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  • 11 January, 2024

  • 10 Min Read

Child Marriages in INDIA

A recent study published in the Lancet noted overall decrease in child marriage in India except 4 States.

What are the key findings of the Lancet report?

  • India 1 in 5 girls are still married below legal marriage age
  • Skewed achievements – Some States have achieved dramatic decreases while other states like West Bengal have struggled.
  • Bihar (16.7%), West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra accounted for more than half of the total headcount burden of child marriages in girls.
  • West Bengal – It has the largest absolute increase in headcount representing an increase of 32.3% in headcount with over 5,00,000 more girls getting married as children.

What is situation of child marriage in West Bengal?

  • Statistics – The National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5)carried out in 2019-20, points out that the women aged 20-24 years who were married before the age of 18 years remains one of the highest in the country at 41.6% same as NFHS- 4.
  • The all-India figure of women aged 20-24 years getting married before they turn 18 is pegged at 23.3%.
  • Policy interventions – 2 schemes were introduced to curb child marriages situations in the state.
    • Rupashree Prakalpa – A cash incentive scheme for marriage of girls who are above legal marriage age in India.
    • Kanyashree Prakalpa - A conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at incentivising the schooling of all teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 18, and simultaneously discouraging child marriage.

Kanyashree Prakalpa

  • Established in – 2013
  • International recognition – Received the United Nations Public Service Award 2017
  • Coverage –81 lakh girls as per the State budget for 2023-24
  • Impact – The school enrolment of girls has increased in the State.
  • In 2023, the Class XII board exam, saw a 14.84% increase in female candidates.
  • The number of girls appearing in the examination was 1.27 lakh higher than boys and totalled 57.43% of the total candidates.
  • Challenges – Cash incentives and existing laws have failed to check child marriages in West Bengal.
  • Poverty forces the family to continue with the custom of child marriage.
    • Murshidabad, economically poorer district of the State, has one of the highest numbers of child marriages.
  • A significant population of the State go out to work (migration) in other States and they don’t want to leave unmarried daughters at home.
  • Despite high literacy, the incidence of child marriage is also disproportionately high in some districts.
    • For example, the Purba Medinipur district with over 88% literacy rate has the highest incidence of child marriage of more than 57.6% as per NFHS- 5.
  • Certain families avail cash benefits of both the schemes to organise marriage of girls, sometimes soon after cashing in on the school scheme.
  • Lower number of cases registered under Prohibition of Child Marriages Act, 2006 due to the lack of awareness.
    • In 2021, West Bengal registered only 105 cases whereas States like Assam with smaller population and lesser instances of child marriage registered more cases in the past 5 years.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 introduced in Parliament in 2021 for raising the age of marriage of women to 21 years to bring it on par with the men has been referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee.


One in five girls and one in six boys are still getting married below the legal age of marriage in India.This has been highlighted by a new study published in the Lancet Global Health on December 15th, 2023.

Child Marriages in India

  • In India, child marriage reduced from 47.4% in 2005-06 to 26.8% in 2015-16.
  • In the last five years, it declined by 3.5% points to reach 23.3% in 2020-21, according to the latest National Family Health Survey-5 data.
  • There is a growing trend for decline in the overall prevalence of child marriage, but 23.3% is still a disturbingly high percentage in a country with a population of 141.2 crore.
  • Eight States have a higher prevalence of child marriage than the national average:
    • West Bengal, Bihar and Tripura top the list with more than 40% of women aged 20-24 years married below 18, according to NFHS data.
  • Some States have shown a reduction in child marriages, like Madhya Pradesh (23.1% in 2020-21 from 32.4% in 2015-16), Rajasthan (25.4% from 35.4%) and Haryana.

Global Scenario

  • According to data from UNICEF, the total number of girls married in childhood stands at 12 million per year.
  • The 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals aim to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilations, under goal 5.
  • While it is encouraging that in the past decade great progress has been made in South Asia, where a girl’s risk of marrying before she is 18 has dropped by more than a third, from nearly 50% to below 30%, it is not enough, and progress has been uneven.

Impact of Child Marriage

  • While child marriage is considered a human rights violation and a recognised form of sexual and gender-based violence, the adverse impact of child marriage is manifested across maternal and child health.
  • Recently, 10 infants died at Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital in a span of 24 hours.
    • The hospital authorities said the majority of the children were born with extremely low birth weight.
  • Murshidabad, one of the economically poorer districts of the State, has one of the highest numbers of child marriages in West Bengal.
  • The NFHS - 5 points out that 55.4% of women aged 20-24 years are married before the age of 18 years in the district.
  • The district saw a rise from NFHS-4 numbers, which stood at 53.5 %.

Legal Intervention in India

  • There are several laws including the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which aim at protecting children from violation of human and other rights.
  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks to increase the marriage age of women from existing 18 years to 21 years.

