Let's globalise compassion for children, says laureate

Nobel feat: Child rights activist says kids should be born in peace, be able to enjoy childhood

Let's globalise compassion for children, says laureate

Kailash Satyarthi believes the Nobel Prize for Peace belongs to crores of children who are still dreaming of freedom. He also knows the significance of the prize, which he shares with a Pakistan national at a time when tension is brewing along the border  between the two neighbours. He spoke to Shemin Joy of Deccan Herald in New Delhi.

How do you view this award?

This honour is not for an individual. It is for crores of children who remain anonymous, who remain victims of child labour. I wish that all children across the world got an opportunity to live life to the fullest. Let they be free from all chains. Let them have an opportunity to enjoy childhood. People talk about globalisation of economy and market. They talk about globalisation of knowledge. I call upon people to globalise compassion for children.

You have brought laurels to India.

I am proud of being an Indian. India is a mother of hundreds of problems but at the same time, it is also a mother of hundreds of solution. The problem of child labour is a problem of the world.

Even before the UN had a convention on child labour in 1982, I had started work on the issue. India was the first to take note of the problem. We Indians are able to find solutions not just for us but also for the whole world. That is why I believe this also is an honour for 125 crore Indians.

How were you drawn into the issue of child labour?

It was a blind start. It was born out of a compassion for a child. When I went to school for the first time, in Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh), I saw a boy of my age who was repairing a shoe along with his father. When I was entering the school, I encountered the situation that I was going to school with lots of enthusiasm and excitement, on the other hand, a child is fighting for his childhood. I asked my teacher, why is it so.

They told me they were poor and they don't have money for education. It was not convincing for me. Though scared, one day I asked his father why he was not sending his child to school.

He looked at me, and answered, ‘we are born to work’. It was difficult to digest.

Why were some children born to work while some others like me are getting education and other facilities?

You sharing the prize with Malala have come at a time there is tension between India and Pakistan.

I think it is a statement from the Nobel Committee. That statement has to be read in that context, which is in between the lines. It should be understood not just by the governments of both sides but also by everyone, Indians and Pakistanis.

Let us give the children in both the countries an opportunity to live in peace. Children should be born in peace, they should grow in peace and they should enjoy fullest of their childhood. Peace is inevitable.

NGOs express shock over Nobel Committee’s choice

Non-Governmental Organisations in India have expressed surprise over the Nobel Committee’s choice of Kailash Satyarthi for this year’s Peace Prize, pointing out that several other NGOs have done more commendable job in uplifting the poor, DHNS reports from New Delhi. “Maybe, the Nobel Committee has given priority to the cause he was championing. Again, many among the NGOs are active on the front of changing the lives of children from the poor section of the society,” a veteran social activist told Deccan Herald.

“It may be due to the international exposure he gave to his works. But whatever might be the reason, it is really remarkable for him to get such an honour when even a person like Mahatma Gandhi missed it,” he said. Satyarthi has never been without controversy. He had a bitter fallout with his mentor Swami Agnivesh, who started the Bandhua Mukti Morcha ( Bonded Liberation Front) in 1981 to figtht slavery in India. Relationship between Satyarthi and Agnivesh went so bad that they fought out their differences in public.

Since his fallout with Agnivesh in the nineties, Satyarthi started Bachpan Bachao Andolan and never looked back. The duo has made competing claims about liberating the maximum number of bonded labourers. While Satyarthi claims he had liberated 82,000 children from bondage, Agnivesh has said he had liberated 1,24,000 bonded labourers.

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