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Kailash Satyarthi born 11 January 1954) is an Indian children's rightsadvocate and an activist

against child labour. He founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (lit. Save the Childhood Movement)
in 1980 and has acted to protect the rights of more than 83,000 children from 144 countries. It is
largely because of Satyarthi's work and activism that the International Labour
Organization adopted Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour, which is now a
principal guideline for governments around the world.[7]
His work is recognized through various national and international honours and awards including
the Nobel Peace Prize of 2014, which he shared with Malala Yousafzai, a female education activist
from Pakistan.

Early life
Kailash Satyarthi speaking at the Global Campaign for Education World Assembly in Paris, France, February 2011

Originally named Kailash Sharma, Satyarthi was born on 11 January 1954 in the Vidisha district of
central Indian state Madhya Pradesh.
He attended Government Boys Higher Secondary School, and completed his degree in electrical
engineering at Samrat Ashok Technological Institute, Vidisha and a post-graduate degree in highvoltage engineering. He then joined a college in Bhopal as a lecturer for a few years.

In 1980, he gave up his career as a teacher and became secretary general for the Bonded Labor
Liberation Front; he also founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Mission) that
year. He has also been involved with the Global March Against Child Labor and its international
advocacy body, the International Center on Child Labor and Education (ICCLE), which are
worldwide coalitions of NGOs, teachers and trades unionists. He has also served as the President of
the Global Campaign for Education, from its inception in 1999 to 2011, having been one of its four
founders alongside ActionAid, Oxfam and Education International.

From the expo at Nobel Peace Center

In addition, he established GoodWeave International (formerly known as Rugmark) as the first

voluntary labelling, monitoring and certification system of rugs manufactured without the use of childlabour in South Asia.[19][20][21] This latter organisation operated a campaign in Europe and the United

States in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the intent ofraising consumer awareness of the issues
relating to the accountability of global corporations with regard to socially responsible consumerism
and trade. Satyarthi has highlighted child labor as a human rights issue as well as a welfare matter
and charitable cause. He has argued that it perpetuates poverty, unemployment, illiteracy,
population growth, and other social problems, and his claims have been supported by several
studies. He has also had a role in linking the movement against child labour with efforts for achieving
"Education for All". He has been a member of a UNESCO body established to examine this and has
been on the board of the Fast Track Initiative (now known as the Global Partnership for
Education).Satyarthi serves on the board and committee of several international organisations
including the Center for Victims of Torture (USA), the International Labor Rights Fund (USA), and
the International Cocoa Foundation. He is now reportedly working on bringing child labour and
slavery into the post-2015 development agenda for the United Nation's Millennium Development
Satyarthi, along with Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in
2014 "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all
children to education". Satyarthi is the fifth Nobel Prize winner for India and only the second Indian
winner of the Nobel Peace Prize after Mother Teresa in 1979.

Personal life
He lives in New Delhi, India. His family includes his wife, a son, daughter-in-law, and a daughter. He
has been described as an excellent cook.

Awards and honours

Satyarthi has been the subject of a number of documentaries, television series, talk shows,
advocacy and awareness films. Satyarthi has been awarded the following national and international

2014: Nobel Peace Prize

2009: Defenders of Democracy Award (US)

2008: Alfonso Comin International Award (Spain)

2007: Gold medal of the Italian Senate (2007)

2007: recognized in the list of "Heroes Acting to End Modern Day Slavery" by the US State

2006: Freedom Award (US)

2002: Wallenberg Medal, awarded by the University of Michigan[38]

1999: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Award (Germany)

1998: Golden Flag Award (Netherlands)

1995: Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award (US)

1995: The Trumpeter Award (US)

1994: The Aachener International Peace Award (Germany)

1993: Elected Ashoka Fellow (US)


Satyarthi, Kailash; Zutshi, Bupinder (2006). Globalisation, Development And Child Rights. New
Delhi: Shipra Publications. ISBN 9788175412705.

Role of Kailash Satyarthi in Eradicating Child Labour
Ms. Rangana Maitra1 , M. Phil (Management), M.B.A (NMIMS), M.A. (English Literature), P.G.
Diploma in Personnel Management & Dr. Sudhir K. Saha2 1Associate Professor, IES
Management College and Research Centre, Mumbai 2 Professor, Faculty of Business
Administration Memorial University, Canada
Abstract: It is a criminal offence to put children in awful work settings day, rejecting their right
to have minimum education and snatching away their childhood. Some studies indicate that the
money they make is so negligible it may not even add to the family's welfare. Many a times it
happens that economic condition is so bad that has forced the parents to make their children
into child-labourers. The case study will focus on the role played by Kailash Satyarthi in
initiating to eradicate the child labour from industries. The case will also focus on the initiatives
taken by him on educating children. It will also depict what kind of characteristics he is having
as a leader and as a social entrepreneur. Keywords: Child labour, Kailash Satyarthi, Human
Introduction: Quotable quote of Kailash Satyarthi, a human rights activist from India who has
been at the forefront of the global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labor
since 1981, is "If not now, then when? If not you, then who? Before going into detail on Kailash
Satyarthi and apprehend his contribution to the society, it is important to know about the
problem of child labour all over the world and particularly in South Asian Countries.
Child labour: As per International Labour Organisation, the term child labour is often defined
as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is
harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, physically,
socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling by

depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely;
or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy
work. Children born in the poverty-striken families turn into bonded labourers. The parents
many a time cannot pay the debt due to inflated rate of interest, even some families sell their
children to businessmen as they cannot provide the food. Many a times these kids are
separated from their families, are exposed to severe hazards, bad working conditions, long and
strenuous working hours, malnutrition and illnesses. Sometimes they may be beaten. and work
even without any break. The health risks these children face are many depending on the kind of
work they perform, but it is safe to say that many of these laboring children are forced to quit
working at a relatively young age and so the cycle begins again when they send their own
children to work. As a result these children do not get opportunity of education. They do not
get the opportunity of having even the basic education. Many of these child labourers are
forced to work up to 18 hours a day, sometimes even without a break. Most of them earn as
less as Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 per month; sometimes for no money as they are bonded labourers.
Child labour in India: Child labour is a major problem in India. According to Department of
Labor Report, Child Labor is used because they are less demanding, more submissive, ready to
work for lesser amount. Even they are not protected by the law or its representatives. So
factory owners can exploit them very with no trouble. There are as many as 60 million children
working in India's agricultural, industrial and commercial sectors as per the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions report. As per the 68th NSS survey, India currently has an
estimated 2.4 mn child workers. If we include the part time workers this number shoots up to
3.22 mn. Once again, as per the statistics of United Nations, on average, one child in every
seven is a child labourer. An estimated 14 percent of children in India between the ages of 5
and 14 are engaged in child labor activities, including carpet production. Children trafficked into
one form of labour may be later sold into another, as with girls from rural Nepal, who are
recruited to
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work in carpet factories but are then trafficked into the sex industry over the border in India.
The children in the age group of 11-14 years had been trafficked from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh
and had been working without any wage for over 12 hours a day. 80% of the working children
in India are the children of the "Dalits" who are oppressed low caste or minority tribal people.
A country that uses child labour violates the rights of the kids that are legally guaranteed by
human rights law. Bonded laborers work in the diamond, stone-cutting and manufacturing
industries and especially in carpet making where the children hand knit rugs are exported all
over the world. Asia has the highest percentage of children who work in export industries.

