Nobel Peace Prize to Kailash Satyarthi is a recognition to three decades of his selfless service to protect childhood. He gave up his job as an electrical engineer to dedicate himself to protecting and advancing child rights for over three decades now, freeing 80,000 child labourers and giving them new hope in life. It is largely due to his doggedness and zeal that NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan has emerged as by far the most prominent child rights group in the country even as 60- year-old Satyarthi rose to become a global voice for the children’s cause. He has passionately argued that child trafficking and labour perpetuate poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and population growth.
From the factories exploiting children in the country’s biggest cities like Delhi and Mumbai to the hinterland of Odisha and Jharkhand where children are still illegally employed as bonded labourers, his organisation has rescued them in almost all parts of country. He has advocated for stricter laws against child trafficking and labour and met with mixed success so far. While growing up, Satyarthi has said he was concerned about the plight of child labourers around him and it finally prompted him to start an organised movement.
His early attempts to raid factories employing child labourers met with hostile reaction from the factory owners and at times the police but the significance of his work was slowly recognised. He also played an important role in the movement for Right to Education law for free compulsory education to children. Several prestigious awards have been conferred on him, including Defenders of Democracy Award (2009-US), Medal of the Italian Senate (2007-Italy), Robert F Kennedy International Human Rights Award (USA) and Fredric Ebert International Human Rights Award (Germany) etc.
– Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief