Nobel is a statement: Satyarthi

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 Pakistani at a time when tension is brewing in between both the neighbours. I spoke to Satyarthi, hours after the Nobel  announcement.

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How do you view this award?

This honour is not for an individual. It is for those crores of children who remain anonymous, who remain victims of child labour. I wish that all children across the world got opportunity to live their life to 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 (MP), 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 unable to digest. Why were some children born to work while some others like me getting education and other facilities?

You sharing the price with Malala Yousafzay have come at a time there is tension between two countries.

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.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Oct 11, 2014)

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