Poor nutrition and low child survival rate has pushed Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh to the bottom of an index that tracks children's well-being through three dimensions of healthy individual development, positive relationships and protective contexts.
According to the index, Kerala bagged the top spot due to its exceptional performance in health, nutrition and education facilities.
The Child Well-Being Index, released on Tuesday, is a tool designed to measure and track children's well-being through three dimensions of healthy individual development, positive relationships and protective contexts. The index has been developed by NGOs World Vision India and IFMR LEAD.
Focusing on the three key dimensions, 24 indicators were selected to develop the computation of the child well-being index.
The index captures the performance of each state and union territory on a composite child well-being score. Among states, Kerala (0.76), Tamil Nadu (0.67) and Himachal Pradesh (0.67) bagged the top three slots in the index.
Meghalaya (0.53), Jharkhand (0.50) and Madhya Pradesh (0.44) featured at the bottom, the index said.
"Kerala bagged the top spot with the the state providing a healthy start to its children. More children were completing school and were able to have access to quality education," the report said.
Kerala also performed better in addressing malnutrition and ensuring child survival and access to a healthy environment in terms of clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, it said.
For Jharkhand, child survival, nutrition and access to water and sanitation are the key areas that need to be focussed on, to improve its score. More children were stunted and underweight, access to institutional delivery was low and a higher number of children were dying before they turned five, the index said.
Efforts need to be taken to ensure children complete schooling, since more children were dropping out of school in Jharkhand, the report said.
"Survival, nutrition and basic education are other aspects in which Jharkhand performed lowest among all Indian states," the report said.
Low performance in the areas of child survival, nutrition, crimes against children and juvenile crimes, brought the scores down for Madhya Pradesh, the index said.
More children live in poorer families in Madhya Pradesh, it added.
Among the Union Territories, Puducherry led the way with a score of 0.77 and Dadra and Nagar Haveli featured at the other end with a score of 0.52, it said.
The report has called for states to look at their respective scores on the dimensions of child well-being and to prepare for priority areas of intervention with specific plans of action.
The report also emphasised on triggering policy level changes, seek better budgetary allocations and initiate discussions with all stakeholders which can help in enhancing the quality of life of all children in the country.
Cherian Thomas, National Director and CEO, World Vision India said,"The report highlights the multi-dimensional approach towards measuring child well-being - going beyond mere income poverty.
"Children have the potential to transform the country, but if neglected, they will exacerbate the burden of poverty and inequality. It is imperative that all stakeholders prioritise and invest in the well-being of our children," Thomas said.