NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday rejected the findings of a recent study which estimated that more than 1.9 million children lost their primary caregivers due to coronavirus infection in India, saying the finding was “divorced” from the ground reality.
The study, published on February 24 in UK-based, peer-reviewed medical journal Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, concluded on the basis of a modelling study that the number of children estimated to have experienced death of a parent or caregiver due to Covid-19 was more than 5.2 million. The study, which covered 20 countries, estimated the corresponding figure for India was 1.9 million.
In a rebuttal that called the estimate a “sophisticated trickery” intended to create panic, the women and child development ministry said the Lancet article “very surprising and contrary to field data in this regard”. “Lancet has reported that more than 19 lakh children have lost their primary caregivers due to Covid in India. There is no doubt that the researchers have used sophisticated methodology to estimate the numbers about children, who have lost their primary caregivers, but these findings have no correlation with ground reality in India as reflected from field findings,” it added.
“As per field data coming from the States/UTs and being compiled as per the directions and monitoring of Hon’ble SC, the numbers for India are about 1.53 Lakhs… So, the Lancet article was sophisticated trickery intended to create panic among citizens,” it said.
According to the ministry, 1,53,827 children have been registered on its ‘Bal Swaraj’ portal including 1,42,949 children with single parents, 492 abandoned children and 10,386 children who have lost both their parents.
In May last year, it said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced support for children who have lost both their parents due to Covid-19 under the PM CARES scheme. The objective of the scheme is to ensure comprehensive care and protection of such children in a sustained manner, enable their wellbeing through health insurance, empower them through education and equip them for self-sufficient existence with financial support on reaching 23 years of age.
“So far, 4,196 children have been identified and approved for obtaining the benefits of the PM Cares for Children Scheme,” the ministry added.