Where in India can a child be the happiest? Kerala could be the answer, if you go by the India Child Well-Being Report 2021 published jointly by non-profit World Vision India and think tank Poverty Learning Foundation. While Kerala bagged the first rank among all the States, Meghalaya ranked the lowest.

The southern State scored an overall high of 0.89 out of 1; the other States that fared well were Uttarakhand (0.77), Punjab (0.76), Himachal Pradesh (0.73) and Sikkim (0.72), bagging the second, third, fourth and fifth ranks, respectively. On the other side of the spectrum, Meghalaya showed an abysmal performance scoring an overall 0 out of 1.

The other States that scored the lowest ranks are Bihar (0.02), Tripura (0.14), Uttar Pradesh (0.177) and Odisha (0.179). Among the top five performing districts in the country, four belong to Kerala — Kasaragod, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta and Kannur — the other one being Kanyakumari (second rank) from Tamil Nadu.

Kerala was adjudged the best performing State in 2019 too, by the report. At that time, it was followed by Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh. Sikkim, Goa and Punjab had also done comparatively better than other States.

The indicators

The overall score was calculated based on the geometric mean of the four domain scores impacting child well-being — health, hygiene, protection and school education. A few of the indicators for health were the percentages of children under 5 years of age who were anemic, stunted, malnourished or underweight. Other determinants included the percentage of women who had cesarean deliveries and institutional births.

Indicators for hygiene included the percentage of households who had access to toilets and practised hand-washing. Some of the criteria affecting protection were the rate of crimes under the Child Labour Act, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. The rates of child trafficking and cybercrimes against children were also incorporated.

In case of school education, the deciding factors were dropout rates, especially among girls and the percentages of schools having a library, playground or drinking water facilities.

Mizoram, Kerala and Uttarakhand did exceptionally well in the domain of health while Sikkim, Nagaland and Uttarakhand topped under hygiene. The northeastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Manipur were the best in terms of child protection. In the sphere of school education, Kerala, Punjab and Gujarat were the leading States.

The report has sourced data from the National Family Health Survey 5, National Sample Survey Office 2018, National Crime Records Bureau reports, the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE, 2019-20) report and the National Achievement Survey 2017.

The author is an intern with BusinessLine