of Children’s population *
Uttar Pradesh (19.27%) is the state with highest children’s population in the country followed by Bihar (10.55 %), Maharashtra (8.15 %), West Bengal (6.81 %) and Madhya Pradesh (6.46%) constitutes 52% of Children’s population in the country.
State wise and Gender wise distribution of Children’s population *
Male – Female Children’s Ratio *
The Child gender Ratio in the country has declined.
Gender wise Adult V/S Children *
Gender wise distribution of Rural - Urban Children Population *
Age distribution of Rural & Urban population *
Comparison of Adult and Children population in Rural and Urban India *