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Millions of Births Still Go Unreported in India

Inspite of a law in place, the level of birth registration in certain parts of India is not satisfactory. Of the 26 million children born every year, 10 million still go unregistered .

Two out of every five children are not registered and therefore do not exist for government planning purposes, Plan India, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) said.

The registration of births and deaths was made compulsory under the Registration of Births & Deaths (RBD) Act, 1969. As a signatory to the U.N Convention, 1989 on the 'Rights of the Child', the country has a responsibility to ensure registration of all births, as registration of birth is the first right of the child.

"Though more than 35 years have passed since the enactment of the legislation, the level of birth registrations is not satisfactory in certain parts of the country," Sneha Siddham, programme officer of Plan India said in a press conference, here Wednesday.

The proof of age is linked to the successful implementation of a variety of child related laws in the country. Child marriage, child labour, juvenile delinquent laws all make their provisions on the basis of age, she said.

"Children without proof of age in the form of a birth certificate could very likely find themselves without protection offered by these laws," she said.

Plan India is engaged with the office of the registrar general, India and the registrars' offices in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, to strengthen the existing system of birth registrations in the country.

Siddham said grass root mobilization has been initiated in the low performing districts of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka through a network of partner NGOs.

As per the registrar general of India (the national level government agency responsible for tracking births and deaths) presently the registration wing of the department is covering about 63.8 per cent of the births taking place in the country.

The level of registration varies substantially across the states. Among the low performing states, birth registration in Rajasthan has gone up from 61.43 percent in 2005 to 78.01 percent in 2006. In the rural areas, it has increased from 42.29 percent in 2005 to 61.36 percent in 2006.

"This is due to the intensive campaign undertaken by the state to ensure universal birth registration," Siddham said.


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