Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi Appeals to MPs to Pass Anti-Child Labour Bill

Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi Appeals to MPs to Pass Anti-Child Labour Bill

Nobel Laureate Kailash Sathyarthi and his wife Sumedha, during their visit to Rajghat on their return to India after the Nobel ceremony. (Press Trust of India)

New Delhi:  Making a strong pitch for the passage of a pending legislation against child labour, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi today said history "won't forgive" the MPs if they fail in the task.

"I want to make an earnest appeal to all Parliamentarians, and also to other leaders to facilitate the passage of the key legislation failing which history and children of India won't forgive them," Mr Satyarthi said at a press conference here after his return from Oslo, where he was conferred the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr Satyarthi said he wants child labour to go into the "pages of history".

"Gandhiji turned truth, non-violence and peace into a mass movement. My appeal is to turn compassion into a mass movement. Let us globalise compassion," the Nobel laureate added.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment (CLPRA) Bill, if passed, will prohibit employment of children below 14 years in any occupation, bringing the law in consistency with the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.

Earlier, Mr Satyarthi accompanied by his wife Sumedha, visited Mahatma Gandhi's memorial at Rajghat where they paid homage to the father of the nation.

60-year-old Satyarthi, an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi, said that he could "visualise Gandhi walking towards the stage" to receive the award while he was sitting at the podium at the ceremony in Oslo.

"When I was sitting at the podium, I was remembering him (Gandhiji) every single moment. I could visualise him walking towards the stage to receive the award," said an emotional Mr Satyarthi.

On being asked how he would spend the prize money, Mr Satyarthi said that he had previously "never seen" that much money in his life, quickly adding that he would spend "every single penny" for the cause of children in India and globally.

"I have never seen or touched that amount of money in my life before. But I can assure you that every single penny will go to the cause of children in my country and globally. The money won't even go to my own NGO," he said.

After landing in India in the wee hours today, Mr Satyarthi tweeted, "Jai Hind. No words to express my feelings" adding "Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Heartfelt welcome home by fellow Indians".

Mr Satyarthi, who jointly received the award along with Pakistani teenager and education activist Malala Yousufzai, said that "sustainable peace" between India and Pakistan could only result from more mutual cooperation.

"I am not a politician but as far as I understand more people to people contact, mutual cooperation is required for any kind of sustainable peace between the two countries," he said.

Mr Satyarthi's image of comforting Malala, when she broke down after seeing her blood-splattered clothes she was wearing the day she was attacked by the Taliban, at an exhibition in Oslo, was splashed by the media across the world.

Expressing his gratitude to India's "vibrant democracy and the judiciary", Mr Satyarthi said that change was "knocking a the door" which needs to be acted upon.

"I am grateful to India's vibrant democracy and the judicial system without which I could not have achieved anything. But at the same time I would like to say that change, hope, progress is knocking at the door. We need to act now," the crusader against child labour said.

Mr Satyarthi said that the award has increased the weight of "moral responsibility" on his shoulders and that his job wouldn't be complete till the day a "single child is enslaved".

The son of a police officer and hailing from Madhya Pradesh, Mr Satyarthi also spoke about few "emotional moments" and how his friends and family called him "crazy" when he left his job as an engineer to join activism.

"There were emotional moments in my family when I left my engineering job and joined activism. My friends said that I am working for a non-issue and they called me crazy," the father of two said.

Mr Satyarthi's NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement) prides itself in liberating over 80,000 children from bonded labour in factories and workshops across India.

Awarding the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize on Mr Satyarthi and Ms Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Committee said that "Satyarthi and Yousafzai are precisely the people whom Alfred Nobel in his will calls 'champions of peace".

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