Kailash Satyarthi started his journey as an activist in carpet industry. There are 300,000 children
working in the carpet industry in India which recently brought in $815 million annually.
Issues of concern for Mr. Kailash Satyarthi: Kialash Satyarthi was born in January 11, 1954 in
Vidisha, India. He started his career as an Electrical Engineer and left this lucrative career for
the cause of a major social issue. From his early childhood child labour was an issue which was
tormenting Mr. Kailash Satyarthis mind and he started taking initiatives to help underprivileged students from a very early age. .He was thinking why children of his age who belong
to lower-caste or very poor, are not going to school and are engaged in doing something to
earn livelihood or to help the poverty- striken parents. He was moved by the worlds economic
disparities, and the discrimination among children based on caste. Since young-age, he used to
take some initiative to help the children from poor family by providing used text- books and
money so that they can go for tuitions. Money he used to collect from others. Gradually he also
realized that these young child-labourers are getting exploited and manipulated as child labour
in the hands of the factory owners. Mr. K. Satyarthi has emphasised that child labor leads to,
illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, population growth and other social problems and it is a
human rights issue. Various researches have supported his claim. Children are sold by
destitute parents into bonded labor, Satyarthi said. The children are then often re-sold into
prostitution or, more recently, as forced organ donors. He said he wants to give them a
childhood, and to give them the tools they need to overcome poverty and abuse through
education and validation as human beings.
Strategies taken: When he grew up Mr. Satyarthi he stated as an activist against child-labour
and initiated a movement to eradicate child labour by creating domestic and international
consumer resistance to products made by children in bonded labour. Mr. Satyarthi not only
tried to eradicate child labour from industries but also to rehabilitate them with vocational
training and education. Mr. Satyarthi has initiated for enactment and adoption of national and
international legislations, treaties and conventions as well as the constitutional amendment on
child labour and education. He started the movement with child labour and gradually linked it
to attain "Education for All". Initially Satyarth started with Rugmark, a programme in which rugs
are labeled and certified to be child-labor-free by factories that agree to be regularly inspected.
He is the founder of the Global March Against Child Labour, its international advocacy body, the
International Center on Child Labor and Education (ICCLE),the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save
the Childhood Movement), the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude (SACCS), and the
worlds first child labour-free social labelling system, RUGMARK And Global Campaign for
Education worldwide on social issues involving children. He has been a member of a UNESCO
body that examines this social issue and has been on the board of the Fast Track Initiative now
known as the Global Partnership for Education. As mentioned in, the organisations with which Satyarthi
associated with provide direct legal assistance and advocacy for victims. His efforts have taken
many different forms, some of them on massive international scale. In 1998 he organized the
Global March Against Child Labor, across 103 countries with the participation of 7.2 million

people, and more than 10,000 civil society organizations. It was the largest peoples' campaign
on child labor that led to the ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labor. His initiated
to pressure governments, manufacturers, and importers to stop illegal and unethical labor
As an analytical thinker, he emphasised that child labor is a human rights issue and not a
welfare matter or charitable cause. He has highlighted that poverty, unemployment, illiteracy,
population explosion and many other
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social evils many a time results from child labor. He has also played an important role in linking
the fight against child labor with the efforts for achieving 'Education for All'.
Role played by Kailash Satyarthi in Global March Against Child Labour: The Global March
Against Child Labour is a worldwide network of trade unions, teachers' and civil society
organisations that work together towards the shared development goals of eliminating and
preventing all forms of child labour and ensuring access by all children to free, meaningful and
good quality public education. "To be free from economic exploitation and from performing any
work that is likely to be damaging to a child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social
development". After this Global march led by Satyarthi International Labor Organization (ILO)
made changes in its policies related to child labour. Kailash Satyarthi is the President cum
Chairperson of Global March Against Child Labours objective was to give the children the right
to be free from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be
harmful to the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. The International
Center on Child Labor and Education (ICCLE) which was incorporated in Washington, DC, in
November 2000 is the International Advocacy Office of the Global March Against Child Labor. It
objective is to build and strengthen worldwide efforts to protect and promote the rights of all
children, especially to be free from economic exploitation and to receive a free and meaningful
Role played by Kailash Satyarthi in Rugmark, the worlds first child labour-free social labelling
system: In September 1994 Mr. Kailash Satyarthi founded an international consortium of
independent bodies from a dozen carpet exporting and importing countries, Rugmark in
cooperation with the German non-governmental organization "Bread for the World". It makes
sure that rugs have not been produced with child labour by getting involved in a voluntary
social labeling initiative. One of the reasons that the carpet industry was targeted by Rugmark is
because it is such a large export market for India. It is also known for being a large employer of
child laborers and bonded laborers. "Rugmark specifically is an Indian foundation with offices
in Germany, the US and Nepal. Rugmark, now known as Goodweave, is an international

