MUMBAI, NOVEMBER 26, 2009: On November 20, 2009, the world community celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. This unique document outlines universal standards for the care, treatment and protection of all individuals below the age of 18. It is the most widely endorsed human rights treaty in history, currently ratified by 193 States parties.
On the very same day ‘Ujwal’ was uploaded on the website of the government of Maharashtra. Ujwal, an e-newsletter is an initiative of the government of Maharashtra being sponsored by UNICEF and prepared by Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Balprafulta. On November 25, 2009, in the presence of Mr. Subhash Jhanak, State Minister of Women and Child Development; Justice A. S. Aguiar, Meenakshi Jaiswal, chairperson of the State Commission for Rights of Children; Mr. Sanjay Chahande, Secretary, Women and Child Welfare Department and Mr. Bajirao Jadhav, Commissioner of Women and Child Development, Ujwal was officially launched at the Mantralaya. Fr. Godfrey D’Sa, Director of Balprafulta: a child rights organization initiated by the Salesians in the Province of Mumbai and Mr. Santosh Shinde of Balprafulta who is also on the Editorial Board of Ujwal were also present for the occasion.
Ujwal is a letter of information and direction for government and non- government organizations. Around 3000 copies of this letter will reach people involved with working with children on the twentieth day of every month. Over the next year it will cover a vast array of topics dealing with child rights and protection.
India is a signatory of the Convention of the Rights of the Child since December 1992, since then, rapid economic growth averaging 4-5% annually has been recorded. Despite this marked progress, many challenges for realizing child rights in India remains partly because of its immensity, India experiences child rights deprivation in greater absolute numbers than any other country. Each year 1 million new borns die between 29 days and 5 years. Almost 55 million under 5 are underweight for their age. In excess of 20 million children of primary school age are not attending school. More than 40 % of the population currently lives on less than $1.25 per day and a staggering 665 million defecate in the open. Through Ujwal, the Child Welfare Committee, Juvenile Justice Boards, Labour department, Police department and other bodies involved with children aim to reach the grass root levels of society.
Mr. Bajirao Jadhav in his vote of thanks stressed that the civil society and government departments should jointly work to assess the issues affecting children at the state level as this would help to implement services meant for children. “This letter will have a broader reach and will act as a voice and beacon of hope for those working for children in distress.”