Washington, May 3 (PTI) Highlighting that India has done “much better” in the fight against child labour under the Narendra Modi government, Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi expressed confidence that the last child in the country would be safe, free, and educated by 2047, when India celebrates its 100 years of independence.
In an interview to PTI, Satyarthi said social and political will is needed to end child labour in India and asserted that the government will need the support of society and private sector.
“The last child in India should be free, safe, educated and given all kinds of protection and opportunities. I’m sure it will happen (before 2047),” Satyarthi, who was here to attend multiple peace events and meet members of the President Joe Biden’s administration, think tanks and lawmakers said.
“In a way, my vision is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi when I talk about the last person in society. I hope India will be able to accomplish it and not wait till 2047. It should happen before that,” he said.
The day when a girl from a remote village in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar or down south and belonging to the lowest social and economic strata is free to go to school and gets opportunities to fulfil her dreams is when India would achieve freedom to the fullest, he said.
Satyarthi was responding to a question on his vision for India when it celebrates its 100 years of independence in 2047. India this year is observing its 75th year of independence, which is being celebrated as “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” across the globe by people of Indian origin and Indians living overseas.
When it comes to the fight against child labour, India has done much better in comparison to previous years, he said.
“Like the law… which prohibits all forms of child labour up to the age of 14 and all hazardous form of child labour up to the age of 18. Of course, the enforcement of law is always a challenge and sometimes difficult, but we have a good law,” he said.
“India has also ratified both the convention, one on the worst forms of child labour and one on the minimum age of employment, the ILO conventions. Even the United States has not yet ratified the Convention on the minimum age of employment in the edit so a lot of progressive steps have been taken,” Satyarthi said.
“However, a combination of social and political will and a sense of urgency is needed which is lacking, so to speak. Only the government cannot do this. Society has to work hand in hand with the private sector because it is the national curse, it is a national stigma if even one single child is sold or bought like cattle anywhere in the world. So, we have definitely made a lot of progress in last few years, but much more is needed,” he said.
Satyarthi said that the Covid pandemic is not simply a health or economic crisis but of the entire civilization and children are going to be the worst sufferers.
“In fact, they are already the worst sufferers. If we are not able to address their issues with utmost sincerity and urgency, then millions of children may fall into slavery, trafficking child labour. Millions of children will be forced to leave schools,” he said
This Interview Originally Appeared in The Print