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[Yojana Archive] Safeguarding Children

May 2022

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Context

  • India has 2.96 crore orphaned or abandoned children, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development reported in its annual report for 2020-21 that there were 2.56 lakh children living in 7,164 child care institutions (CCIs) across the country.
  • 1.45 lakh children were reunited with their birth families after the Supreme Court ordered states to investigate the possibility of reuniting these children in care institutions with their birth families as a pandemic precaution.

Adoption Laws in India

(A) The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA)

  • A Hindu parent or guardian can place a child for adoption with another Hindu parent under the Act.
  • A prospective parent can also adopt a male child if he has no other male children or grandchildren, or a female child if he has no other female children or grandchildren.
  • If the adoptive mother is a woman and the person being adopted is a man, she must be at least 21 years old.
  • After complying with all Act provisions, the adoption process is completed with a registered adoption deed through court.

(B) Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

  • The JJ Act also permits the adoption of same-sex children, allowing biological or adopted parents to adopt a child of the same gender.
  • Prospective parents can adopt their relatives’ children whether they live in India or abroad. A single or divorced person can adopt under the JJ Act, but a single male cannot adopt a girl child.
  • A home study is conducted by the Specialised Adoption Agency (SAS) to determine if a person is eligible to adopt a child, and the process ends with an adoption order.
  • SAS and the Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency (AFAA) are required to follow up with the adoptive family for two years after the adoption.

Reasons for low adoption in India

  • Parent-centrism: The current adoption approach is very parent-centred, but parents must make it child-centred.
  • Age of child: Most Indian parents also want a child between the ages of zero and two, believing that this is when the parent-child bond is formed.
  • Institutional issues: Because the ratio of abandoned children to children in institutionalised care is lopsided, there are not enough children available for adoption.
  • Lineage discrimination: Most Indians have a distorted view of adoption because they want their genes, blood, and lineage to be passed down to their children.
  • Red-tapism: Child adoption is also not so easy task after the Juvenile Justice Rules of 2016 and the Adoption Regulations of 2017 were launched.

Government Initiatives  

(1) Mission Vatsalya:  

  • Mission Vatsalya shall include Child Protection Services and Child Welfare Services. It brings together services and structures to help children in distress.

(2) Mission POSHAN 2.0:  

  • Mission POSHAN 2.0 shall include Umbrella Integrated Child Development Scheme – Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyan, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, and National Creche Scheme.

(3) Mission Shakti:

  • Mission Shakti envisions a unified citizen-centric lifecycle support system for women that includes integrated care, safety, protection, rehabilitation, and empowerment to free women as they move through different stages of life.
  • ‘Sambal’ and ‘Samarthya’ are two sub-schemes of Mission Shakti.
  • The “Sambal” sub-scheme is for women’s safety and security, while the “Samarthya” sub-scheme is for women’s empowerment.

(4) PM CARES for Children Scheme:

  • The government announced a special “PM CARES for Children” program for all children orphaned by Covid-19 who lost their parents or single parents or legal guardians or adoptive parents due to Covid-19.
  • These children can also receive support through scholarships or education loans equivalent to tuition fees during their higher education, and the loan interest is paid by the PM CARES Fund.

(5) CARA

  • Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is an autonomous and statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It was set up in 1990.
  • It functions as the nodal body for the adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
  • CARA is designated as the Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, ratified India in 2003.
  • It primarily deals with the adoption of orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated and recognized adoption agencies.

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