Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi attended the Vijayadashami (Dussehra) programme of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on October 18, 2018. This is not only a defining step in the movement for child rights, but also a watershed moment of nation-building in our times. Kailash Satyarthi declared his vision on the podium of the RSS and awakened its leaders and workers to the need for compassion and inclusivity. During the event, Satyarthi claimed that he celebrates the splendour of India’s diversity and sew Ishwar (God) in the eyes of a Muslim girl he rescued from slavery. He asserted that Dussehra not only marks the victory of Lord Ram, but also the triumph of the deprived and excluded people of India over a cruel power-hungry ruler under the leadership of an exiled prince. He further noted that he measures a nation’s development by the well being of a Dalit girl in the remote villages of India. Satyarthi’s speech on inclusivity from at an RSS event is a giant leap towards a unified and compassionate India.
Thousands of us log on to our digital profiles every day, exercising the power of our words to establish ideas of the anticipated new world order. We often reinforce our own opinions, bloat our very own echo chambers and retire for the day satisfied to have changed the world just a little bit. Every single day we build our wall of fear higher and higher, fooling ourselves that if we were to build them high enough, the other side would cease to exist.
As right-wingers take pride to have hijacked a peace laureate as a mascot for their cause, and left-wingers cry foul and allege betrayal, both of them have missed the point completely. In 40 years of his struggle for protecting children, there is no door that he hasn’t knocked, no stage he hasn’t spoken from and no individual or groups he has not engaged with for his crusade. Neither he and his cause have ever been limited to any political or religious belief, nor can it ever be held hostage to it. The RSS is no exception to this truth. There is no endorsement by association, nor guilt by it. He has often stated that his only ideology and only religion has been children, a fight from which he has refused to step down even at gunpoint. And for those who ask how they may lend their efforts towards his mission, he will show them the way.
He has fought this battle for 40 years. And he has not fought it alone. Individuals from every religion and groups of every ideology have fought with him shoulder to shoulder and laid down their lives for it. He understands that a challenge of this magnitude cannot be fought single-handedly or by a section of society. He needs each one to realise their stake in a safe world for children, and to fight together to achieve it. If these walls are ever to be shattered, it has to be for the millions of children who get sold into prostitution, are raped and enslaved every single day in India.
We must understand that peace cannot be achieved in a vacuum.