NEW DELHI: India is likely to see a pandemic generation with 375 million children under the age of 14 years suffering from long-lasting impacts ranging from being underweight, stunting and increased child mortality to losses in education and work productivity, according to the 2021 State of India’s Environment report.
But that is not all. The compendium by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) says that Covid pandemic also has its hidden victims over 500 million children forced out of school globally and India accounts for more than half of them. “Covid-19 has made the world’s poor poorer. About 115 million additional people might get pushed into extreme poverty by the pandemic and most of them live in South Asia,” the report said.
“The time has now come to investigate what the pandemic is going to leave behind for us in the longer term a lost generation, scarred by ill-health, malnourishment, acute poverty and a debilitating break in educational accomplishments,” CSE director general Sunita Narain said. Ranked 117 among 192 nations in terms of sustainable development, India is now behind all South Asian nations except Pakistan.
With respect to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, the five best performing states are Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana while Bihar, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh languish at the bottom.
“The overall assessment is that our air and water quality is under stress; all trends show that pollution is increasing and this has massive impacts on our health. Even during the lockdown, data shows that river pollution did not reduce. Clearly, we need to do much more to improve the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink,” Narain said.