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Positive but unhealthy 

How happy are children in Nagaland? If one goes by recent ‘India Child Well-being Report,’ they are revealed to be contended or at least relatively well protected and live in an environment generating high ‘positive relationships.’

Nagaland topped the States and Union territories (UTs) in developing ‘positive relationships’ for children with an Index of 0.84, the report, a collaborative effort of World Vision India and IFMR LEAD, indicated.

Most north eastern states showed impressive performance on this dimension with Arunachal Pradesh following Nagaland closely with a score of 0.80 and Meghalaya next with a score of 0.77. Assam came in fourth with a score of 0.76, while Manipur occupied the sixth spot with a score of 0.76. 

The indicators assessed under this dimension were the relationships at the community and other levels that contribute to children’s well-being, ensuring that they are safe, protected and cared for.

The indicators, the report informed, revolved around the important services, institutions and other state and non-state actors, their presence, ability and resources to function effectively. Among others, children in crimes were low in Nagaland and suicides among children were low.

In another dimension, ‘Protective Contexts,’ measured the “social and economic contexts where children live largely determine their access to opportunities in life.”

Seven indicators, the characteristic of contexts and environments where the child is subjected to exploitative and unfair means that curtail their development, were measured under this dimension.  It included child’s current and future well-being like “poverty, early marriage, child labour, marginalisation, homelessness and violence”

In this dimension too, the Nagaland scored well and was seventh on the list, taking its overall ranking to 8th position among the states and UTs in ensuring ‘well-being’ of a child. 

Overall, in many measures of child well-being, Kerala surpassed most Indian states; among the Union Territories, Puducherry topped with good scores in the areas of providing health, nutrition and clean water and addressing poverty. 

However, Nagaland was found wanting in one crucial dimension - ‘Healthy Individual Development’ which measured the access to good health and education which provide “the best start in life for a child.”

Nine indicators on health (mortality, nutrition, immunisation, safe birth, mental health and government’s commitment to health) and four indicators on education (ability to read and write, pupil-teacher ratio, completion of Class X and dropout rates) record the aspects related to the healthy individual development of the child were measured under the health dimension.  

Of the three measures, this has immediate implication to well-being of the child and the policy makers need to analyse the report with special concern to correct the poor performance. At 0.45, Nagaland was ranked in the lower end under this dimension.  

For instance, indicators like institutional delivery, under-5 mortality and immunisation were most worrying, while in other measures like stunting, Pupil Teacher Ratio, basic reading and math and drop-out rate, the state fared poorly. 
Under ‘Protective Context’ dimension, worrying trends were further perceptible in adolescent pregnancy, number of household with income less than Rs 5000, roads and child labour. 

Relatively better performances in ‘Positive Relationship’ and ‘Protective Context’ are more indicative of robust social capital the state is inherently endowed with; there can be good outcome, with or without, Government’s policy intervention. 

However, stumbling on pertinent indicators on health development and protection pertains to governance and public service delivery. As such, failure on this count can be attributed to government's policy and implementation deficiency. Consequently, it demands urgent targeted policy intervention and course correction from those at the helms of affairs.   

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