Covid-19 has barely left any sphere of life unaffected. It has badly impacted businesses, stretched health facilities to breaking points in most parts of the globe and severely hit the education sector. Many people were claimed as victims, shattering families together as most lost their lone breadwinners. It has unfortunately taken away parental care of many children. A new term has been added to routines and that painfully being Covid orphans.
As per Indian ministry of Women and Child Development, nearly 600 children have been orphaned by the present pandemic in less than two months. That number is likely to go up and one hopes that it does not rise too much. For both government and society, the well-being and protection of these children must be a foremost concern.
While many children have lost parental care, others have to bear a blow with the closure of schools. The online mode of education is also leaving many excluded. In the first wave, the many vulnerable children were at the risk of falling through the cracks—some even forced into child labour.
The Supreme Court today observed that precious time has been being lost as children orphaned, abandoned and traumatised by the pandemic were starving without food.
The apex court has ordered district authorities across the country to immediately fan out and identify these children in need of care and provide them with basic needs like food, shelter and clothes.
As has been pointed out by the top court, there is a need to address the agony of these children.
The court has directed the district authorities in every State to upload the details of children who were orphaned and in a position requiring care and protection after March 2020, the month when the pandemic began in India. The top court has also asked the States and UTs to separately provide the facts and figures of such children within two days.
Society and administration must come together to protect children from any such eventuality.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has already announced that it will provide special scholarships to children who lost their parents due to coronavirus. It also, in a right decision, has announced to provide life-long pension to the families who have lost lone-bread earner to the virus. The government should do as much as possible to help the traumatised children and place them in institutional care, if kinship care is not available.