consortium of independent bodies from a dozen carpet exporting and importing countries,
which take part in a voluntary social labeling initiative to ensure that rugs have not been
produced with child labor. This initiative gives positive alternatives to responsible businesses,
protecting them from any possible boycott and sanctions and gives an ethical choice to
consumers worldwide. He is pursuing the industries and other stakeholders to adopt a similar
system for knitwear, sporting goods and the other international common products. The
GoodWeave label asserts that no child labor was used in the making of the rug. GoodWeave's
certification standards are set by GoodWeave International, an associate member of the
International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance (ISEAL), which leads
the world in setting norms and good practices for certification. GoodWeave's national offices in
producer countries implement and enforce the standards. It also helps the business houses
from any possible boycott and sanctions. He has also pursued the organisations to accept a
similar system. Ultimately all these initiatives taken by Kailash led to a UN resolution to move
toward labeling schemes that would make certain that while manufacturing products the
company would not use child labour. After the publication of the resolution, the objectives and
criteria of the organization were formulated by the Indo-German Export Promotion group
(IGEP). After establishment of the first office in 1994, a second office was opened in Germany.
In 1995 the ILRF managed to assist in the opening of an office in the US. Now Rugmark operates
in Nepal and Pakistan as well. The impact and success of this initiative affected global
production and supply chains. Some renowned exporters started making losses. The main
problem faced by the Rugmark program in eliminating child labor from the workplace is to do
so without causing a significant loss in India's carpet market share, but also to create a viable
alternative to work that would benefit all involved. In order to earn the GoodWeave label, rug
exporters and importers must be licensed under the GoodWeave certification program and sign
a legally binding contract to adhere to the no-child-labor standard and not employ any person
under age 14. The company also allows unannounced random inspections by local inspectors. It
takes initiatives to pay fair wages to adult workers. To get the Good weave labeling the
companies have to give a licensing
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fee that helps support GoodWeaves monitoring, inspections and education programs To
ensure compliance, independent GoodWeave inspectors make unannounced inspections of
each loom. If inspectors find children working, they offer them the opportunity to go to school
instead, and the producers lose their status with GoodWeave. To protect against counterfeit
labeling, each label is numbered so its origin can be traced to the loom on which the rug was
produced. Importers and exporters also help support GoodWeave and its commitment to
provide rehabilitation and schooling for all rescued children. Exporters pay 0.25 percent of the

export value of each rug, and importers pay a licensing fee of 1.75 percent of the shipment
value. Licensing fees go toward monitoring, inspections and educational programs that are part
of the GoodWeave program. The US proposed ban on goods made with child labor was a
unilateral act that worried the Indian carpet exporting industries. This concern had been
growing ever since the issue of the conditions of child labor had received wide publicity in the
Western media. This caused the heightened awareness of the child labor problem and was the
catalyst that inspired Kailash Satyarthi, Chair of the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude
(SAACS)to create the Rugmark program with strong coordination and support from the IndoGerman Export Promoter (IPEC). Other organizations such as UNICEF, ILRF and the ILO have also
been involved in the development and coordination of this programme. Kailash Satyarthi has
also established ashrams (communities) for the rehabilitation of rescued child labourers. One is
in Viraat Nagar, about 30 km from Jaipur and the other is in Delhi.
Recognition: Kailash Satyarthi has been awarded several international awards. Satyarthi's
contribution has been recognized through several international awards like Defenders of
Democracy Award (US), 2009, Alfonso Comin International Award (Spain), 2008, Medal of the
Italian Senate (2007), recognized in the list of "Heroes Acting to End Modern Day Slavery" by
the US State Department[, 2007, Freedom Award (US), 2006, Wallenberg Medal, awarded by
the University of Michigan , 2002, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Award (Germany) , 1999, Robert F.
Kennedy Human Rights Award (US), 1995, The Trumpeter Award (US), 1995, and The Aachener
International Peace Award (Germany), 1984. He also received Human Rights Award 1999.
Roads ahead: Although child labour declined substantially in many places, but almost 60% of
child labourers are still engaged in agriculture sector which is generally neglected. .Child
trafficking is a concern till date 11.5 million Children predominantly girls across the world are
engaged as child domestic labourers. Although most countries have their own laws to combat
and criminalise the worst forms of child labour and also the legal provisions that guarantee
education, but legislations regarding slavery and trafficking are not enforced and implemented
properly. Governments along with society members need to take initiative to implement those
laws properly. Despite the fact that Kailash Satyarthi has contributed immensely to reduce
child labour, it is time for all of us to think what lies ahead of us. We need to find a way of
making sure that employers, governments and ultimately the consumers of the products,
created by child labour, take all possible means to reduce/eradicate child labour. Let us not
forget that child labour appeared and continues to exist for some reasons: extreme poverty,
lack of social security,human greed to make more money, human need to buy cheap goods and
saving money etc. Until and unless, all of the above parties undertake concerted action, the
road ahead will be long and hard. Governments of exporting countries must eradicate poverty
so that parents of these children do not have to use their loved ones and send them to harm
their life in this manner. There must be social assistance to parents and their children to have at
least the basic necessities. Manufactures in exporting countries show some social responsibility
and be pro-active in devising HR policies and practices that is family focused and prohibitive of
any children employment. Businesses in importing countries must make sure that they are not

directly or indirectly involved in employment of children, and workplace practices that promote
profit over propriety. Consumers in Western countries must reduce their appetite to buy cheap
and promoting products that are made by unethical employment practices. Kailash plans to
extend the labeling program to other products such as soccer balls, another popular product

that is commonly made by children. Kailash says "If not now, then when? If not you, then who?
If we are able to answer these fundamental questions, then perhaps we can wipe away the blot
of human slavery."

Kailash Satyarthi says his heroes are the children he has saved from slavery.
TheNobel peace prize winner, 60, has been credited with helping to free about
80,000 children from bonded labour since he started his advocacy in the
1980s. He says the Nobel prize is an honour for my fellow Indians and for all
those children whose voice has never been heard before in the country.
Described as a tireless campaigner for childrens rights, Satyarthi
foundedBachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) save the childhood movement,
roughly translated from the Hindi in 1980. The organisation has sought to
educate the tens of thousands of children it has rescued, reintegrating them
into society. Satyarthi has led rescue missions for children and others working
in bonded labour in manufacturing industries, surviving several attacks on his
life in the process.
Born in 1954 in the Vidisha district of Madhya Pradesh in central India,
Satyarthi studied electrical engineering and obtained a postgraduate diploma
in high-voltage engineering. He taught as a professor in Bhopal before
dedicating himself to a life of advocacy against child labour and child
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BBA helped to initiate the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude, a
gathering of more than 750 civil society organisations. In 1994, Satyarthi
started Goodweave, the first voluntary labelling and certification system for
child labour-free rugs in south Asia.
In 1998, he organised the global march against child labour: more than 7.2
million people in 103 countries took part in what was the largest campaign on
the issue. The march informed the draft of the International Labour
Organisations convention 182, which addresses the worst forms of child

