We owe our children-happiness, said Professor. M.S.Swaminathan delivering the inaugural ‘India cares’ 2014 oration on the eve of Children’s Day. The call for happiness is relevant to all children and transcends beyond individual challenges and diverse life settings our children find themselves in. Everyone who has the opportunity to interact with a child can perhaps consider this call for bringing happiness to our youngest citizens.
Over two billion children form part of this global community today. The way we invest in their wellbeing will determine our collective future. Never before have we also had so much knowledge and resource in serving our children and so even more the fact sheet on India’s children speaks out to us … and calls us to realizing the rights of children.
Right to life, survival and development: The right to survival and development is closely linked to the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, to health services and to an adequate standard of living. Within the UN context, led by the World Health Organization and UNICEF in particular, measures to ensure survival include growth monitoring, oral rehydration and disease control, breastfeeding, immunization, nutrition, birth spacing and women’s literacy. The primary health care approach, also championed by this alliance, emphasizes the interconnectedness of essential health care, adequate nutrition, improved water and sanitation and hygiene, sound infrastructure and community partnerships in health. Education has become a cornerstone of child development, with lifelong benefits for individuals and families. (UNICEF archives)
As part of Shanti Ashram’s efforts for the progress and protection of children, I see an increasing number of individuals and institutions taking interest to initiate and invest in the wellbeing of children. Without this expanded partnership we would not have been able initiate dialogue about working together for children in over 17 states of India, without this support we could not have served over 80,000 most vulnerable children in Coimbatore.
Despite the numerous challenges that remain in realizing children’s rights, on children’s day we can offer a vision of a world in which all children survive and develop, and are protected, respected and encouraged to participate in the decisions that affect them. This vision promotes a world of peace, tolerance, equity, and respect for human rights and shared responsibility-in short, a world fit for children.
Respect for the views of the child: the spirit and creative imagination of children is for us to harness and experience. Adults have to remind themselves of children’s right to have their views heard and respected in matters concerning them. One of the most pivotal points made in article 12 of the CRC, is that countries “shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age of maturity of the child.”Article 12 places an obligation on government to ensure that children’s views are sought and considered.
Beyond everything else working for children reaffirms HOPE and the possibility of bringing more HAPPINESS and not deprivation in its many forms to our children. In doing so we also give ourselves the opportunity to understand the timeless relevance of investing in the well-being of children.
“India should do better for her children ……we can give all of our children a much better start to life!”
A reflection piece on Children’s Day by Kezevino Aram of Shanti Ashram