NEW DELHI: Delhi may get to see President Barack Obama once more soon. Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s war against the government’s apathy to child slavery is getting a global boost. He plans to bring here together, on one platform, Nobel laureates Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Shirin Ebadi, Malala Yousafzai, Muhammad Yunus, Betty Williams and F W de Klerk to champion the cause.
Satyarthi will declare the date soon, which may even be before the US elections get over. The low-key crusader sporting a trademark kurta-pyjama, and salt and pepper beard says, “The idea is to create a voice that governments and UN agencies can’t break with their bureaucratic frameworks. A strong moral force that will push for a holistic policy agenda and on the basis of experience and learning from grassroots, and will question and change policies that are adversely affecting children.”
Satyarthi’s organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan has saved more than 82,000 children from exploitation. The conclave will be an ongoing exercise, with each consecutive meeting to be held in a new country.
In June 2015, child right organisations gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, where Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi called for freedom for the world’s children from slavery, labour, abuse, trafficking and illiteracy.
A recent World Bank study conducted in 50 countries estimated every year of schooling will bring a return of an additional 0.37 per cent GDP growth rate. There are 168 million child workers and 200 million unemployed adults in the world.
“It is not a dearth of jobs but illiteracy, poverty and lack of stricter laws that give people the moral confidence to hire children as cheap labour,” says the Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Today, 41 per cent of the Indian population is below 18 years of age. “We only spend 4 per cent of our budget on this segment. How can we consider them a dividend if we don’t invest in them?” Satyarthi asks. He had hoped to work hand-in-hand with the government to implement and enforce the new law on child labour. “Laws are merely tools. What we need are hands to work on those tools. And those are the hands of very ordinary people,” says the child rights activist.