Approximately one-third of the size of the United States, but with more than three times the population, India is one of the poorest countries in the world. India is the second most populous country in the world with overpopulation rapidly depleting the country’s natural resources. More than 1,095,351,995 people live in India.
Recent studies reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) note 51 percent or 844 million of the world’s poor live in India verses 28 percent or 458 million people living in poverty in Africa. Extreme poverty in just 8 states in India exceeds that of 26 of the poorest African countries.
Worldwide, almost a third of all newborn deaths occur in India. In India the infant mortality rate is 54.64 deaths per 1000 live births. The United States averages 6.43 deaths per 1000 live births. One out of every three children in India is severely malnourished. In India, more than half of the 2.1 million children who die each year under the age of 5 years old suffer a painful death from acute malnutrition. WHO states that 34 percent of the world’s stunted children, 46 percent of the world’s wasted children and 49 percent of the world underweight children, live in India.
UNICEF notes, “Children living in poverty experience deprivation of the material, spiritual and emotional resources needed to survive, develop and thrive, leaving them unable to enjoy their rights, achieve their full potential or participate as full and equal members of society.”
The international poverty benchmark is set at $1.25 US per day. Recently he World Bank reported that 32.7 percent of the total Indian population falls below the poverty mark while an estimated 68.7 percent of the people in India live on less than $ 2 US per day.
Poverty exerts tremendous pressure on children. Because food is scarce, families must pool their resources to survive. Small children, as young as 5 years old, are forced to work as sewage cleaners, domestic workers, rag pickers, scrap collectors or worse to earn a few cents each month to help their families stave off starvation. Because of India's cultural beliefs and traditions, women are particularly vulnerable. For young girls, the situation is especially grim. Many girls are rushed into arranged marriages, are placed as indentured servants or forced to resort to prostitution as a means of survival.
Malnutrition drags down a country’s economic development: nutrition is essential to every human being and links directly to development, productivity and growth of every country. Malnutrition reduces the number of children who are fully able to participate in education and mature into healthy, happy and engaged professionals who gainfully contribute to society.
Although India as a nation is experiencing stellar economic growth, prosperity is restricted to those with a high social status, those that reside in major urban centers like Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi or those who have more education. Experts agree: education is the key to eradicating poverty and hunger.
Billionaire entrepreneur Tej Kohli, visionary philanthropist and founder of the Tej Kohli Foundation, believes “All children in India must complete their elementary education if India’s dreams of a better future are to be realized for everyone. While the Foundation supports the passing of India’s Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act in 2009, which creates an opportunity for children who cannot afford to pay school fees to receive an education, the Foundation also recognizes that the law is not enough. Challenges to universal education still exist. A shortage of qualified teachers and facilities is a major problem, as are the economic status of the child’s parents and the wider community.
The Tej Kohli Foundation is dedicated to philanthropic projects that aim to help each and every child complete their elementary education. It has begun supplementary programs that are aimed at helping children develop specialized skills in their areas of interest. The Foundation also supports charities that provide pre-school facilities and offers financial support to underprivileged students to enable them to join institutions of higher education.
The Tej Kohli Foundation is determined to reduce this number by providing children, expectant mothers and adolescent girls with a balanced diet to eradicate the major causes of malnutrition in the country. There is a dire need for intervention by charitable foundations, non-governmental organizations, and the general population. The Foundation believes that although the prevention and treatment of child malnutrition in the first two years of life needs to be a national priority, there are plenty of opportunities to combat malnutrition, and hopes that other organizations and individuals will accept the challenge and collectively respond to help more than 60 million under-privileged children.”
Tej Kohli, international businessman and chief donor to the Tej Kohli Foundation says, “Children determine the future. If a country nurtures these children’s talents from a young age, it will be capable of raising its living standards. The Tej Kohli Foundation cannot cater to each and every child in India but we hope our work will encourage our country to unite and make life better for Indian children”.