Population: Over 1.2 billion
Government: Federal Republic
Land Mass: 1,269,219 million square miles
Currency: Indian rupee
Primary Religion: Hindu, followed by Muslim and Christian
Infant Mortality Rate (per 1,000 births): 43.8

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A cradle of civilization, India is one of the oldest cultures in the world. This centuries-old center of economic and cultural wealth is the world’s largest democracy. It is also a study in contrasts. Monumental architecture and stunning cultural beauty exist side by side with slums overflowing with garbage and despair. And, while many Indians are enjoying the technological and economic booms that have characterized the nation over the last decade, millions still live in extreme poverty. Sponsorship through Children International gives hope to the poorest children and an opportunity to participate in their country’s growth.


Children International works in the areas of Kolkata and Delhi. Our agency in Kolkata serves children and youth in three urban slums and throughout villages in nine rural districts of West Bengal. Our agency in Delhi supports boys and girls in the Bawana slum, an underdeveloped resettlement colony on the outskirts of the city. In both areas, children and their families suffer from unsanitary conditions, substandard housing, inadequate health care, nutritional deficiencies and limited educational opportunities.

Needy children in India


  • India has the third highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world, with an estimated 2.4 million people living with the disease.

  • More children under age 5 are underweight in India than any other country in the world. Nearly 45% of Indian children struggle with inadequate nutrition.

  • Over a quarter of India’s population lives below the poverty line, meaning they cannot afford basic goods.

  • Close to 70% of India’s population lacks adequate sanitation and drainage systems. This creates a breeding ground for such diseases as hepatitis A and C, typhoid fever and bacterial infections.


Nearly 30% of India’s 1.2 billion people are impoverished. Sponsored families in Kolkata, for instance, earn an average income of roughly $64 a month, 80% of which is used for basic necessities like food, water and clothing. And in Delhi, many sponsored families struggle to survive on less than $2 a day. Even though the city boasts the second highest per capita income in the country, there are few job opportunities near the slum where sponsored families live, so most scrape by on the erratic wages they earn as unskilled laborers.


  • More than 28,000 sponsored children and youth receive vital assistance like free medical and dental care, nutritional support, educational assistance, family aid, clothing, school supplies and uniforms, shoes and more.

  • CI community centers in India provide access to early childhood education, computers, libraries, tutors and more.

  • There are nearly 500 volunteers residing in sponsorship communities who keep children and families informed about sponsorship activities and help organize gift distributions, community meetings and more.

  • Aggressive anti-parasite and tuberculosis treatment campaigns are carried out as needed to address two of the most common health risks children and their families confront in congested, unsanitary areas.

  • Our Youth Program gives impoverished teens opportunities to participate in community improvement, develop leadership abilities and job skills, learn about finances and participate in organized sports.

  • HOPE scholarships are granted annually to eligible sponsored youth who wish to continue their secondary education, pursue a college or university degree or complete vocational training.

The Full Story

Click on the titles below to watch videos and slideshows or read stories about our programs in India:

Changed Lives at Chanda High

Needy children in India

Subhajyoti Das is one of the 1,400 students attending Chanda High School in West Bengal, India. His parents, and sponsorship, have been with him every step of the way. More...
September 1, 2009 – Tags: escaping poverty through education

Our Lives in Kolkata
March 1, 2011 – Tags: video tour of Kolkata slums, day in the life of sponsored kids

Sponsorship in India
April 11, 2008 – Tags: sponsorship video, poverty and sponsorship in India