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100 million for 100 million: Nobel Laureates, leaders launch child rights campaign

In passing amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, earlier this year, India’s political class failed the children of the country. To put it mildly, this was a devastating move. Instead of banning child labour in its entirety, the new law allowed for children to work in family enterprises and reduced the list of banned jobs for children from 83 to just three.

Now, it is legal for a child to work in a brick kiln, a blast furnace, or a garment factory provided the owner is able to convince the authorities that he or she is related to the child. With India’s wide and lose kinship structures, anybody can easily be proved to be related to anybody. This has opened a backdoor for children to be forced to join the workforce.

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Each morning, 168 million child labourers struggle in the harshest of conditions instead of learning in school. Of them, 5.5 million are child slaves. Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi had his sight fixed on eradicating child labour and hasn’t been dismayed by how non-conducive the state of affairs in the country are. His struggle bears testimony to the fact that there is no time and no need for cynicism because a lot of lives are in need of urgent help.

While the government essentially negated Satyarthi’s 36-years of hard work, in which he rescued more than 84,000 children, the 2014 Nobel Peace Laureate decided to build a singular moral voice that speaks for humanity, not with political agenda or for economic gain, but a voice that cuts through wry debates and blame-games; a voice for those who need it the most. Child slavery is a modern reality. In India, 41 percent of the population is below the age of 18 but as Satyarthi puts it, if we don’t invest in them we cannot consider them a dividend.

On Sunday, the ‘100 million for 100 million’ campaign was flagged off by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan’s forecourt, amid the presence of laureates and leaders from across the world and hundreds of children. The campaign will call upon 100 million young people to learn about their own rights and the lives of other children, who live in unimaginable situations caused by conflict, exploitation and extreme poverty to build a child-friendly world.

Satyarthi’s foundation plans major campaigns and outreach events in 10 countries, covering every continent. By 2019, the campaign will operate in over 60 countries worldwide and would have secured 40 million supporters. The campaign’s success will be measured by a change in public opinion on issues of child labour, exploitation and child refugees, the number of young people taking action on behalf of the other young people around the world and over the longer term, the policy and practice change and improved outcomes, such as the global reduction in the number of child labourers.

“We need both a top-down policy approach and a bottom-up social initiative,” said Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He added that all the evidence needs to be collected and combined in a way that it assists policy makers. “We need to speak louder and jump higher,” he exclaimed.

“Child rights cannot be tackled in isolation. Unless we deal with large-scale problems like poverty, social injustice and terrorism, we cannot uproot this social evil. Even the best policies are not implemented on-ground because there is massive corruption,” noted Tawakkol Karman, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate from Yemen. She suggested that since the summit was launched in India, the country should become the headquarters of the international alliance for protecting kids’ rights.

In conversation with the children, Leymah Roberta Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, said, “The number of displaced people are growing and we don’t have time. We need to identify efforts people are making in different pockets of the world and seek global solutions.” The solution, the dignitaries established, is going local and identifying complex realities on-ground and then developing solutions that are global; unless people learn from each other, the world won’t change for the better. As Lorena Castillo, the First Lady of Panama put it, “let’s pledge to make a world child-labour free. We will use our voices to amplify voices of millions.”

What happened in the momentous confines of the Rashtrapati Bhavan was historic and unprecedented. In the Indian capital, the first chapter of the Laureates & Leaders for Children Summit gave the world the message that a child’s arms cannot be stretched to the left and to the right. Children cannot suffer at the hands of ego-driven ideology clashes and lethargic policies. India’s political leaders, with the exception of Piyush Goyal Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, didn’t address the summit. Among other things, the world leaders concluded that we need greater political awareness and that the moral deficit is nowhere but inside our willingness.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 18:13 IST

India’s efforts to protect children fail due lack of budget – Kailash Satyarthi | Reuters

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – India’s efforts to improve the lives of its children are failing due to meagre government spending on the youth, Nobel peace laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi said on Monday, as the country marked its annual “Children’s Day”.Children’s Day, or Bal Divas, coinciding with the birthday of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, is marked by events such as cultural performances in schools.”Our nation has the world’s highest number of malnourished children, child labour and children vulnerable to sexual offences, (yet) it is unfortunate this section of the society receives the lowest budgetary allocation,” Satyarthi said.”All our efforts for the development of children fail with such disproportionate investment,” he said in a statement.Children make up more than 40 percent of India’s almost 1.3 billion population, yet only four percent of the budget is allocated to under-18s, he said.India has made considerable progress in curbing the exploitation of children over the last decade. It has introduced laws to protect children and ensure their schooling, as well as a range of social welfare schemes. But activists say implementation is lacking in combating issues such as child labour and sexual exploitation.

A February 2015 report by the International Labour Organization puts the number of child workers in India aged between five and 17 at 5.7 million, out of 168 million globally.More than half are in agriculture, toiling in cotton, sugarcane and rice paddy fields where they are often exposed to pesticides and risk injury from sharp tools and heavy equipment.Over a quarter work in manufacturing – confined to poorly lit, barely ventilated rooms in slums, embroidering clothes, weaving carpets, making matchsticks or rolling beedi cigarettes.

