Russia-Ukraine war and world’s food-energy crises pushing children into chronic poverty: Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi

Kailash Satyarthi gave a clarion call for India to globalize compassion and termed it the core value of the idea of India
He spoke about child trafficking, Covid-19 pandemic and collectively contributing to the greater good

Visakhapatnam : The recent 42nd Foundation Day celebrations at GITAM (Deemed to be) University, Visakhapatnam, were a grand affair with Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi being honoured with the GITAM Foundation Award 2022, comprising a plaque and INR 10 lakh as the prize money. After receiving the award, Mr. Satyarthi delivered the GITAM Endowment lecture.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Satyarthi said, “In this moment of pride, I accept this honour with utmost humility. I am honoured to be amongst some of the brightest minds of India, who are shaping the ‘New India’. New India is not merely a slogan; it would be built upon courage and conviction, when one has a dream embraced and delivered through actions. On his Foundation Day, we celebrate the vision and hard work of its founder M. V. V. S. Murthi, who was driven by Gandhian values. The message of this Foundation Day is to modernise this institution while staying true to its founding Gandhian beliefs – the dream of making a better India.”

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient gave a call for coming together for the betterment of society and converting cross-disciplinary knowledge into prosperity for all. “We all should come together when society is so divided and there is so much falsehood and misinformation peddled and multiplied through social media. It is important that we all come together to combat this hatred. The world is facing so many competing challenges. The pandemic has not yet gone. There were already some existing crises — fuel crisis, food crisis, global warming — that have pushed children into chronic poverty globally. In addition to it, Russia Ukraine war has pushed another 40-45 million children into chronic poverty. The number of children who are being trafficked in lesser prices than that of cattle, is increasing in many places.”

Mentioning how the Covid-19 pandemic catalysed loss of livelihoods, Mr. Satyarthi spoke about children bearing the brunt of aggravated social evils like child marriage. “Some of the migrant workers who returned home or who lost livelihood for two years or so, their children were most vulnerable to child labour, trafficking, slavery and child marriages. I personally met and spoke to many children and their fathers who said. ‘We wanted to marry our daughter at the age of 12 because we have no other option. At least we will save some food at home for the younger ones’. This is a global issue and has to be challenged and solved with a deeper sense of compassion.”

He added, “When it comes to the sense of responsibility to each other in this globalized world, we forget completely about our own neighbours and family members. We have globalized economies, markets, production supply chains, and information technology, but this is the time India should take a lead to globalize its core value: Compassion. India should globalize compassion. Compassion is feeling suffering of others as your own suffering with a drive, with a quest, with an urgency to end that suffering of others as your own suffering. It means you have to find ideas and solutions, take initiatives and risks and show your leadership.

Giving examples of children he and his colleagues have rescued over the years, he said, “According to the government’s own statistic, five young boys and girls are sexually abused and raped every hour in India. Their reality is much more serious because many of them don’t speak up. Sentiments are suppressed because often the abusers are close to the abused.”

Addressing the students, Mr. Satyarthi gave the mantra of three D’s: Dream, Discover and Do, and urged students to find role models within themselves and do greater good.

Talking about hosting Kailash Satyarthi, M. Sri Bharat, President, GITAM (Deemed to be University) said, “It was our honour to host and to hear from Mr Satyarthi on our 43rd Foundation Day. As inspiring as his journey is, we are sure our students had many important takeaways from his address. We are thankful to him to accept the GITAM Foundation Award 2022.”

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