Why Minimum Age of Marriage for Females should be Increased?

  • Lack of access to education and employment:
    • Women face inequalities when it comes to access to education and employment as a consequence of their early marriages.
    • It is often the case that women are denied access to education and an economic means of livelihood after entering into the institution of marriage at an early age.
    • Increasing the minimum age for marriage will lead to more women pursuing higher education and opt for employment.
  • Impact of early marriage on health of women and children:
    • An early age of marriage and consequent early pregnancies have a substantial impact on the nutritional levels of mothers and their children, along with their overall health and mental wellbeing.
    • Underage mothers are at a higher risk of reproductive health challenges, malnutrition, postpartum haemorrhage, and a susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases.

Schemes/ Policies for Preventing Girl Child Marriage

  • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY):
    • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY), was launched in 2015, in order to promote the welfare of girl child.
    • It encourages parents to invest and build funds for the future studies and marriage expenses of the girl's children.
  • Balika Samriddhi Yojana:
    • Balika Samriddhi Yojana is another central government scheme to support girls in financially vulnerable sections of society.
    • This scheme ensures the enrolment and retention of girl child in primary and secondary schools.
    • It aims at the prosperity of a girl's child and provides them with a better quality education.
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao:
    • Among all the other girl's child welfare schemes, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao is the most popular.
    • This scheme celebrates girl children, literally translating to Save the Girl Child, Educate the Girl child. It believes in women empowerment and creating an inclusive ecosystem for the same.
    • This scheme is to promote girl children’s safety before and after they are born.

News Summary

  • One in five girls and one in six boys are still getting married below the legal age of marriage in India, as per a new study published in the Lancet Global Health.
    • The researchers used data from five National Family Health Surveys from 1993, 1999, 2006, 2016,and 2021 to compile the study.

Key highlights of the report

  • There remains an urgent need for strengthened national and state-level policy to eliminate child marriage by 2030, say the researchers.
  • Researchers have noted that substantial variation exists in the prevalence of girl and boy child marriages across the states and Union Territories during the study period.
  • All states, except Manipur, experienced a decline in the prevalence of girl child marriage between 1993 and 2021.
  • According to researchers in 2021, the headcount of child marriage in girls was 13,464,450 and 14,54,894 in boys.
  • Four states – Bihar (16·7%), West Bengal (15·2%), Uttar Pradesh (12·5%), and Maharashtra (8·2%) – accounted for more than half of the total burden of child marriages in girls.
    • For boys, Gujarat (29%), Bihar (16·5%), West Bengal (12.9%), and Uttar Pradesh (8.2%) accounted for more than 60 per cent of the burden.
  • Jharkhand had the largest percentage increase in headcount (53.1%) between 1993 and 2021.
  • Most states and Union Territories saw a decrease in headcount of child marriage in girls between 1993 and 2021.
  • Uttar Pradesh had the most substantial absolute decrease, which accounted for an estimated one-third of the all-India decrease in headcount of child marriage in girls observed between 1993 and 2021.
  • West Bengal saw the largest absolute increase with over 500000 more girls married as children.

Bio-Imaging Bank

AI can help detect cancer and India’s biggest cancer treatment hospital is utilizing it.

Bio imaging

  • It is an optical form of biosensing used to create non-invasive, visual representations of biological processes in cells, tissues, and anatomy for more accurate diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Biosensing is a detection of target molecules based on the principles used by a living system such as an immune system.

  • Aim - Bioimaging aims to interfere as little as possible with life processes.
  • Uses - Moreover, it is often used to gain information on the 3-D structure of the observed specimen from the outside, i.e. without physical interference.
  • Bioimaging also includes methods visualizing biological material that has been fixed for observation.

The Bank

  • Background - By established a ‘Bio-Imaging Bank’ for cancer, hospitals are utilizing deep learning to craft a cancer-specific tailored algorithm that aids in early-stage cancer detection.
  • Goal - To create a robust repository encompassing radiology and pathology images, intricately linked with clinical information, outcome data, treatment specifics, and additional metadata.
  • Design - This comprehensive resource is strategically designed for the training, validation, and rigorous testing of AI algorithms.
  • Fund - The project is funded by the Department of Biotechnology, in collaboration with IIT-Bombay, RGCIRC-New Delhi, AIIMS-New Delhi, and PGIMER-Chandigarh.
  • Method - Segmenting and annotating images, outlining tumours, identifying different features, and annotating them as malignant, inflammatory, or edematous.
  • Biopsy results, histopathology, immunohistochemistry reports, and genomic sequences are correlated with images and clinical data to develop diverse algorithms.

Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) has already added the data of 60,000 patients into the biobank over the previous year, started using AI to reduce radiation exposure for paediatric patients undergoing CT scans.


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