When will children become a political priority, asks Satyarthi

 Notwithstanding the suffering of the common people, Kailash Satyarthi supports the government’s demonetisation move as it will help curb trafficking, but the Nobel laureate and child-rights crusader asserts that unless and until children become a political priority, India will continue to be dogged by the evils of child labour and child trafficking.

And endeavouring to ignite a social movement are his two initiatives: “Laureates & Leaders for Children” and “100 Million for 100 Million”.

The Laureates & Leaders for Children summit, to be held in December at Rashtrapati Bhavan, has attracted over a dozen Nobel laureates and global leaders, including the Dalai Lama, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee , Australia’s first woman Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Princess Charlene of Monaco, who will raise their collective voices against violence and discrimination against children.

They will brainstorm and commit to action in their respective fields to accelerate progress and achieve breakthroughs to benefit children, by signing a declaration.

Summit will also witness the launching of the “100m for 100m” campaign, which aims to mobilize, over the next five years, 100m youth and children for 100m underprivileged children across the world to end child labour, child slavery and violence against children and promote the right of every child to be safe.

Having been at the forefront of the global movement to end child slavery for four decades now, Satyarthi is also aghast at the “paltry” government spending on children, who make up more than 40 per cent of India’s population.

“We don’t have progressive laws on child labour; our government spends a paltry four percent of its budget on children and we have a massive prevalence of child trafficking.”

“Trafficking is a thriving trade running into several lakh crores of rupees, a majority of which is black money. Yes, the demonetisation drive is causing sufferings to the people, but at the same time it has hurt the traffickers badly,” Satyarthi said.

“But the fact remains that children are not our political or even social priority. So it is not surprising that we have one of the highest numbers of malnourished children,” he says.

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