Children in India

Overview of India

India is the most ancient and highly populous nation in the world. While India remains one of the world's poorest countries, it is also very rich in cultural diversity. Indians discriminate against each other on the basis of their age, gender, class, and ethnic/cultural background. Poverty is an acute and widespread condition for most of India's 395 million children. As of 1986, 50% of India's total population lives below the poverty line. In part, the cycle of poverty continues because close to two-thirds of the Indian people are living in poor, rural areas. India has the highest amount of child labor in the world, and furthermore, a low amount of educational achievement. Not all of India is poor, however. Rather, there is a large socio-economic gap between upper and lower classes based on remnants of the caste system, a system which is deeply embedded in Indian culture. The upper classes have greater access to wealth, health care, and education.

Here are some statistics relating to Children in India:

Total Population982,223,000
Population under 18395,791,000
Population under 5115,615,000
Annual Numer of Births24,671,000
Adult Literacy
Percent of Children Completing Elementary School62%
Percent of Children Receiving Vitamin A68%
Number of "Baby Friendly" Hospitals1017
Percent of Infants with Low Birth Weight33%
Infant Mortality69/1000
Annual Number of Deaths: Children under 52,590,000

We derived the above statistics from the UNICEF web page, last updated December 1999.

Our Purpose

Our purpose is to provide information about the social structure, diversity, and children's agency in India, in order to increase awareness about Indian children's experiences.

The above three themes: social structure, diversity, and children's agency, will guide our discussion of Indian children's lives.


This site will focus on the following facets of children's lives in India:

Family Labor EducationPoverty HealthOrganizations

You may also access a map from this homepage.

The above information was derived from following sources:

Whitehead, C. (1986). The Economics of Children at Work. New Statesman, 112, 19.

State Party Report. (July, 1997). United Nations Homepage . (1999, November 10)

This website was created in the Fall of 1999 by Matthew Cardinale, Amanda Gitlin, and Lindsey Hollister, students at Tulane University. Our collaboration is part of a class project for Professor April Brayfield's Sociology 119: Children and Society Class. Information about children in other countries can be found at The Children Around the World webpage.