As in most social sector indicators, Kerala tops the national child rights index, followed by Karnataka. Arunachal Pradesh is the worst performer in protecting the rights of children.

Strangely, Kerala's child marriage indicator is the lowest, and the State's performance is far from satisfactory in early childhood care and crimes against children.

One point that stands out in the indexing — the first of its kind in the country — is that economic growth does not necessarily improve the wellbeing of children. Jharkhand is the only State whose economic status matches its child rights rank — both standing at 17.


Kerala, which ranks first in the national child rights, stands ninth in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) status, whereas Maharashtra, which ranks first in the GDP, is standing third in child rights. Maharashtra does badly in sex ratio and child marriage, which points to the lack of attention to children. Arunachal Pradesh has performed fairly well in sex ratio, child marriage and early childhood care.

This composite index, brought out by the HAQ-Centre for Child Rights, looks into all aspects of child wellbeing in all sectors and indicators for realisation of child rights as a whole.

With the second highest GDP in the country, Uttar Pradesh ranks 18th in child rights and 27th in the provision of health care, next only to Jharkhand. Surprising facts the indexing has thrown up are that Mizoram is doing badly in controlling child labour, while crimes against children are the highest in Nagaland (in proportion to the number of children), and Manipur is the worst performer in crimes by children and Bihar is the best.

“It [the index] was timed to coincide with the 12th Five Year Planning process, and we hope it will help to identify the States that still lag behind, and highlight the specific areas — geographical and sectoral — that pull them down, so that they can be paid attention to,” said Enakshi Ganguly Thukral of HAQ.


The ranking has a regional pattern: four of the five best performing States — Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh — are from the southern region. Maharashtra alone is from the west. On the other hand, all the worst performing States are in the Northeast: Sikkim, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. In fact, of the five States falling in the not-so-well performing States category, Tripura, Assam and Mizoram are from the Northeast. They are performing badly in almost indicators.

A significant proportion of the population of the worst performing States, which are performing badly in education, are tribals: Jharkhand and Arunachal Pradesh are tribal-dominated, with indigenous groups constituting 26.3 per cent and 64.2 per cent of the population. This is also true of health, wherein the five worst performing State are Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. All among them are essentially tribal States, except Uttar Pradesh.

Maharashtra, though ranking third in child rights, has not been able to address the falling sex ratio and child marriage. In fact, all the five best performing States are not doing well in early childhood care and preventing child marriage.

Kerala and Goa, the two best performing States in health, are performing poorly in the provision of health infrastructure. Himachal Pradesh, one of the five best States in health care, ranks among the last five in HIV/AIDS intervention.