Like other children, 12-year-old Lakshmi, an orphan, and 13-year-old Chandrashekhar, a disabled, have aspirations to do big things in life, and their words moved Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday.
Sharing the dais with Singh at the National Child Awards ceremony, Lakshmi expressed her wish to be an actress, whereas Chandrashekhar wanted to become prime minister like Singh.
Lakshmi, who was found near a railway station by NGO Salam Balak Trust, had even worked in a film, The Forest, and is doing well in studies. For Chandrashekhar, a resident of Gurgaon, the meaning of life changed after he was told that he could go to school like other children. Till then, he used to be alone at home and had no friends. Now, the wheelchair-bound child goes to the same school a normal child goes to. "I am inspired by Cacha Nehru," he said.
While Singh recalled Chandrashekhar's words during his address, the Prime Minister wanted children to consider tennis star Sania Mirza and master blaster Sachin Tendulkar as their role models. "Sania Mirza, who was a little girl like you, dreamed of becoming one of the world's best tennis players. With hard work, she achieved that. We feel great pride in Sachin Tendulkar also. And I hope that from among you, many more Sania Mirzas and Sachin Tendulkars will emerge," he said after giving away awards to 29 child achievers from all over the country.
It was a day for children with ordinary backgrounds but extra-ordinary abilities to get together. Benzy, a mentally challenged girl from Uttar Pradesh, overcame her disability to become a star singer and even won a place in Limca Book of Records.
Kumar Roshan, a hearing- and speech-impaired child from Bihar, was awarded for his skills in chess. His father told HT that since childhood he had been interested in sports. But his disability prevented him from undertaking outdoor sports. "He started playing indoor games and developed keen interest in chess and won state awards," he said.
Ismil Shan Mirza, a shy five-year-old, hogged the limelight for her exceptional talent in working on Microsoft PowerPoint and Explorer. "Since the age of three Ismil has been using the computer," her mother said. Ravi Mansad Yadav, a Class II student in Mysore, can recall names of all capital cities of the world and top politicians at the drop of the hat.
"I just remember what I see and read," said Yadav.
A touch of glamour was provided by well-known child artist Aakanksha Jachak of Indore, who was awarded in the field of singing. At the age of nine she sang 61 songs continuously during her five-and-a-half hours show in Indore. Now she can be seen on television competing in talent hunt shows. "It is tough to be on television," was her reaction when asked about the glamour pull of television.
No ticket for children
Information & Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi has declared that children would not have to pay to watch films produced by the Children's Film Society of India. Speaking at the inauguration of CFSI film festival, he said the grant of the society will be raised three-fold from the next financial year to encourage production of films on rural children and the under privileged ones.
International Children Assembly
Hundreds of children from Russia, Mongolia and Sri Lanka will participate in the International Children Assembly inaugurated by HRD Minister Arjun Singh. He also released a magazine for children Akkar Bakkar and a poster on the occasion.