Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter

Worldwide 218 million children between 5 and 17 years are in employment; 152 million are victims of child labour. Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic will result in “most definite and substantial increase” in child labour, child trafficking and slavery across the world, warned Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi as he prepares to send an SOS tomoroow in a global event called ‘Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit 2020’ attended by the global who’s who including WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the Dalai Lama along with prime Ministers and presidents of different nations.

In an exclusive interview to IANS, Satyarthi, also said that India’s labour law dilution in certain states will spike child labour while prolonged closure of schools in India puts many children at the risk of being trafficked.

Follow NewsGram on LinkedIn for more updates.

Almost half of them, 73 million, work in hazardous child labour. Unsplash

Q: Since the lockdown began, the Childline India Helpline has received around 4,60,000 calls seeking protection against domestic abuse and violence. How serious is the concern for India?

A: Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we were moving slowly but surely in an upward path towards protecting children, in most parts of the world. But even before the Covid-induced lockdowns, progress in the child-related SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) had plateaued and inequality was growing. India has been no exception. The existing inequalities and absence of social protections has been exposed and exacerbated due to the pandemic.

The arrival of Covid-19, not only halted progress but with the hugely unequal Covid-19 response from world leaders, we are now at great risk of turning the clock back on the progress of the past few decades. Children are the worst-impacted in any form of disaster but with Covid-19, the impact has been of an unprecedented nature. There will be a most definite and substantial increase in child labour, child trafficking and slavery across the world. What we are witnessing today is an imminent and the most severe crisis for children in our times, and if we fail to act now we risk losing an entire generation.

Q: What message do you wish to send to the world leaders through laureates and leader for the Children Summit that will have the likes of the WHO Chief and Dalai Lama in attendance?

A: The pandemic is an act of nature, but if millions starve and millions of children are denied an education and become child labourers it will be compassion-less and unequal response to the crisis that will be to blame.

In May this year, I joined 88 Nobel Laureates to sign a joint statement demanding that 20% of the Covid-19 response be allocated to the most marginalised 20% children and their families. This is the minimum fair share for children. Even if you only look at the $5-trillion package announced in the first few weeks of the pandemic, 20% of that is $1 trillion, enough funding to fund all the Covid-19 UN Appeals, cancel 2 years of debt for low income countries, provide the external funding required for two years of the Sustainable Development Goals on Education and Water and Sanitation and a full 10 years of the external funding for the Health related SDGs.

Hazardous child labour is most prevalent among the 15-17 years old. Unsplash

A fair share of the current estimated $ 8 trillion of government aid would mitigate the increase child hunger and food insecurity; tackle the increase in child labour and slavery, the denial of education and the heightened vulnerability of children on the move such as child refugees and displaced children. These are the areas of immediate criticality.

If we can prevent the devastating impact of Covid-19 on these areas, if we can reduce the inequality in the world’s Covid-19 response, if we ensure the most vulnerable receive their Fair Share, we can then be in a position to salvage the future of our children.

Q: Has India done enough to protect its children during the pandemic?

A: While efforts have been made in this direction, no government has done enough to protect its children during the pandemic. And I ask you to not take my word on this. I am only a voice for the most left behind child. I ask you to assess the responses of governments by the reality being faced by the children in the country. The most marginalised child who died of starvation, or a child who is being trafficked for child labour or sexual exploitation because of the loss of employment of their parents is the only true judge of any nation’s humanitarian response to the pandemic.

Q: With dilution of labour laws in certain states and thrust to boost economy, are you afraid that child labour will be on the rise in India?

A: A humanitarian response to the ongoing crisis would have entailed strengthening of labour laws and their compliance, especially those that protect labour rights, welfare and security. We cannot afford to reverse the progress made over decades in labour rights and protection as well as eradication of child labour, under the pretext of a pandemic.

Among 152 million children in child labour, 88 million are boys and 64 million are girls. Unsplash

In fact, the Indian government must seize this opportunity to bring forth legislations that deter the engagement of labour in India by international business supply chains. This will, in fact, give a boost to the Indian economy through creation of jobs for adults, greater investment by international companies that need to comply with labour standards of their countries, and promote ease of business through transparent and reliable supply chains. This is the correct way forward, from both humanitarians from economic perspectives.

Q: Which Indian state, to your mind, has fared worst in terms of protecting children during the lockdown and afterwards?

A: We should refrain from having a fragmented outlook to the nation at this time of crisis. We need to be united as one country and support one another, only then can we emerge from these testing times.

The entire country needs to first allocate fair and adequate resources to the needs and challenges faced by the most marginalised communities of the country. There will most definitely be a substantial increase in child labour and trafficking in India as a result of Covid-19. The Covid-induced health, economic, educational and social challenges are going to aggravate these risks.

