The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on people all over the world, including millions of underprivileged children in India. While this crisis has affected all aspects of life, the impact on children is particularly worrying. India has one of the largest populations of children globally, with more than 472 million under the age of 18, and a significant number of them are facing extreme hardship. The pandemic has taken a significant toll on their physical, emotional, and economic well-being.
Limited Access to Education
The pandemic has led to the closure of schools and universities, forcing children to stay at home for long periods. While online education has helped in some cases, millions of underprivileged children in India do not have access to the internet or smartphones, making it impossible to continue their studies. According to one report, around 27% of school-going children in India have had no access to online learning in the past year. This lack of educational opportunities could lead to an increase in school dropout rates, particularly among girls and those from disadvantaged communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of children contracting infectious diseases and other health problems. With schools closed, many children are confined to their homes and may not have access to healthcare services. This situation is particularly critical for children living in slums or rural areas, where basic hygiene facilities and proper sanitation are lacking. A survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research in 2020 found that 16.7% of children in rural areas and 26% of children in urban areas were undernourished. Malnutrition weakens the immune system, making children more vulnerable to diseases.
The pandemic has also had a significant psychological impact on children in India. The fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus can be particularly frightening for children. They may feel isolated and anxious, with no access to friends or support networks. The rising cases of domestic violence and child abuse in India during the pandemic have only added to their trauma. This psychological distress can affect their academic performance, self-esteem, and mental health, leading to long-term consequences that could impact their overall development.
Slowing Down of Economic Activities
The economic impact of the pandemic has been severe in India, with thousands of people losing their jobs, particularly those in low-income households. The resulting loss of income has affected the ability of families to provide basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing for their children. As parents struggle with the financial burden, children may also be forced to work or beg on the streets to survive, putting them at an increased risk of exploitation, trafficking, and child labor.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant and lasting effects on underprivileged children in India. They face a variety of challenges, from limited access to education to inadequate healthcare and the psychological trauma of the pandemic. It is critical that policymakers and communities work together to address these challenges and provide support to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of these children. By working together, we can help provide a brighter future for India’s underprivileged children.