Sam Theodore & Jon Warren
Rupak De Chowdhuri / Reuters
"Do any of you go to work?" we ask the children. The question makes the smiles vanish from their faces in an instant. Murmurs of "no" and immediate head-shaking goes around the dingy classroom in Kondamudusupallam Ambedkar Nagar village, in rural Andhra Pradesh. There's a quick exchange of glances among the boys and girls, and, as if on cue, they all hang their heads in silence. But 13-year-old Meghna looks at us, and giggles.
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In India, the total number of children (0-18 years of age group) is 472 million and accounts for 39% of our total population. It would be a fair assumption that the category designated as the future of the nation ought to be secured a good future through substantial investment in their development. Unfortunately, budgetary allocation for children has been experiencing a decline. The overall percentage share of resources allocated for children has fallen from 4.52% in 2014-15 to 3.26% in 2015-16.
"We have beautiful hearts and hopes and want to soar in the sky," said Nisha Das, a girl with disability from a Kolkata slum. It was July 2013, and she was talking at the 67th UN General Assembly's Thematic Debate on Reducing Inequality. Nisha was speaking on behalf of millions of India's children whose dreams had not been met by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Three years later, India needs to revise its priorities to align with the Sustainable Development Goals launched at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly.