Kailash Satyarthi says Nobel Peace Prize a big honor to hundreds of millions of children

Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi.

New Delhi, Oct 10: Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, who shared the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani teenager Malala Yousufzai, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain.

Kailash Satyarthi remembers his first day in school when he saw a young boy polishing shoes outside the school gates. The memory of that incident stayed with him and he gave up a career in engineering to spend his life fighting India’s endemic child labor, he told an international news agency on Friday.

“It was a very sharp contrast” he says of watching that boy, unable to go to school, clean the shoes of other little children who had the “hopes and aspirations” that education brings.

Kailash Satyarthi said: “I strongly feel that this is a big honor to hundreds of millions of the children who have been deprived of their childhood and freedom and education. So it’s a big challenge and this will help in our fight against child labor and child slavery globally, and particularly in my own country.”

Satyarthi was born in Vidisha in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh in 1954 and studied to be an electrical engineer. He abandoned that career path in the early 1980s to start helping children who were forced to quit school and start working, often at dangerous jobs, to support their families.

He founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Children Movement, because he believed that child labor “isn’t just about poverty. It’s more than that.”

He says the state and society have failed children, making them give up their childhood and education.

He helped free thousands of children from slave-labor conditions and advocated reforms as the leader of Bachpan Bachao Andolan and director of the South Asia Coalition on Child Servitude.

Satyarthi and others from his organization conducted raids on poorly lit and cramped workshops where dozens of children were illegally forced to weave carpets or saris. He would ask reporters and photographers to accompany his volunteers on the raids.

Dozens of scared and confused children would pour out of factories and sweatshops that his group raided.

He says the job was not without risks, and he often faced threats from factory owners. At least two people who worked with him were killed, he says.

Child labor remains widespread in India. An estimated 13 million children work, many in hazardous industries.

In 2006 India also banned the hiring of children under 14 as servants in homes or as workers in restaurants, tea shops, hotels or spas. But such laws continue to be routinely flouted.

President, VP, Prime Minister congratulate Kailash Satyarthi

President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President M. Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Kailash Satyarthi on winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to abolish child labour in India.

President has said, “The prize should be seen as recognition of the contributions of India’s vibrant civil society in addressing complex social problems such as child labour and the important role played by them in collaboration with the Government in the nation’s efforts to eliminate all forms of child labour in the country”.

The Vice President congratulated Kailash Satyarthi on being awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Malala Yusufzai of Pakistan. In his message, he said that this is a richly deserved recognition for two remarkable human beings, who have worked tirelessly and fearlessly, against all odds, to protect and promote the rights of the child.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in congratulatory message said: “Congratulations to Shri Kailash Satyarthi on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The entire nation is proud of his momentous achievement. Shri Kailash Satyarthi has devoted his life to a cause that is extremely relevant to entire humankind. I salute his determined efforts.”

The PM also congratulated Pakistan`s Ms Malala Yousafzai on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Malala Yousafzai`s life is a journey of immense grit and courage. I congratulate her on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,” the Prime Minister said.

(Goindianews Bureau/Agency Inputs)

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