If we can allocate a fair share to children and reduce the inequality in the world’s Covid-19 response, only then we can arrest the already devastating impact of Covid-19 on children in the present.

Also Read: Wooden Puppets Will Enact Ramlila In Varanasi This Year

Q: The West is reopening schools, but India is still cautious about it. Do you think the time for reopening of schools in India has come?

A: That is for the government to decide. The decision to reopen schools is not a simple one, especially when we have the risk of the health and lives of children on one side, and on the other side we have the risk of denial of education.

Nonetheless, school closures have not only caused massive drop-outs of children who are now at heightened risk of being trafficked but it has also led to the denial of midday meals that has affected their health and nutrition. It is crucial that India develop a definitive roadmap for reopening of schools, reduce the digital divide for online education and ensure that all children are re-admitted and retained in schools as soon as possible. (IANS)


Wikimedia Commons

Elon Musk has renewed his promise to "extend life to Mars".

Following a huge growth in his personal fortune, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has renewed his promise to "extend life to Mars". According to The Star, Musk's wealth has swelled to an astonishing $230 billion. Or a whopping 861 billion Dodgecoin, a cryptocurrency backed by the entrepreneur after he was reported to have invested millions.

Musk is now richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined, both individuals who had previously held the rich list title. "Elon Musk (with a net worth equal to 861 billion #Dogecoin) is now richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett COMBINED!" popular crypto YouTuber Matt Wallace's tweeted.

To which Musk said: "Hopefully enough to extend life to Mars". "Have no doubt you will make it happen," Wallace responded. CEO investments, the creators of Dogecoin, also responded backing Musk's plans every step of the way. The SpaceX Mars programme was initiated by Musk to colonize Mars after he first conceptualized the project back in 2001. SpaceX's aspirational goal has been to land the first humans on Mars by 2024, but in October 2020 Musk named 2024 as the goal for an uncrewed mission. (IANS/ MBI)

Keywords: investments, combined, SpaceX, billion, Elon musk, tesla

Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

A perfume is an essential part of dressing up.

By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe

A perfume is an essential part of dressing up. Studies confirm that we feel more confident about ourselves if the final touches of our routine is a spritz of lingering perfume. However, how often do you feel that your perfume doesn't last long enough? How often do you feel that the fragrance disappears in a few hours? This is quite a common problem. Let's learn a few hacks to keep you smelling gorgeous all day.

Wearing your perfume right after the shower
Our skin tends to hold onto some moisture right after a shower. This moisture helps to lock the fragments that extend your perfume's longevity.

gray steel shower Our skin tends to hold onto some moisture right after a shower. | Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less
Wikimedia Commons

I'm nostalgic about Delhi. There's no ideal place to live in, where you are that is your home - Mukundan

By Vishnu Makhijani

Back in the 1960s, the national capital was a "quiet and safe place" where women were not harmed and you could sleep on your terrace "without locking the main house door". Then, "a nouveau riche class prospered" and outwardly, New Delhi today "is a beautiful city" but "beneath lies hunger, filth and diseases".Still, Malayalam author M. Mukundan is nostalgic about a city where he lived for 40 long years before moving back to his hometown of Mahe and this prompted him to write "Delhi - A Soliloquy", translated by Fathima E.V. and Nandakumar K (Westland/Eka) that has been shortlisted for the Rs 25 lakh JCB Prize for Literature, India's richest literary award. "When I was in Delhi, I felt nostalgic about Mahe. Now it is the other way round - I'm nostalgic about Delhi. There's no ideal place to live in, where you are that is your home," Mukundan, four of whose works have been adapted for the big screen, told IANS in an interview.

"In the early 60s when I arrived in Delhi, it was a quiet and safe place. There were villages within the city. After seeing a late night movie at the Race Course theatre, women and children would walk down to Lodhi Colony past midnight. No woman was harmed. "In summer, we used to sleep on the charpoys spread out on the terraces of our houses without locking the main house door down below. It was a city anybody will dream of living. And then Delhi changed all of a sudden - a brutal, grotesque change. "Factories and commercial establishments came up, attracting unemployed poor people from other states. Building mafias destroyed villages and fields and built ugly high-rise buildings. Poor people were pushed away to filthy slums where they led a wretched life of deprivation. Throwing away all values, a nouveau riche class prospered. Outwardly, Delhi is a beautiful city. But beneath lies hunger, filth and diseases," Mukundan elaborated.

Mukundan A Soliloquy" is the story of the changes and growth of the city with Sahadevan's life as the backdrop. Wikimedia Commons

Keep reading... Show less