Published: 28th November 2023
Telangana elections: Experts urge political parties to focus on children's needs
PVCR-TS, an alliance of people working for child rights, submitted a list of child-specific demands to the BJP, BRS, and Congress
When almost 35 per cent of the population in Telangana comprises 0-18-year-old children, none of the prominent political parties in Telangana have featured any aspect related to children in their political manifestos, say experts. They ironically added that those who have no right to vote and no mention in the manifesto, are easy targets to use in the election campaigning.
People's Voice for Child Rights - Telangana State (PVCR-TS), an alliance of different individuals working for child rights from each district of the state, submitted a list of child-specific demands to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), and Congress, the three major political parties on Sunday, November 26. No tangible response was received by any of them, said Dr K Subhash, State General Secretary of PVCR, reports The New Indian Express.
"K Venkateshwaralu who is the secretary of the manifesto drafting committee of BJP said that the party has already released its manifesto for the state elections. He promised that the demands will be taken into consideration during the Lok Sabha elections next year," Subhash added.
However, neither Congress nor BRS mentioned anything in their manifestos. The Congress party said that they would try to implement these demands once in power. "The conclusion of the 30-minute discussion with Congress was that Karnataka's manifesto is used in Telangana," Subhash said.
Whereas, he added, BRS manifesto drafting committee members, who were reluctant to share their names, said that their government is already implementing several schemes for the children. "BRS has included the adoption of orphan children in its manifesto. However, the initiative is not exclusive to the manifesto as it was announced back in August itself," the PVCR secretary opined.
Speaking about their demands, Subhash said, "The list of demands was submitted only after studying and identifying gaps in manifestos of all the parties. As political parties published their manifestos late this time, there was not much space for the forum to give and add suggestions."
Their other demands include a state-level plan of action to tackle increasing child marriage cases, transport facilities to go to schools, and monthly health checkups in schools. It addresses the need for a state-level policy for children, something like Child Bandhu, on the lines of Rythu Bandhu, and Dalit Bandhu. Malnutrition in children is another big issue that they want to address.
Since 2009, PVCR has been submitting a Child Rights manifesto to all political parties. It is disappointing for them that even during these elections, no political party has any prominent point pertaining to children in their manifestos barring one or two parties.
Among all the parties, only the Communist Party of India in their manifesto has promised to allocate 20% of the state budget for children, universalisation of the Right to Education Act for students aged three to 18 years and implement the common school system; all of these have also been included in the PVCR's demands.
It's better to give voting rights to children, as it seems it is the only solution to make political parties address the concerns of children, the experts say sarcastically. "Congress promised financial support via schemes and scholarships for college students and PhD holders. But no one cares about dropouts at the primary level and is giving incentives to overcome that," Subhash said.
"Similarly, Congress announced free travel for women in TSRTC buses across the state which can be implemented for children as well. Furthermore, caste-based residential schools are already ghettoising children; BRS's agenda to establish it for upper caste poor will only add more fuel to the fire," he added, as per TNIE.
Notably, the Special Educators Forum India (SEFI) has also brought attention to various critical issues that require consideration from political parties during this election season. These include the elimination of the Teacher Pupil Ratio and the appointment of at least one teacher for every class. "The education budget needs to be at least 20 per cent," said Kalpagiri, National Convenor of SEFI.
He stressed the need for recruitment every six months, staffing for administrative roles (MEO, Dy. EO, DEO, AD, RJD, JD and so on) at all levels, permanent staff allocation at SCERT (State Council of Educational Research and Training), the establishment of a vigilance department in the education department for periodic education evaluations, abolition of Teacher Unions/Associations except those recognised by the government, and addressing the transition rate.