Speech while releasing the state of the world’s children 1986. Dated 13/12/1985

The UNICEF report entitled The State of the World’s Children 1986′ has been widely welcomed as a document that holds out considerable hope for the care of children, particularly, in the developing countries. Apart from inherent drawbacks in the childwelfare schemes, in the developing countries are at present exposed to great hazards of modern civilization.

The Third World countries today are the real victims of world wide industrialisation. More and more toxic chemicals, pesticides, etc. are distributed in these countries and our people inadvertently consume much of these. Welfare of children, therefore, is much more important to the developing countries where entire populations are exposed to such hazards. In this context I welcome the efforts of the UNICEF and the various agencies through which it is taking care of the children.

The child is the wealth of the family and children, the wealth of the country. Every nation places its hopes in its children because they will take care of the future. In fact, the health of a country depends-upon the health of the children. Beyond sustaining them, you cannot do much for the older generation, but the children can be helped to grow into healthly boys and girls, men and women so that they may take over the burdens of life from their elders and are strong and healthy enough to carry forward the burden they have taken upon themselves. It was this foresight which made Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, even during the early years of

independence, to give very high priority to the care of children. It was the very consideration which made Smt. Indira Gandhi, when she became Prime Minister, to take up the cause of child welfare with a Messianic zeal. It is because of her efforts we now have a wide network of child welfare organisations all over the country.

Madhya Pradesh is one of the comparatively backward States of India, with a very large adivasi and harijan population. Even to reach them is a very important step, so far as this State is concerned. I am happy that the State Government are taking bold steps to reach them in the remotest parts of the State, but so far they have only touched the fringes. We have to reach them at any cost and what we want most in this effort is motivated workers. I do not think this should be the business of the official agencies alone. We have to press into service a large number of dedicated workers who would take up the task seriously. This is an aspect which, I hope the considering. State Government are

Most of our welfare activities are confined to cities and towns. We will have to find agencies which will reach the people in the villages. If UNICEF activities- its child welfare units-are to be taken to the villages; there will be need for hardwork. We have fixed 1990 as the target year for universal immunisation. To attain that objective by 1990, we will have to work hard. Reaching out and immunising every child may be a hard task but it must be completed quickly if the country is to go forward and, as our Prime Minister desires, brought anywhere near civilized life by the time we reach the 21st century.