The head of a leading humanitarian charitable organization in the country has called on the Church to rise up from its ‘Sunday school centric’ response and become a prophetic community bringing healing to the lives of children who are neglected and are deprived of education.
India is home to the world’s largest child population. Less than half of India’s children go to school and more than 50% are malnourished. Church must become a truth telling, grieving community and call the nation’s attention to such children, expressed Dr. Jayakumar Christian, Director of World Vision India.
“Church is called to be a credible prophetic voice that express God’s mind over these issues in the public domain. This requires that the Church look beyond its Sunday school and Vacation Bible schools and reach out to those outside our gates. For too long we have been comfortable within our four walls. It is time Church follow our Lord Jesus Christ and place the child at the centre of our debates, inside and outside the church,” Jayakumar wrote in a column on ‘Drishtikone’.
India has 40% of its population below the age of 18 years. Not surprisingly, 17 million children are child labourers and about 19% are employed as domestic help. It is estimated that 30,000 children are in the sex trade. In addition to all this, the UN estimates that 2.1 million Indian children die before reaching the age of 5 every year.
Jayakumar argues how India could be a global leader with a clean conscience when millions are robbed of their childhood. “We as a nation – the media, the corporate world, ordinary citizens, academics and political leaders must grapple with the historic neglect of our children.”
In this context of marginalization, Jayakumar said the civil society has a unique role to play and it must begin by revisiting its frame works and priorities. “The Development industry often measures effectiveness and sustainable solutions in terms of adults. If sustainability is about the future, should we not invest in the child? Should not our monitoring and evaluation measures have the ‘state of child’ as the determining factor?,” he asked
“The child must redefine our development paradigms and frame works. In a nation where millions of our children are neglected and marginalised, we, the development community have a moral duty to re-examine our development models and priorities in relation to the child,” he expressed.
In poverty situations where power abuse is the hallmark, he continued, the choice of the child as a defining frame is an unpopular political choice. “Taking the side of the vulnerable and powerless child is one of the most aggressive viable alternatives to deal with power abuse in poverty situations,” he declared.
World Vision, as a Christian humanitarian organisation, has been in the forefront in working to create a lasting change in the lives of children across the country.
Christian Today India
November 22, 2010