Birth registration:Key to establishing child rights
BIRTH registration, a basic component of demographic discipline, is still an area where we have not attained our goal, with less than 10 per cent of the children below five having so far received the birth registration certificate.
It is really surprising that the Births and Deaths Registration Act 2006, which replaced an archaic law enacted in 1873, was the first serious attempt by the government to bring the whole issue under a legal framework. It is not clear why birth registration, the first official recognition given to a newborn baby, did not figure in the plans and programmes of successive governments in the past. The point is all the more relevant in a social setting where the number of vulnerable children is very high and in many cases they are left out of all social development schemes. Lack of reliable statistics also makes it difficult for the planners to assess our social and economic needs accurately.
So, the speakers in a seminar on birth registration held in the city on Tuesday very rightly observed that such registration was a step forward which would enhance the accountability of the state. The point is duly emphasised in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Birth registration will provide a clear picture of the demographic base needed for formulating development strategies. It is crucially important for the health and education sectors where our performance needs vast improvement. Since there are resource constraints, it is imperative that optimum use of the available resources is ensured. And this can be done when the agencies concerned know the facts and figures very well.
However, the task of registering all the births is a challenging one, since a huge number of people lack the awareness needed to place the issue in the right perspective. There is still low demand for birth certificates, as people do not realise the importance of obtaining the certificates for the newborn babies. Obviously, educating the people regarding the benefits of birth registration is the only solution here.
Birth registration is something that the developed societies introduced decades back, but we are still progressing slowly to fulfill this precondition for better handling of all development and social issues. Our target in this area has to be achieved as a matter of top priority.
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