The children who marched with Satyarthi in 1998 were his inspiration, he has
said, because they were so selfless, energetic and committed to ending all
forms of child exploitation.
Satyarthi described his fight against child labour as a human rights issue and
linked this campaign to his advocacy for education. He is on the board of
theGlobal Campaign for Education, a coalition of civil society networks and
teachers associations campaigning for education for all.
BBA and Satyarthi, who has won a clutch of international development awards
including the US state departments Heroes Acting to End Modern Slavery
awardin 2007, also developed Bal Mitra Gram, or child friendly villages. There
are now about 350 such villages across 11 states of India, with most of the
work concentrated in Rajasthan and Jharkhand. Children take part in
governance bodies and youth groups, giving them a greater say in daily life.
Satyarthi has also helped children sold to pay their parents debts to find new
lives and act as agents of social change in their own communities.
He lives in New Delhi with his wife, daughter, son and daughter-in-law. He is
working to make child labour and slavery a feature of the the UNs
development agenda after the expiry of the millennium development goals in

Kailash Satyarthi (born
on January 11, 1954) is a
human rights activist
from India who has been
at the forefront of the
global movement to end
child slavery and
exploitative child labor
since 1980 when he gave
up a lucrative career as an
Electrical Engineer for
initiating crusade against
Child Servitude. As a
grassroots activist, he has
led the rescue of over
Kailash Satyarthi with children at Bal Ashram
78,500 child slaves and
developed a successful model for their education and rehabilitation. As a worldwide
campaigner, he has been the architect of the single largest civil society network for
the most exploited children, the Global March Against Child Labor,which is a
worldwide coalition of NGOs, Teachers' Union and Trade Unions.
As an analytical thinker, he made the issue of child labor a human rights issue, not
a welfare matter or a charitable cause. He has established that child labor is
responsible for the perpetuation of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, population
explosion and many other social evils. He has also played an important role in
linking the fight against child labor with the efforts for achieving 'Education for All'.
Mr. Satyarthi is a member of a High Level Group formed by UNESCO on Education
for All comprising of select Presidents, Prime Ministers and UN Agency Heads. As
one of the rare civil society leaders he has addressed the United Nations General
Assembly, International Labour Conference, UN Human Rights Commission,
UNESCO, etc and has been invited to several Parliamentary Hearings and
Committees in USA, Germany and UK in the recent past.
As an advocate for quality and meaning ful education, Mr. Kailash Satyarthi has
addressed some of the biggest worldwide congregations of Workers and Teachers
Congresses, Christian Assembly, Students Conferences, etc. as a keynote speaker
on the issue of child labour and education.
He is on the Board and Committee of several International Organizations. Amongst
all the prominent ones being in the Center for Victims of Torture (USA),
International Labor Rights Fund (USA), etc. Mr. Satyarthi is an executive Board
Member of International Cocoa Foundation with the Headquarters in Geneva
representing the global civil society.

He has survived numerous attacks on his life during his crusade to end child labour,
the most recent being the attack on him and his colleagues while rescuing child
slaves from garment sweatshops in Delhi on 17 March 2011. Earlier in 2004 while
rescuing children from the clutches of a local circus mafia and the owner of Great
Roman Circus, Mr. Satyarthi and his colleagues were brutally attacked. Despite of
these attacks and his office being ransacked by anti social elements a number of
times in the past his commitment to stand tall for the cause of child slaves has been
He has been honoured by the Former US President Bill Clinton in Washington for
featuring in Kerry Kennedy's Book Speak Truth to Power', where his life and work
featured among the top 50 human rights defenders in the world including Nobel
Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wessel, His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
He has edited magazines like Sangarsh Jari Rahega', Kranti Dharmi', and Asian
Workers Solidarity Link'. Besides, authored several articles and booklets on issues
of social concern and human rights.
He has set up three rehabilitation-cum-educational centres for freed bonded
children that resulted in the transformation of victims of child servitude into leaders
and liberators.
His life and work has been explicitly covered in hundreds of programmes on all the
prominent television and radio channels including Wall Street Journal, BBC, CNN,
ABC, NHK, Japan Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian T.V., ARD, Austrian News,
Lok Sabha TV etc. and profoundly featured in several magazines like The Time,
Life, Reader's Digest, Far Eastern Economist, Washington Post, New York Times,
Times London, Los Angeles Times, Guardian, Independent, The Times of India,
In addition, to the Global March Against Child Labor, other organizations he has
founded and/or led include Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the Global Campaign for
Education, and the Rugmark Foundation now known as Goodweave. He is the
Chair of another world body International Center on Child Labor and
Education (ICCLE) in Washington, D.C. ICCLE is one of the foremost policy
institution to bring authentic and abiding southern grassroots perspective in the US
policy domain.
"The Global March Against Child Labour is a movement to mobilise worldwide
efforts to protect and promote the rights of all children, especially the right to
receive a free, meaningful education and to be free from economic exploitation and
from performing any work that is likely to be harmful to the child's physical, mental,
spiritual, moral or social development."

Global March Against Child Labour is a movement born out of hope and the need
felt by thousands of people across the globe - the desire to set children free from
The Global March movement originated under the aegis of Mr. Kailash Satyarthi
with a worldwide march when thousands of people marched together to jointly put
forth the message against child labour. The march, which started on January 17,
1998, touched every corner of the globe, built immense awareness and led to high
level of participation from the masses. This march finally culminated at the ILO
Conference in Geneva. The voice of the marchers was heard and reflected in the
draft of the ILO Convention against the worst forms of child labour. The following
year, the Convention was unanimously adopted at the ILO Conference in Geneva.
Today, with 172 countries having ratified the convention so far, it has become the
fastest ratified convention in the history of ILO. A large role in this was played by
the Global March through our member partners.
With ILO conventions 138 and 182 as well as the UN Convention on Rights of the
Child forming the base of our movement, the Global March also perceives
education, and the Right to free and compulsory education of good quality for all
children, as non negotiable. Therefore the Global March also considers the EFA
goals under the Dakar Framework an equally important international instrument and
pushes for governments to achieve the goal of education for all.
Working on numbers is one thing, and direct efforts to end child labour have always
been a part of the Global March partner programmes. The Global March seeks to
eliminate child labour by questioning, attacking and changing the very systems that
compel children to work at the global, regional and national levels. What is key
therefore, in the fight to end child labour, is the need to advocate for policy
changes. The Global March works on a three pronged strategy, or what we call a
triangular paradigm. The three key processes affecting the future of the world, in
particular our children, are the elimination of child labour, Education For All and
poverty alleviation. Bringing together policy and action for a unified response to
child labour, illiteracy and poverty is a priority for the Global March.