Children also work in restaurants and hotels, washing dishes and chopping vegetables, or in middle-class homes, cleaning and scrubbing floors.Other crimes against children are also a serious concern, say activists. There were over 94,000 crimes against children recorded in 2015, an increase of more than five percent from the previous year, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).Crimes included murder, infanticide, kidnapping and abduction, abandonment and procuration of minor girls. Almost 30 percent were sexual offences, including rape, said NCRB data.

Satyarthi, whose charity Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) is credited with rescuing more than 80,000 enslaved children, said a child goes missing in India every eight minutes. He appealed to legislators across all political parties to devote one day to the discussion of child rights during the last session of parliament this year, which begins on Wednesday.”Although significant progress has been made for the protection of child rights, critical challenges continue due to gaps in policy and their implementation,” he said.”The fight against child labour, child trafficking and child sexual abuse need higher political will,” added Satyarthi, who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai. (Reporting by Nita Bhalla, editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 22:28 IST

Pampore attack – Our govt’s Pakistan policy has completely failed: Yashwant Sinha

Senior BJP leader and former Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha on Sunday again criticised the Modi government for engaging Pakistan in peace talk, in view of the recent Pampore attacks. “If it is true that the two terrorists killed yesterday were Pakistanis, then it is clear that it is a war-like situation between India-Pakistan.”With great sadness, I would like to say that our government’s Pakistan policy has completely failed. The sooner we stop pursuing this kind of policy towards Pakistan the better,” said the veteran politician.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sinha also said that he was against India’s bid for NSG membership. “Would like to say strongly that India must not accept NSG membership, there is no need to go there as an applicant. If today we get the NSG membership, we will be the ‘loser’. It will be a loss for us, no benefit,” he said.”Indian Govt is being regularly misguided by some people sitting in the Govt (on entry into NSG),” he added.Sinha had earlier too disapproved India-Pakistan peace process. He wanted the NSA talks between the nations to be called off. “From the time of Vajpayee government it has been our policy that terror and talks cannot go together. This is the consistent policy of BJP as well….The talks should be called off,” he had said He had also taken a jibe against PM Modi saying PMs after Vajpayee have cherished the thought of getting Nobel Peace Award by resolving Indo-Pak dispute.With agency inputs.

Nobel laureate urges PM Modi to curb child slavery as India reels from drought | Reuters

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi has appealed to the prime minister of India to prioritise children and ensure they are not trafficked, forced into marriage or put into bonded labour as the country reels from its worst drought in decades.

In a letter to Narendra Modi, the child rights activist urged him to declare the drought a national emergency, saying that the lives of more than 160 million children were at stake.

“Reports of children being forced into child labour, trafficking, child marriage, and the devadasi (dedicating girls to service in temples) system are coming to light with children increasingly dropping out from school … and large scale migration due to this crisis,” Satyarthi wrote.

The letter was circulated to the media on Tuesday by his office.

“Owing to this drought and the on-going water crisis, children are becoming increasingly vulnerable. In the coming months, there is an increased risk of lakhs (hundreds of thousands) of children becoming victims of these circumstances.”

The government estimates more than 330 million people – almost a quarter of India’s population – have been hit by the scarcity of water in states such as Maharashtra in the west and Karnataka in the south.

As crops wither and livestock perish, ten of thousands of people are migrating in search of food, water and jobs, leaving behind women, children and older family members who are vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers.

Figures given by Satyarthi’s office showed the number of children dropping out of school in the ten drought-affected states had risen by 22 percent, while child trafficking cases had increased by 24 percent.

Satyarthi, who was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, ended his letter calling upon Modi make children “a top priority” in the government’s relief and rehabilitation efforts.

(Reporting by Nita Bhalla, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Sri Sri Ravishankar to be nominated for Nobel Peace Prize?

There are a lot of names doing the rounds for this year’s list of nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize. And one of them is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.A report in Hindustan Times states that the founder of the Art of Living Foundation has been key in the peace negotiations in Columbia. The Thompson Reuters foundation has stated on its blog, “The Norwegian Nobel Institute does not publish names of nominees, but Nobel watchers have said former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden and peace negotiators in Colombia have also been nominated.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The possible list of nominees includes an 85-year-old Greek grandmother photographed bottle-feeding a Syrian baby refugee and Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon for her work for refugees in Greece, says the daily. But the Art of Living Foundation spokesperson has told the daily that they were not aware of Sri Sri’s nomination. The report adds that the Art of Living Foundation played an important role in bringing peace in Columbia since November 2012. The Columbian government had in July, 2015, honoured Sri Sri with their highest civilian award, ‘Orden de la Democracia Simón Bolívar’, in recognition of his work. When he was in Cuba in 2015, Sri Sri also held discussions with leaders of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) as part of a confidence building measure in Columbia, adds the report. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was conferred the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, in January this year.The nominee list for the Nobel Peace Prize closes on February 1 and is announced in October. Three Indians have received it so far – Mother Teresa (1979), founder of Missionaries of Charity, the 14th Dalai Lama (1989), head of the Tibetan government in exile, and children’s rights and education advocate Kailash Satyarthi (2014) who shared the distinction with Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.