People who fight for child rights awarded
A policeman who rescues children from trafficking in Assam, a volunteer who prevents child marriage in Jharkhand, an officer with the UIDAI department who issued Aadhaar cards to thousands of street children, and children who speak up for their rights were among the people awarded on Monday at the Right Start Summit in New Delhi to celebrate 100 years of Save the Children, a non-profit that works for child rights.
“India will ensure every village has a child protection committee and child protection services are available at every district... It is a well-established fact that the early years are extremely crucial for a child’s development and have a huge impact on their future. As our prime minister has highlighted, only if children are healthy and educated they can achieve their full potential, thus contributing to nation-building,” said Smriti Z Irani, minister of women and child development, at the conference.
The national summit is a culmination of a month-long effort that engaged children from across states to create a strong discourse on having a right start in their early years through better nutrition and early education.
Among those awarded was Surendra Kumar, IGP in Assam with the CID, which is the nodal body for women and child-related issues, such as child trafficking, child sexual abuse, child labour and child marriage. Rescuing children is all in a day’s work for him. “The laws protecting children are very robust, but awareness is often low, which makes it imperative to ensure the laws are implemented,” Kumar said.
Following up on a lead after rescuing four children – three girls and a boy, all under 18 years – and arresting two traffickers from a railway station on September 10 in Assam, Kumar and his team rescued 14 more children and two traffickers on September 15 in East Champaran in Bihar. “During interrogation, we found out there were other children being forced to do vulgar and inappropriate dances in “dance orchestras” in Bihar. In a joint operation, we managed to rescue 14 more children, all of whom had been trafficked to work against their will,” Kumar said.
“A child’s right to nutrition, education and protection are non-negotiables, and we look forward to a combined commitment and collaboration to give The Right Start to every child. It is through partnerships that have made everything we have accomplished over the past 100 years possible, and I sincerely hope organisations like us do not need to exist another 100 years to bring these changes for children,” said Bidisha Pillai, CEO, Save the Children.
Save the Children’s centenary commitment to end childhood pneumonia, which is a leading cause of under-five deaths in India, will start on October 1 as a campaign in 10 districts across five states of Bihar, Delhi, Jharkhand, Orissa, and Rajasthan over the next three years (2019-21) and aims to impact over a million children from across these states.
Save the Children and NITI Aayog recently signed a statement of intent to improve indicators in education, health and nutrition with particular focus on Early Childhood Care under the ‘Aspirational Districts Programme’.