The dedicated partners of the Global March movement form an effective network
around the world. Acting as vigilant observers and lobbying with governments in
their region, they form the backbone of the movement. The Global March
International Secretariat is located in New Delhi, India.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) founded by Mr. Kailash Satyarthi is the ray of
hope in millions of hearts, the first dream in their eyes, and the first smile on their
faces. It is the sky and wings together for innumerable children, excluded from
human identity and dignity, with a desire to fly in freedom. It is the tears of joy of a
mother who finds her rescued child back in her lap after years of helplessness and
hopelessness. It is a battle to open the doors of opportunities, a fire for freedom

and education in the hearts and souls of thousands of youth committed to wipe out
the scourge of slavery and ignorance from the face of mankind.
Rugmark (brainchild of Mr. Kailash Satyarthi) (now known as Goodweave) is an
international consortium of independent bodies from a dozen carpet exporting and
importing countries, which take part in a voluntary social labeling initiative to ensure
that rugs have not been produced with child labor. This initiative gives positive
alternatives to responsible businesses, protecting them from any possible boycott
and sanctions and gives an ethical choice to consumers worldwide. He is pursuing
the industries and other stakeholders to adopt a similar system for knitwear,
sporting goods and the other international common products.
The GoodWeave label is the best assurance that no child labor was used in the
making of your rug. In order to earn the GoodWeave label, rug exporters and
importers must be licensed under the GoodWeave certification program and sign a
legally binding contract to:
Adhere to the no-child-labor standard and not employ any person under age 14
2.Allow unannounced random inspections by local inspectors 3.Endeavor to pay
fair wages to adult workers 4.Pay a licensing fee that helps support GoodWeaves
monitoring, inspections and education programs To ensure compliance,
independent GoodWeave inspectors make unannounced inspections of each loom.
If inspectors find children working, they offer them the opportunity to go to school
instead, and the producers lose their status with GoodWeave. To protect against
counterfeit labeling, each label is numbered so its origin can be traced to the loom
on which the rug was produced.
GoodWeave also sets contractual standards for companies that import certified
rugs. Importers agree to source only from GoodWeave certified exporters in India,
Nepal and any other country in which GoodWeave rugs are available. In the United
States and other rug-importing countries, only licensed importers are legally
permitted to sell carpets carrying the GoodWeave label.
Importers and exporters also help support GoodWeave and its commitment to
provide rehabilitation and schooling for all rescued children. Exporters pay 0.25
percent of the export value of each rug, and importers pay a licensing fee of 1.75
percent of the shipment value. Licensing fees go toward monitoring, inspections
and educational programs that are part of the GoodWeave program.
GoodWeave's certification standards are set by GoodWeave International, an
associate member of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and
Labeling Alliance (ISEAL), which leads the world in setting norms and good
practices for certification. GoodWeave's national offices in producer countries
implement and enforce the standards.

Soon, the GoodWeave label will mean even more. In order to further the mission to
end child labor by addressing the root causes of the problem, GoodWeave's
certification standard will include other environmental and social criteria, guided by
ISEALs Codes of Good Practice. Licensees will be required to demonstrate that
their employees are working under safe conditions for a reasonable wage, among
other requirements. GoodWeave certified rugs will become greener, as licensees
work to identify negative impacts of production as well as ways to mitigate them.
Each producer will work with GoodWeave to develop a plan for improving working
conditions and environmental impacts over time.
The International Center on Child Labor and Education (ICCLE) is a 501 (c) 3
nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing worldwide efforts to advance the
rights of all children, especially to receive a free and meaningful education and to
be free from economic exploitation and any work that is hazardous, interferes with a
child's education, or is harmful to a child's health or physical, mental, spiritual,
moral or social development. The Center serves as the international advocacy
office of the Global March Against Child Labor, a movement representing some
2,000 organizations in 140 countries intended to highlight child slavery and
hazardous child labor. The Center also serves as a clearinghouse for the
dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge on global child labor
issues. ICCLE has built up a great deal of goodwill and respect by being a key
player in the establishment of the Global Task Force on Child Labor and Education
with UNESCO, the World Bank, ILO, UNICEF, and the Global March. Mr. Kailash
Satyarthi is the founder of ICCLE and is on the Board.

The life and work of Kailash Satyarthi have been the subject of a number of
documentaries, television series, talk shows, advocacy and awareness films,
Magazines and news items of all leading print and electronic media worldwide.
Satyarthi's contribution has been recognized through several prestigious
international awards. These include:
- Nobel Peace Prize 2014
- Defenders of Democracy Award (2009-USA)
- Alfonso Comin International Award (2008-Spain)
- Medal of the Italian Senate (2007-Italy)
- Heroes Acting to End Modern Day Slavey by US State Department (2007USA)
- Freedom Award (2006-USA)
- In October 2002, Satyarthi was awarded the Wallenberg Medal from
the University of Michigan in recognition of his courageous humanitarian
work against the exploitation of child labor.
- Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Award (1999-Germany)
- La Hospitalet Award (1999-Spain)
- De Gouden Wimpel Award (1998-Netherlands)
- Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award (1995-USA)

- The Trumpeter Award (1995-USA)

- The Aachener International Peace Award (1994-Germany)
Satyarthi lives in New Delhi, India. His family includes children, his wife, a son,
daughter-in-law, a daughter, colleagues and friends.

Satyarthi does not believe in combating child labor through an elite, bureaucratic,
academic, intellectual or narrow project-based approach. He felt that the people
who discuss and decide on the issue are culturally, spiritually and physically far
away from the victims. They indulge in bringing a few showpieces or case studies
for research and intellectual exercises that usually have a very limited impact. The
alternate is to go to the masses who are exploited and compelled to send their
children to a life of endless exploitation. Satyarthi promoted the approach of walks
and marches which had been used by saints and monks in ancient times for mutual
learning and spreading of human values.
The Yatras (marches) organized by him brought about a miracle in inspiring and
mobilizing the masses in remote villages, cities and towns, bringing media attention
and generating political debate on the issue of child labor.
- Bihar to Delhi March traveled 2000 kms from the heart of the carpet industry
employing child labor in Nagar Utari (Bihar) to Delhi in 1992
- Bharat Yatra Against Child Labor covered over 5000 kms from Kanyakumari
to Delhi in 1994
- South Asian Child Workers' Freedom March traveled 1500 kms from
Calcutta to Kathmandu in 1996
- Global March Against Child Labour across the world in 103 countries
traveled over 80,000 kms in 1998
- Shiksha Yatra was a nationwide march on education covering 15,000 kms
across the length and breadth of the country in 2001
- South Asian March Against Child Trafficking, a march to stop trafficking for
forced labour in Indo-Nepal-Bangladesh border covering 5,000 km in 2007
- Dozens of other national and international marches were also organized
The most significant component in these
marches was that the child laborers, freed
bonded children and their parents were
among the key participants and leaders.
This gave an enormous value to the
events. Some 50-200 marchers
participated as core marchers who are
joined by hundreds and thousands of local
marchers en route everyday. The local
organizers convene rallies, meetings,

