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No Swacch Bharat without children’s rights: Kailash Satyarthi

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Kailash_Satyarthi_March_2015New Delhi: Nobel laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi on Monday said the Indian laws still do not define child labour in a definitive way and that ‘Swachh Bharat’ cannot be attained if children’s rights are not protected.

How can the country be ‘Swachh Bharat’ (Clean India) if childhood is not protected and children do not have access to quality education, Satyarthi asked while lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ (Save girl child, educate girl child) campaign.

“Even if our country’s Gross Domestic Product is as high as 15 percent, it is still a challenge for India if children remain enslaved,” Satyarthi added while addressing a session on ‘Child rights and issues’ at the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The Right to Education (RTE) Act has increased enrollment in schools, but drop-out rate has been equally high. This points to the need for quality education in our schools. The RTE is a fundamental right which opens the door to all other rights,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner laureate said.

According to a World Bank study, each dollar invested in education will give 15-fold returns in 20 years, he said, and sought from , the government, industries and civil societies liberal investments in children’s education.

Satyarthi is the founder of ‘Bachpan Bachao Aandolan’, an organisation aimed at protecting child rights.

“Child labour has to be defined in a more elaborate way under the law. Child labour within the family has remained a dicey aspect and has never been included under the Child Labour Act, which still has lacuna,” he said.

In cases where children help their family members at work, it should not be at the expense of their education, Satyarthi said.boy-330582_640

A child cannot be employed in hazardous conditions, despite being with family members, he said and added that the law has failed to include these areas under its ambit.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act has a list of 18 hazardous occupations and 65 processes which, he said, should be retained in amendments.

India has the largest child population in the world and the government pegs the number of child labourers around 45 lakh, while non-governmental agencies fix this figure at more than five crore, the child rights activist remarked.

“All children up to the age of 18 are entitled to care and protection and access to education under the law. Unfortunately, this has not been done in the past, but we need to make sure it is enforced properly,” Satyarthi added.

On the proposed legislation on juvenile justice, Satyarthi said the amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act is very important in dealing with cases where juveniles have committed heinous crimes like rape or murder.

The bill seeks to lower from 18 to 16 years the culpable age of a juvenile to be tried as an adult for heinous crimes. (IANS)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Childhood is that part of life which cannot be forgotten, if children have memories like exploitation, physical violence, workers at an early age, it becomes very difficult for them to come out of it. Therefore, steps should be taken to enforce the child laws strictly and immediately

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Childhood is that part of life which cannot be forgotten, if children have memories like exploitation, physical violence, workers at an early age, it becomes very difficult for them to come out of it. Therefore, steps should be taken to enforce the child laws strictly and immediately

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OrchKids- Bringing Joy To Underprivileged Kids Through Music

Nema was accepted into the Baltimore School for the Arts where she now studies music.

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In Baltimore, a free after school music program called OrchKids is being used as an instrument of change for children in underprivileged neighborhoods. In the past 10 years, more than 1,300 children have received free group music lessons, and free instruments, from flutes to trumpets to violins.

The program was started by Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, who said OrchKids also aims to create social change in a city where about 40 percent of the population live in poverty. She hopes that if more children of color learn an instrument that “orchestras will better reflect the diversity of our communities.”

For 15 year old Nema Robinson, OrchKids has given her more opportunities than she ever imagined. Four years ago, the quiet teenager started taking the group violin lessons and quickly progressed.

Her teacher, Ahreum Kim, grew up in Korea and studied at the prestigious Peabody Institute in Baltimore.

“Nema’s determination has helped make her a top violin student” Kim said. “OrchKids is doing a lot for Nema, by giving her confidence, the practice of being in front of an audience, and musical skills she can be proud of,” she added.

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Nema’s musical journey began when she and her mother, Susan Johnson, saw an OrchKids concert. Johnson was amazed to see black kids performing classical and opera music. “You just don’t see that,” she recalled thinking, “And I’m elbowing Nema and telling her, ‘This is what you should be doing.”

Nema enthusiastically agreed, and soon after started taking violin lessons that have given her the opportunity to play all kinds of music. She is especially proud of being a violinist in the Orchkids jazz band.

OrchKids has been instrumental in guiding many students, some from difficult backgrounds, by providing a place where they feel respected and safe.

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“Some of the students come into the class with baggage,” said Kim. “That could be due to poverty, or trouble at home. It is helpful when I learn about their families.”

Nema had a rough start in life as a drug addicted baby. With both her parents in prison, her aunt became her guardian and mother.

“She’s my number one supporter and has helped me a lot,” said Nema appreciatively. She pushes me. If it wasn’t for my mom I don’t think I would really be this good at playing the violin.”

Music
OrchKids has been instrumental in guiding many students.

Aside from the camaraderie and the encouragement that OrchKids provides, Nema also enjoys performing. I like seeing the audience, and their clapping and standing up after the performance,” she said. “It just makes my day.”

Thanks to her free violin lessons, Nema was accepted into the Baltimore School for the Arts where she now studies music.

Also Read: China Set To Spend Billionaire on ‘One Belt One Road’s, But Some Focus on Poverty

She hopes to earn a college degree in music so she can teach other black children, like herself, how to live their lives on a high note.

“It doesn’t matter what race you are, you can play music. If it’s your passion then it’s your passion,” Nema said with a smile. (VOA)