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Kailash Satyarthi: The champion of child rights in India

Kailash Satyarthi: The champion of child rights in India

New Delhi: Kailash Satyarthi, who shares this year's Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani child rights activist Malala, is possibly India's best known face against child labour.

Satyarthi and his organisation, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) - the Save Childhood Movement, have single-handedly brought to centre-stage the debate on child rights in India.

They have so far freed 80,000 children from servitude, including bonded labourers, and helped in their successful re-integration, rehabilitation and education.

Officially, there are only about five million child workers in India, but voluntary organisations and social and other activists say the actual figure is ten times as much.

The Delhi-based Satyarthi, 60, has been a persistent campaigner worldwide on social issues involving children since the 1990s.

He gave up a promising career as an electrical engineer at the age of 26, and has since highlighted child labour as a human rights issue as well as a welfare matter and charitable cause. He has argued that it perpetuates poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, population growth and other social problems.

Several prestigious awards have been conferred on him - among these, Defenders of Democracy Award (2009-US), Alfonso Comin International Award (2008-Spain), Medal of the Italian Senate (2007-Italy), and Robert F. Kennedy International Human Rights Award (US).

He has been involved with the Global March Against Child Labour and its international advocacy body, the International Center on Child Labor and Education (ICCLE) - a global coalition of NGOs, teachers and trades unionists - and also the Global Campaign for Education.

Satyarthi has helped enactment and adoption of national and international legislations, treaties and conventions as well as the constitutional amendment on child labour and education.

Satyarthi, who was born in Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, has a degree in electrical engineering and a post-graduate diploma in high-voltage engineering.

After teaching engineering in a college in Bhopal for a few years, he decided to work for social change, and initially began by starting a book bank for poor students who could not afford textbooks.

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