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National Policy for Children

The first National Policy for Children was adopted in 1974. This policy was revised and replaced by a new policy in 2013.
The new National Policy for Children (2013) reaffirms the government’s commitment to the realisation of the rights of all children in the country. It recognises every person below the age of eighteen years as a child and that childhood is an integral part of life with a value of its own, and a long term, sustainable, multi-sectoral, integrated and inclusive approach is necessary for the harmonious development and protection of children. The policy lays down twelve guiding principles that must be respected by national, state and local governments in their actions and initiatives affecting children. They are:
  1. Every child has universal, inalienable and indivisible human rights.
  2. The rights of children are interrelated and interdependent.
  3. Every child has the right to life, survival, development, education, protection and participation.
  4. Right to life, survival and development goes beyond the physical existence of the child and also encompasses the right to identity and nationality.
  5. The mental, emotional, cognitive, social and the cultural development of the child are to be addressed in totality.
  6. All children have equal rights and no child shall be discriminated.
  7. The best interest of the child is of primary concern in all decisions and actions affecting the child.
  8. The family environment is most conducive for the all-round development of children.
  9. Every child has the right to a dignified life, free from exploitation.
  10. Children are to be protected from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect, violence, maltreatment and exploitation in all settings.
  11. Children must be provided the opportunity to express their views in matters affecting them.
  12. Children’s views are to be given due consideration in accordance with their age, maturity and evolving capacities.

The policy has identified survival, health, nutrition, education, development, protection and participation as the undeniable rights of every child, and has also declared these as key priority areas. As children’s needs are multi-sectoral, interconnected and require collective action, the policy aims at purposeful convergence and strong coordination across different sectors and levels of governance; active engagement and partnerships with all stakeholders; setting up of a comprehensive

and reliable knowledge base; provision of adequate resources; and sensitisation and capacity development of all those who work for and with children. The policy provides for the formulation of a National Plan of Action for Children and the constitution of a National Coordination and Action Group for Children to monitor the progress of implementation.

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