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Sep 28th
Home arrow Home arrow Bihar India State to Become “Child Labour Free” Within a Year
Bihar India State to Become “Child Labour Free” Within a Year
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Saturday, 28 December 2002

“The state of Bihar will be free from the evil clutches of child labour within a year”, pledged Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav, the ex-chief minister of Bihar and supremo of the state ruling party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, before a strong crowd of nearly 15, 000 His promise brought hope and smiles o­n the faces of thousands of people, including released bonded child labourers, other children, state ministers, civil society leaders, government officials and social activists. The memorable event of the public meeting was held in Hisua block, Nawada district, Bihar o­n 17th December 2002, to declare the entire block “Child Labour Free”, the first such example in India. Bihar is o­ne of the most backward states in India where the problem of child labour and illiteracy is also rampant. This was a major breakthrough and the announcement was a pleasant surprise for most people in the state who are pessimistic about the track record of the implementation of government policies. The making of the first "Child Labour Free" block, o­nly in a record period of 100 days, is a landmark and an example for the entire country Ms. N.Vijaya Lakshmi, the proud District Magistrate, brought about this miracle with the active participation of community, village panchayat, local administration, civil society organisations, in particular SACCS / BBA (South Asian Coalition o­n Child Servitude / Bachpan Bachao Andolan). She is confident of making the whole district child labour free in a short span of time. The key of the success lies in the awareness building, involvement, coordination and streamlining of the pro-poor government schemes making child labour elimination and enrollment in schools a focal point, leading to nearly 1000 children being withdrawn from various occupations and admitted in schools.

Recalling her first inspiration in this endeavour, Ms. Lakshmi pointed out that her stay in Bal Ashram, Mukti Ashram and Balika Ashram run by SACCS / BBA during February 2002, shaped her thoughts and determination in making a model of a "Child Labour Free" district. She was also highly influenced by the SACCS / BBA initiated concept of Bal Mitra Gram (Child Friendly Village). Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav o­n behalf of Ms. Rabri Devi, the Chief Minister, announced that the government would duly reward Ms. Lakshmi for her achievement.

In the public meeting, the chief guest Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of SACCS / BBA, set the tone by saying that the state cannot dream of sustainable development, social justice and good governance without ensuring quality and meaningful education to all children. We urged the political leadership to take a pro-active approach towards eradication of child labour. "The future will be dark if a light is not lit now", proclaimed Mr. Satyarthi. Reacting towards the official announcement, he suggested that a sufficient system should be established with community participation to sustain the impact in Nawada and should later be transferred to all the other parts of the state. Shortly after this, came the historic declaration from Mr. Laloo Prasad Yadav that the state of Bihar would be made child labour free within a year and all children would be admitted in schools. He also asserted that the village institution and district administration would be streamlined to coordinate various projects in ending child labour.

Indeed, this is a ground breaking development for the entire movement against child labour as "Hisua Block" has been made child labour free by a governmental initiative with the civil society support.

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