seminars, musical and cultural events at 4 or 5 points each day. This becomes a
combination of fun, learning, teaching and sharing.
Satyarthi, in the course of his crusade realized that the battle for child labor
eradication cannot be fought by the strength of NGOs alone. Involvement of
influential segments of society like religious leaders, politicians, trade unions,
lawyers and other intellectual groups is a must. Keeping this in view, he initiated
dialogues and meetings with concerned individuals and groups and achieved
success in forming the inter-religious forum on child servitude, trade union forum on
child servitude, parliamentary forum on education, lawyers forum and so on. All
these outfits are rendering enormous support to the campaigns of SACCS and
BBA. For example, the Parliamentary Forum helps in raising the child labor and
education problems in Parliament and pressurizes the government to initiate
measures. The lawyers offer legal aid and other facilities to freed children and help
rehabilitate them. Trade unions also play a very important role to spread the
message that removal of child labor directly reduces unemployment among adults.
The trade unions also participate in demonstrations and rallies to reinforce the
His numerous campaigns with innovative strategies against child labor in stone
quarries, brick kilns, carpet industry, fire crackers industry, glass bangles industry,
zari (embroidery) industry, sporting goods, circus industry, cocoa plantations,
domestic work, and child trafficking, etc. have lead the transformation of the issue
of child labor to a worldwide mass movement.
Convention of the World Conference on Education
He and his team convened the first international-level civil society conference
'World Congress on Education' in 2001 to build and strengthen the Global
Campaign for Education. The Congress was a success in laying a strong
foundation for civil society efforts to promote education.

A chilly night on a stone bench: conceptual birth of the first child labor free
It was in the winter of 1989, when
Satyarthi and his associates had rescued
10 child slaves from the carpet looms of
Mirzapur, the notorious carpet belt of Uttar
Pradesh state. The children were then
escorted back by him to their native village
in neighboring Bihar state, about 300 km
away from Mirzapur. While happily
awaiting at the Mirzapur railway station for
his late night return train to Delhi, he got
the shock of his life. A batch of 50 children were brought out with two middlemen to

take them to carpet looms. Instead of catching the train, he tried to stop the
middlemen from taking away the children. Suddenly, the police appeared on the
scene and took the side of the middlemen. Satyarthi was unofficially detained at the
police post of the railway platform for alleged disruption of the peace. Sitting on the
chilling stone bench on the cold winter night, his mind rattled and came to the
conclusion that mere rescue operations are meaningless unless pressure is exerted
by the consumers which will be an economic threat for the child employers. It was
necessary because of the unholy nexus between the industry and the law enforcing
The consumer awareness campaign initiated by Satyarthi in Europe posed a
general threat of the boycott of carpets, whereas the concept was only to
discourage buying of carpets made by child slaves and simultaneously promote
goods produced without child labor. Hence, Satyarthi soon embarked on a labeling
system which would monitor, certify and affix labels on carpets free from child labor.
His relentless two-year exercise, dialogue with NGOs, trade and export promotion
professionals, Indo-German Export Promotion (IGEP) Council, UNICEF and a
socially concerned segment of the carpet industry, enabled him to establish an
independent, non-commercial, professional mechanism to monitor and label
carpets. Thus Rugmark came into being in 1994. Since then, 4.3 million rugmark
labeled carpets have been sold. His pro-active efforts to spread the labeling system
have ensured rugmark establishments in Germany, USA, UK, Nepal and Pakistan
as well.
Rugmark in now universally recognized as the first social labeling mechanism on
the issue of child labor and one of the pioneers of corporate social responsibility
and ethical trade campaign in the world.
Tirupur, an industrial town in South India, is the hub of garment and hosiery
manufacturing units. It also has about 30,000 children in the labor force. The
initiative of Satyarthi to bring the industry and child rights NGOs on a negotiating
platform to replace child labor with adults resulted in the formation of a Committee
on Child Labor. Efforts are being made to establish a monitoring and labeling
system 'Knitmark' for garments produced without child labor.
Fairplay Campaign
Many children in India, Pakistan and other countries who stitch football and make
other sporting goods with their tiny hands never find a chance to play with them.
This shameless situation provoked Satyarthi to initiate the Fairplay Campaign in
India in the mid-90s that has helped in exposing the plight of children as well as
pressurizing the industry and authorities to find a solution. About a year before the
FIFA World Cup 2002, he and his Global March team spearheaded a very powerful
FIFA World Cup Campaign asking FIFA to fulfill its Code of Conduct which includes
the elimination of child labor and fair wages for adult workers.FIFA World Cup
CampaignThe FIFA World Cup Campaign 2002 by Global March was a year long

effort to raise awareness and to take steps for the elimination of child labor through
highlighting cases of child labor in the sporting goods industry, especially football
stitching. The campaign focused on getting FIFA and the manufacturers to
implement their Code of Labor Practices and make the FIFA World Cup 2002 free
of child labor. It also demanded fair wages for the adult workers. The campaign was
successful in mobilizing support from football players, football fans, trade unions,
NGOs, fair trade organizations, and concerned children and adults from across the
world.The World Cup came to an end in June 2002 but a follow-up plan is
underway which most importantly will see the handing over to FIFA of petitions
collected during the year-long campaign. It will also reopen the dialogue with major
International Cocoa Initiative
Satyarthi is one of the key architects of the ICI which has been created with the aim
to eliminate forced and child labour in the growing and processing of cocoa beans
and its derivatives including chocolates. ICI has been pressurizing the chocolate
industry to guarantee non-employment of children, motivating parents to send their
children to schools and evolving procedures and mechanisms for the rehabilitation
and repatriation of children.
Child Participation
He conceptualized the principle of child participation with the belief that victims
themselves have take led against exploitations they have faced. Thousands of
children's rescued by satyarthi have now actively taken up the cause of advocating
for themselves and other children. These children and youth have been a driving
force in the formation and growth of BBA, saccs and global march. Much before the
international recognition of the concept of child participation, satyarthi was
translating the principle in letter, spirit and action. He organised the two children's
world congresses on child labor in florence, italy (2004) and new delhi, india (2005)
in which democratically elected former child laborers from across the globe joined
hands, pledged and voiced their opinions in front of world leaders, and came out
with a 'children's declaration' to put an end to the menace of child labor and ensure
education for all.
Triangular Paradigm
For sustainable development Satyarthi established the 'triangular paradigm'
exploring the relationships between child labor elimination, education for all and
poverty alleviation. He has systematically engaged and sustained to draw attention
of the international community including the finance, labor and education ministries
of strategic countries, UN agencies, bilateral, multilateral and donor agencies about
the need for convergent policies, planning and action on this triangular paradigm.
He has proposed and led the formation of a global task force on child labor and
education of the aforesaid international stakeholders, as an institutional mechanism

to build coherence and for the realization of millennium development goals (MDG),
dakar framework of action and international conventions on child labor.

Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the
Childhood Movement) - 1980
Founded by in 1980 by Kailash Satyarthi,
Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA)
symbolizes the struggle against child labor
and child servitude. BBA started its work in
the stone quarries of north India against
bondage, slavery and child labor, when
child labor was a non-issue. No political,
legal or civil society initiative existed
against it. The common perception was
that children were working due to poverty and people saw nothing unusual about it,
rather considering it as a necessary evil for economic development. BBA's original
idea was daring and dangerous. BBA's activists led by satyarthi decided to mount
raids on factories - factories frequently manned by armed guards - where children
and often entire families were held captive as bonded workers.
One of the outstanding achievements of BBA as a volunteer based organization,
besides freeing thousands of bonded children, has been to enroll more than 80,000
individuals from all walks of life as members of the movement.
Satyarthi is the Founder Chairperson of BBA which has carved a niche for itself in
combating child labor through varied programs at the central, state, district and
block levels. The movement has picked up tremendous pace and the involvement
of the masses will continue yielding fruitful results in the days to come.
Stone Quarry Workers Union - 1980
During 1980's, quarry workers in Haryana, Rajasthan etc. were among the most
exploited people of the country, being unorganized and unaware of their rights.
Satyarthi brought a ray of hope and aspiration in their life by teaching them to
unionize. The unorganized quarry workers of Faridabad (Haryana state) and
Ramganjmandi (Rajasthan state) along with their children were leading a life worse
than animals, as the employers were treating them as complete slaves. Despite
threats to Satyarthi's life, he arranged meetings and regular contact programs to
awaken their lost pride. He taught them to unite and fight for their rights, as a result
of which the Stone Quarry Workers Union was formed, and is today a force to be
reckoned with. They also have learnt to attain their rights with the help of Courts of
Law. The net result was the elimination of child labor in those areas.
Brick-Kiln Workers Union - 1981

Like the quarry workers, brick-kiln workers in the states of Haryana, western Uttar
Pradesh and Rajasthan are the most backward and exploited segment of society.
Their destiny was completely in the hands of the employers. Most of them were
bonded laborers. The sexual abuse of women workers was a common feature.
Satyarthi showed them the necessity of organizing and raising their voice against
exploitation and injustice. His frequent interactions with them resulted in the
formation of Brick-Kiln Workers Union in 1981.
Both of these Unions were among the very first initiative of unions of migrant
unorganized dalit (socially oppressed) workers.
South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude (SACCS) - 1989
During his crusade against slavery, he found children to be the most affected
victims as they are physically, mentally and emotionally vulnerable and need
immediate attention. He always believed that childhood is today and today only tomorrow is too far. He felt that the situation of working children was essentially the
same throughout the South Asian nations. This concept motivated him to initiate
and form a network of organizations and groups which could work directly or
indirectly to wipe out child exploitation from the region and provide children with
meaningful education.
With this objective in mind, he traveled throughout South Asia and motivated
individuals and organizations to launch battles against child slavery in their
countries. It happened in 1987 when he convinced and motivated the 'Bhatta
Mazdoor Mahaz' (Brick-Kiln Workers Front) led by Mr. Ehsan Ullah Khan in
Pakistan, to form an organization against the bonded labor system and child
servitude which hitherto remained unnoticed and neglected by all sections of
society in the country. His efforts breathed success when the Supreme Court of
Pakistan delivered a historic judgement on bonded labor on the lines of the
judgement awarded by the Supreme Court of India, based on several petitions
which Satyarthi had been able to pass on to his partners across the border.
Subsequently, the Bonded Labor Liberation Front of Pakistan was formed in 1988
which later became the nodal partner of SACCS.
Satyarthi, in association with Anti-Slavery International (London), convened the first
South Asian Seminar on Child Servitude in New Delhi, which was attended by
several NGOs, human rights organizations, trade unions etc. from India, Pakistan,
Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The meeting culminated in the formation of the
South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude (SACCS) which now is a network of more
than 750 NGOs, teachers unions, trade unions, and human rights organizations.
Global March Against Child Labor - 1998

Satyarthi always believed that it would only

be through the collective participation of
the whole community that success in
ending child labor could be achieved. His
dreams have come true with the
conception of a worldwide physical march
of children and social activists, the 'Global
March Against Child Labor', which now is
an international network of more than 2000
international and national NGOs and trade
unions in over 140 countries. The purpose of this huge movement is to raise
awareness about the worldwide nature of child labor, and to call on all national
governments to adopt and enforce laws for the total elimination of child labor. In
almost all the countries, the march was well received by national leaders and
Heads of State. The Presidents and Prime Ministers of Turkey, Spain, France,
Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Chile, Ecuador and Panama
called on the core marchers. The Global March also received warm messages of
support from Presidents Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, Jacques Chirac and Prime
Minister Tony Blair.
As a result of the tireless efforts of this movement, the international community has
finally agreed to tackle the menace of child servitude with determination and
realism. The unanimous adoption of the Convention against the Worst Forms of
Child Labor on 17 June, 1999 at the International Labor Conference in Geneva
came as a moral victory for the Global March Against Child Labor, the largest social
movement ever for exploited children.
Global Campaign for Education - 1999
Satyarthi played a pivotal role in the formation of Global Campaign for Education
(GCE) which has emerged as the strongest civil society voice on the issue. It is a
network of national, regional and international NGOs and teachers unions on the
issue of education for all. Education International, Oxfam International, Action Aid
Alliance, Save the Children Fund, World Vision, etc. are among the key members of
GCE, besides the Global March Against Child Labor. It has been very active in
lobbying governments and donor agencies to increase education spending, and
mobilizing grassroots support for the acceptance of the importance of education in
human and social development.

