( By Edited by A.P. Dewan )

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A nation which wants to prosper has to invest in its children. There has to be a commitment to its children.

Article 39 of the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution of India directs that "The children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity".

A convention on the Rights of the Child was held under the auspices of the UN on 20 November 1989. It emphasized the Rights of the Child – "the Right to life, the highest attainable standard of health, nutrition, and adequate standard of living". This convention was ratified by India on 11 December 1992.

Child population in India in 1996 was 30.7 crores. In 1991 the number of children below 6 years of age was 15 crores. For every 100 boys there were 98 girls. Infant mortality rate in India in 1992 was 79 deaths per 1000 live births as against 129 in 1971. Under 5 mortality rate in 1992 was, however, as high as 124 deaths per 1000 live births. 103 countries have a lower infant mortality rate of under 5 than India. This is inspite of the various programmes of Child Development Services launched by the Government since 1975. In fact the responsibility for raising a healthy child lies primarily with the parents. It is for the Governments to provide infrastructure of health centres, easy and adequate availability of nutritional foods and information about how to raise a healthy child. In providing such an infrastructure, the International Organisations and the local Non Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) have a meaningful role to play. Poverty is the main hurdle in the way of progress in this area. J.K.Galbraith has validly said that "In this world there is no literate population that is poor and no illiterate population that is other than poor". In the field of literacy, India has a long way to go. Though the enrolment figure in primary schools rose from 19.2 million in 1951 to 99.1 millions in 1991 but only 52% of the enrolled primary school children reach grade V. This is besides a large number which never get enrolled and also besides a backlog of a high percentage of illiterate adults. An enthusiastic Government programme of literacy is trying to take care of this aspect.

For disseminating reliable information about how to raise a healthy child, a laudable joint effort was launched by UNICEF, WHO and UNESCO and they have come out with a book "Facts for Life" on primary health care, which. In 25 to 30 reading pages (total pages 98) has brought out as the most authoritative expression, in plain language of today’s scientific consensus of practical, low cost, family based ways of protecting children’s lives and health. They have placed this book as a ‘Challenge to all communicators of all kinds………voluntary organisations…….who can help to make its contents part of every family’s basic stock of child care knowledge".

This challenge is taken up by the Nature Cure and Yoga Health Centre of the Servants of the People Society (Delhi Branch) was founded by Lala Lajpat Rai and inaugurated by Gandhiji in 1921. For raising a healthy child pre-conceptional care is of great importance and so are certain periods of pregnancy. Both of these subjects have been dealt with in certain depth in this book. While in most cases some outline has been provided by the "Facts for Life", perhaps the details were left to be provided by projects like this. Some body ailments of children and questions relating to hygiene have also been dealt with in some details so as to whet the appetite of the readers. The important question relating to breast feeding has been dealt with by providing details of how to supplement the breast milk, improve feeding postures, frequency of feeding and breast care. This is followed by details of feeding solid foods, feeding bottles with the child and nutrition tips. At the end, question of the intelligence growth of the child has been referred to and various steps suggested for increasing his intelligence growth and intelligence growth and intelligence quotient.

This is, however, preceded by a chapter on growth not only in physical terms of weight and height but also of emotional growth, methods of building confidence and self-respect in the child and ways in which good manners could be learnt. These details are likely to increase the capability of the parents to discharge their responsibility for raising a healthy child more effectively.

In compiling of this book, one problem that cropped up was about the pronoun to be used for the child. This problem was solved by reference to the General Clauses Act, which defines "he" as "he includes she". The use of "he" for the child is quite valid.

No private gain is sought from this book project. All savings, if any, would go to the society for promoting nature cure. Please forgive the shortcomings and oblige by sending in suggestions for improvement. Gratitude is expressed to UNICEF, WHO and UNESCO for permitting the use of the material of their book ‘Facts for life". Gratitude is also expressed to all those who helped in this project.

Yours in service. A.P. Dewan

Available at:
The Nature Cure and Yoga Health Centre,
Servants of the People Society,
Lajpat Bhawan, Near Vikram Hotel,
New Delhi- 110024

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