India

How can India, one of the world’s most vibrant economies, allow the deaths of nearly 2 million children under five every year? How can it let children as young as eight work in the cotton fields? Why should millions of children drop out of school?

Anju Devi, 25, holds her 20-day-old daughter, Sonam, during a breastfeeding awareness session in the Holambi Kalan slum in Delhi, as part of our health visits. 

In the words of Thomas Chandy, Save the Children India’s chief executive: “The work starts now.”

Last year, Save the Children India helped three-quarters of a million children. It's work puts it at the forefront of the fight for Indian children’s rights.

  • Nearly 2 million children under five die needlessly every year in India – the highest number of child deaths in any country in the world
  • Tens of thousands of people joined us in launching our EVERY ONE child survival campaign.
  • Since the launch of EVERY ONE, we’ve reached 300,000 children through our work on health and hunger.
  • In 2010 we helped three-quarters of a million children to have healthier, happier lives.

The challenges

The world’s largest democracy, a global centre of technology and finance, the home of megacities Delhi and Mumbai, and a driving force in the world economy — India is surging ahead. But despite its exponential rate of economic growth, tens of millions of its children are being left behind.

No other country in the world sees as many children die from preventable and treatable diseases as India.

More than 40 million children below the age of 14 work in hazardous occupations — mining, gem polishing, selling food on the streets, domestic labour.

Many are trafficked as sex workers. Eight million children are not in school. There’s more wealth in India than ever before, but it has not yet translated into healthcare, education or better nutrition for the poor.

 

What we’ve achieved

Save the Children India became an independent organisation two years ago and has gone from strength to strength. You can read more about its achievements here.

  • Across the country, we’re inspiring celebrities, politicians, journalists and ordinary people to help us say no to needless child deaths.
  • In early 2010, health experts and high-profile  figures wrote to the government, asking it to raise spending on healthcare — at just 1.1% of GDP, one of the lowest in the world  — and deliver low-cost treatment for children.
  • In May 2011, 14 eminent women from film, media, fashion, art, literature, politics and law came together on Mother’s Day to recognise the contribution of health workers in saving the lives of mothers and children, and made their personal pledge to support the cause.
  • We’re taking healthcare to the poor, with six mobile clinics in the slums of Delhi, thanks to support from the Indian and Dutch governments. We’re pioneering new ways of reaching communities with simple solutions to malnutrition and child and maternal deaths.  
  • We’re working in nearly 2,000 communities to shift attitudes towards child labour in agriculture, which employs a third of India’s working children.
  • In 2009 230,000 children joined our child rights activities, and we helped more than 3,000 children get out of exploitative labour and back into school.
  • In Jammu and Kashmir, the state government has endorsed our guidelines on care for orphans — a policy change which will help 100,000 orphans.

What’s urgent now

Top of the list is EVERY ONE – our campaign to save nearly two million lives each year.

In 2011, we’re focusing on the vital importance of health workers. With training, supervision and support, female health workers who are rooted in the community can promote and deliver proven, cost-effective healthcare that can save the lives of thousands of mothers and their children each year.

We also aim to stop children working in dangerous, pesticide-filled cotton fields.

You can help

You can support Save the Children India’s groundbreaking work

  • Stop children from dying needlessly by donating to our community health programme.
  • Protect children from trafficking and the dangers of child labour by supporting our child rights’ project.