The father of the Global Child Rights Movement, Kailash Satyarthi, is an internationally acclaimed child rights activist. His endeavours have been effortless since the past four decades, restoring the rights of the marginalised, giving a voice to the voiceless, and protecting the exploited from over 140 countries.
He has been instrumental in bringing hushed incidents to the global limelight; from upholding the rights of children to protecting their identity, his sacrifices were applauded. In 2014, Satyarthi had Indians boasting with pride, for going down in history, as the first Indian to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
On day one of the YKA Summit 2019, Satyarthi was welcomed with echoing applause! He left the audience speechless, as his thoughts evoked the senses of every single member in the auditorium. As he braced the stage with his presence, he narrated, “Every single minute matters, every single child matters, every single childhood matters.”
Reinstating the country’s belief in the youth of the nation, he said, “I always believed that Youth Ki Awaaz is the voice of change, the voice of the youth is the voice of struggle and construction.” Disregarding whether the youth is in consensus or not, he believes, what matters is the voice of the truth, which can never be suppressed.
“No change in the world has been possible without the voice of the youth”. He takes pride while saying that the sole foundation of change is the youth. “The radiance of the youth makes me believe that India is in safe hands.”
Satyarthi’s fight since the past 40 years has been in association with a number of youth associations, as he goes ahead mocking Trump’s fetish for building walls, he reiterates, “the youth believes not in building walls but in breaking these walls – the walls of regression, the walls of injustice, of hatred, of abuse and violence; breaking these walls is the duty of the youth.”
Enlisting a number of youth revolutions, from Greta Thunberg’s ‘Fridays for Future’, to Hong Kong’s fight for democracy, from Africa’s effort in stating slavery as unacceptable, to Chile’s revolution led by young leaders, Satyarthi said, “the youth today challenges the leaders and says enough is enough!”
He praised the youth for standing up and questioning the present-day society, politics and economy, which is driven by economic indifferences, violence and inequalities. “The politics of hate, of division, of xenophobia, Islamophobia, individualism, majoritarianism, is being challenged by the youth thoroughly all over the globe!”
The implementation of ‘Naya Bharat’ is not just the government’s duty but the collaborative effort of the citizens of India! Narrating an old experience, dating back 50 years, he recounts his efforts in breaking down the very regressive and problematic system of ‘jati pratha’.
He talked about an incident when some influential politicians claimed to walk down the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi, yet denied a feast cooked by the hands of what they called, “untouchable” women; Kailash Satyarthi was met with immense flak from his own people for going against this practice.
Labelled by his own people as “paapi” for touching the very “impurity” of the lower caste. “Gandagi karne vale shudh hai, ya gandagi saaf karne wale? (The people who create the mess are pure or the people who clean the mess?) Following this incident, he was socially boycotted, “Social boycott is a bigger punishment than any punishment given by the judiciary”.
As anger erupted in every part of his body, he rebelled. “Anger is an energy that never vanishes; if you keep on suppressing your anger, then it would be diverted to violence, hatred, revenge; keep this anger within yourself and divert it towards constructive work.”
Kailash Satyarthi abandoned the Jati structure by abandoning the surname, which asserted that he was a ‘Brahman’; he gave a new name to himself – Satyarthi – the ‘speaker of the truth’.
Talking about his work in the field of child rights, he reminds the audience, that every one hour, eight children are sold as child slaves, and become child prostitutes; they fall victim to the vicious cycle of illegal organ trafficking.
Every one hour, four children fall victim to child sexual abuse, heinous rapes and gang-rapes. Satyarthi reminds the audience of the intensity of the heinous crimes, as in most cases, the rapist is a family member or someone known to the survivor.
“The country of Ram, the country of Krishna, the country of Mahavir and Guru Nanak, the country of Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, of Ram Prasad Bismil and Asfargullah Khan, the country of Buddha and Gandhi, is a blot on the name of Goddesses and women! Such hypocrisy!”
He urges the audience to think of the last person of society, who stands the most vulnerable. The politics of today’s day propagates more and more uncertainty, more fear and insecurity in our day-to-day life. As the audience echoed their claps time and again in the auditorium, Satyarthi left every person spell-bound! He asked us to aim for a ‘Bhayamukt Bharat’ (an India without fear).
Talking about democracy, he says, “only through dialogue and debate can truth be attained. If dissent and disagreement are scrapped off, if diversity is not acknowledged, it would hurt the very soul of India and weaken our democracy!”
He encourages the youth to be the ears of society, the ears of the government and the ears of the entire universe, only then can ‘Aazadi’ (freedom) be reverberated in reality.
Concluding his powerful statement, he made the audience recall the power of a single drop of water, the power of a small beak of water and the power of one. “I am doing my bit” can change the world. “All hatred, all injustices and abuse can be curbed only if the youth raises their voices.” As the audience erupted in cheer and praise, Satyarthi referred to the current times and quoted, “let us march together, no one should be left behind!”.