Development Dialogue: Quotes from Kailash Satyarthi’s Keynote Address, 7th Feb, 2015

Kailash Satyarthi, in his Keynote Address at Development Dialogue Hubli 2015 , spoke about how children need to be a main focus while working in impact.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi has been involved in child rights activism and activism against child labour since 1980. Apart from freeing several children from child labour, Satyarthi’s work over the past 35 years has led to the International Labour Organization’s adoption of Convention No. 182 on the worst form’s of child labour,GoodWeave (a labelling system in carpets that indicate they are child labour free), India’s Right To Education Act, and more. Last year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, along with Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai on December 10, 2014.

Satyarthi gave the keynote speech at the Development Dialogue, 7th Feb, 2015. Here are a few quotes from his speech:


On the importance of questioning things


“We don’t question things, we take for granted what is told to us, we begin with answers, not question’s If I question the caste system, there is no rational answer we ll say, We have always had it, some people started it thousands of years ago and for some reason and we carry on with it. In our society, religious life, scientific life, we don’t question, innovate.”


On child labour


“More than 3000 girls are kidnapped and held as hostage by ISIS, all for sexual desires and selling for prostitution. This is some new business by these people claiming to be saviours of religion and Islam. And who are these girls? They are all our daughters, they are alloursisters.”

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“This is the state of our children today: 168 million children today are forced to work somewhere in mines, houses and factories. 58 million children in the world don’t have the fortune, the opportunity to ever go to school. Another 150 million children were compelled to leave the school before attaining 5th grade. About a billion children don’t have safe drinking water and food. 5.5 million children are enslaved They are not simply just going to work, they are separated from their parents, they are used as prostitutes, they ve been given guns to kill their own friends and families. Trafficking selling and buying of human beings, particularly children, is the largest single illicit trade in the world.”


“Sisters and brothers, I tell you that less than a week’s worth of annual global military expenditure can bring all children to a school.”


“And when I sit with the children and talk to them as a friends, and ask simple questions, (like which I asked these boys) What do you want to become?. They have no dream. No dream. Perhaps, they ll never have dreams if we cannot act now.”


“I realized that freeing those 12 children from the carpet factory was nothing. Before my very eyes, I saw so many children being trafficked and I could do nothing, I could protect a handful or children and every day more and more children would be brought in. I knew I had to do something bigger.”


“We then launched the first ever voluntary social labeling system in Indian, Pakistani and Nepali carpets- it is known as GoodWeave now. What is the result of this labeling? A study was done by the US Department of Labour ‘s it shows that about 15 years ago, over 1 million children were working in Indian, Pakistani and Nepali carpet industry, but in 10 years time it has decreased to about 3,00,000.”


“One of these rescued circus girls had developed a hatred for men. She did not give her statement to the police officer or magistrate, both men. She was about 13 years old and she had been raped many times. When a lady journalist asked her, (as usual), How do you feel? The girl replied, You will die one day. But I have died a thousand times, and you’re asking how I feel?

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“In India, people under 18 can’t be employed in circuses according to the law now. They are not artists, they are victims of slavery.”


On being patient with change and impact


“I call upon you, your personal compassion must be translated and transformed to socialcompassion, transformative compassion, engaged compassion. And this transformative and engaged compassion has to be globalised so that we can make a really beautiful world for ourselves and our children.”


“But right from my childhood and student life, I had a passion and that passion I always tried to convert into social action. It did not only confine to myself. To bring about that change which I dreamed of, and that had to begin with me. And I always believed, if I believe in something which is right in my eyes, which is right in my heart- if I don’t take the first step, then who will?. And if not now then when.”


Of course I am angry. I am angered each time, but I don’t want to let this anger go out or be dominated by violent reaction. or destruction. I want to transform my anger into passion and transformation’s.


On Education, Entrepreneurship, Ethics, and Equity


“Education was in the Directive Principles of State Policy but not in the Fundamental Rights. We held long marches across India for a Right to Education , we met parliament members and spoke about it. For several months, that’s all I did every morning. Eventually, the law makers added it to the Fundamental rights.”


Originally published as a part of DD coverage byalternative_plain_logo-300x66

Credits: The TA Team,Feb 18, 2015


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