By Veda Nadendla:
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on Friday, October 10th 2014, to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai; a sixty year old man and a seventeen year old girl. Apart from an international stage shared by an Indian and a Pakistani, the Prize was given to two people who have tirelessly worked toward the good of the people in need, especially children. People on both sides of the border wonder, “is this the beginning of a new tie?”
Malala Yousafzai is a seventeen year old young woman from Pakistan who has fought for the rights of the children of her valley when they were not allowed to study or go to school. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman, who stopped her bus, asked for her name and didn’t spare a second in attacking her. The bullet shattered her skull, but not her spirit and she kept fighting for the rights of children in Pakistan. She is also the youngest to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Kailash Satyarthi is a veteran child rights activist in India and also the founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a grassroots organization for the protection of children and for their quality education. Bachpan Bachao Andolan has rescued more than 82,800 victims of child labour, trafficking and slavery and has helped them develop into well-rounded citizens of our country, giving them a good education and a brighter future. Satyarthi has been a role model forÂ many youngsters in the country and India stands a proud nation to see that his tireless efforts and contributions since 1980 have been recognized.
Upon winning the prestigious award, Malala stated how honoured she was to be sharing the stage with someone as inspiring as Kailash Satyarthi. She stated that whenever she goes to speak publicly, the podium is taller than her, and that this time she is happy to see that it suits her perfectly. In her speech, Malala emphasized how Satyarthi’s work completely inspired her to be fearless and stand up for herself. “It does not matter what’s the colour of your skin, what language you speak, what religion you believe in; it is that we should all consider each other as human beings. We should respect each other and fight for our rights, for the rights of children, women and for the rights of every human being who is wronged.” As her speech went on, this young lady of seventeen exemplified maturity as she expressed that the award is not just a piece of metal for her, it is an encouragement, the beginning of a journey, it shows her that there are people supporting her, people who believe in her, and for all those people she will keep going.
Back home, young India awaits Kailash Satyarthi, as they seek to share his joy and honour him. ‘Badhte Kadam’, The federation of Street and Working Children in Delhi, has gotten in touch with Mr. Satyarthi and requested him to spend an hour with the children who are eager to know about his journey toward the Nobel Prize. In an interview, 20-year-old former street child Vijay Kumar, who is now the Advisor to Badhte Kadam, expressed, “We all are really impressed and glad to note about Mr Satyarthi getting Nobel Prize for his work towards child labour. I called his office and seek his time for children and he happily agreed.” Vijay dreams that one day, he too will win the Nobel for his work for child rights, inspired by Kailash Satyarthi’s tireless contributions over the years, said Sanjay Gupta in an interview. Sanjay Gupta is the Director of an NGO Chetna that facilitates the functioning of Badhte Kadam.Â He said that the children from Badhte Kadam approached him with a request to felicitate Mr. Satyarthi for his achievements and contribution, to which he gladly agreed.
“I got to know this yesterday through TV. We recently attended one book launch function where we got to meet Mr Satyarthi. I will ask him to show us the road of success, and be with us in making India child friendly when I meet him again” said Chandni, sixteen year old National Secretary of Badhte Kadam in an interview. Fourteen year old Raja, who is a member of Badhte Kadam and also a rag picker, said he is not aware of this news, “I have not heard of any such news, one fact I know that I will not be able to eat in night if I stop work.”
Reminding us of the thousands of children like Raja, who have been saved and given a better future, the chance to live a complete life, Kailash Satyarthi has personified activism unlike ever. Young Malala herself being a child has given hope to children across the world that they too have a voice, and they have support; all they have to do is speak up. Some say that Malala is too young to have deserved the award, while some people say that there should have been only one winner, some are speaking about the irony of India-Pakistan on the same stage sharing the ‘peace’ award. There are also speculations that an entity such as ‘peace’ should not be quantified by an award. I say that we need leaders, we need examples, we need people like Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi to show us that age, gender, race, religion and situation are no bar for action. A voice is enough to begin with, the movement will follow.