Kailash Satyarthi is a strong believer of the
ancient Indian Vedic teaching 'Vasudhaiv
Kutumbakam' (One World One Family). He
was born in 1954 at Vidisha in central
India. Vidisha is a very old town which is
well known for giving birth to one of the
first Buddhist Ambassadors, Mahendra
and Sangamitra (son and daughter of
Emperor Ashoka). However, the Prince
and Princess gave up the Kingdom and
opted for Monkhood to spread Buddhism in India and other countries like Sri Lanka,
Burma, etc.
Inspired by this history since childhood, Satyarthi strictly opposed all barriers of
nations, religions, class and cultures which divide humans. He started his
international role by linking sustainable development with indigenous cultures
through a regional organization Asian Cultural Forum on Development. He served
them as the country coordinator. He was also elected as the Convenor of Asian
Workers Solidarity Link which was essentially working among the unorganized
sector. These platforms let him highlight the plight of child slaves from India and
South Asia in a strong way. During his struggle against bonded labor, he brought
the issue before the UN Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery in
Geneva, which was not an easy task due to the vengeful functioning of the Indian
and other South Asian governments. The governments were very sensitive
because they were completely denying the existence of child slavery. Many threats
and hurdles were faced on the way.
Despite all odds he forged ahead and continued his march. Satyarthi has been
inspiring, initiating and leading civil society organizations in all continents of the
globe. He has emerged as one of the most powerful orators and advocates of the
disadvantaged, oppressed and exploited children of the world.

He has built a strong support base due to his worldwide consumers awareness
campaign against the use of products made by children. In the course of preparing
for the Global March and during the actual march, he traveled to almost all major
countries making personal as well as professional friends. These include people
from all walks of life from very ordinary citizens, to lawmakers and heads of
governments. But, whether in the US or Latin America, or Africa, or Europe or the
middle east or India, what he enjoys most, is his very personal bond with children,
of love, of friendship.
Through all his thoughts, words and deeds, Satyarthi expresses his personal
commitment to bringing freedom and joy to the children of the world.

Satyarthi's strategic, well-defined and organized efforts helped in bringing
numerous changes to national and international plans and legislation. A few of his
remarkable achievements in this regard are:

Redefining the Bonded Labor System in India 1983

The legal and judicial interventions by Satyarthi and his organization resulted in
obtaining landmark judgements from the Supreme Court of India. The 'BMM vs
Union of India' ruling gave a new interpretation to the constitutionally prohibited
forced labor and bonded labor. Through this historic judgement, those who are
denied minimum wages were brought under the legal definition of forced labor and
bonded labor.

Domestic Child Labor 1999

Satyarthi and his team liberated a 7-year old boy Ashraf from the residence of a
senior government official. This domestic servant was branded with a hot iron rod

all over his body for committing the mistake of drinking the leftover milk in a glass.
Satyarthi took Ashraf personally before the Chairman of the National Human Rights
Commission (NHRC), and requested the Commission to not only do justice to the
child but also make a provision that prohibits government employees from
employing child servants. After a long battle, the central government and over a
dozen state governments agreed to amend their Employees' Service rules. This
has been a major breakthrough.

ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor 1999

A good amount of credit for the formation of this law goes to him and the Global
March movement. He was the one who invariably brought the demand to combat
bonded child labor, child slavery, children in hazardous occupations, through his
testimonies before the UN Working Group on Slavery since the mid-80s. The
Global March Against Child Labor had this as one of its key demands. The most
critical issue was to convince the tripartite constituents to agree to include a
provision where civil society and children themselves are consulted in designing,
implementing and monitoring of the ILO Convention. Satyarthi single-handedly
tackled this difficult tangle with the working and employers bodies in ILO.93rd
Constitutional Amendment Bill 2002Satyarthi has led a sustained nationwide
campaign to galvanize mass support to demand a change in India's Constitution to
make education a fundamental right. He has also been able to gather the support of
over 160 individual Parliament members from all major political parties in support of
the demand. A six-month long struggle 'Shiksha Yatra' (Education March) was a
huge effort in this regard. Eventually, the Constitution was amended by both
houses of Parliament in the 2002 to make Education a fundamental right.Bringing
Child Labor on the Global AgendaIn the late eighties and early nineties, Satyarthi
had a tireless crusade in Germany to motivate lawmakers like Dr. Kubler, Minister
Norburt Blum and others to take pro-active measures on child labor. In the process,
the German politicians were convinced to earmark funds for the elimination of child
labor in developing countries including India. Satyarthi presented the idea of a
multilateral and sustained funding pattern instead of a short-term bilateral funding,
which was appreciated and agreed upon. Thus, a decision was taken to spend the
money through ILO. The International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor
(IPEC) was the concrete outcome of these basic efforts.
Satyarthi had brought the issue very effectively before bilateral donors and
development agencies who early had very little focus on child labor. Gradually,
however, there was a considerable shift in their funding behaviour and the issue of
child labor became established as a priority.


Casting Away Caste

When Satyarthi was 15 years old, he came

into contact with the ground realities of the
caste system. He used to listen and be
inspired by the flowery words and
speeches of the leaders and politicians on
the necessity of breaking the caste barrier.
In 1969, the country was celebrating the
birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi, the
doyen of the social justice movement in
India. Satyarthi and a few chosen friends
decided to invite local leaders and politicians of the so-called 'high caste' to a
community dinner in which food prepared by the so-called 'low caste' untouchables
would be served. Though the leaders and politicians accepted the invitation, none
turned up at the dinner venue. Satyarthi was stunned when he came to know after
reaching home that the high caste people were trying to implement a social boycott
of his family because he had taken the food prepared by low caste people. He was
terribly disappointed at the hypocrisy and hollowness of the leaders who preach
something and practice just the opposite. He informed the leaders that for his fault
his entire family should not be punished and gave up his caste name and chose
'Satyarthi' which means the 'seeker of truth'. That incident transformed his life

Temple Entry of Untouchables

In 1987, Satyarthi led a group belonging to low caste, popularly known as
'untouchables', for whom entry into temples was almost impossible due to the
violent prejudices of the upper caste. Leading a group of about 200 untouchables,
he forcibly entered the Nathdwara temple (Rajasthan) which is the biggest and
most prestigious Hindu shrine in north India. Entry for untouchables (dalits) was
strictly prohibited in this temple. Although, he was mercilessly beaten up by the
goons and members of the priest community, he was successful in drawing the
attention of the whole country towards this social injustice. The press extensively
covered this event, which embarrassed the upper caste and the government as
well. The President of India could not remain silently at the sidelines. He
announced a personal visit to the temple with the untouchables. The net result of
Satyarthi's efforts is that the temple is now open to all castes.

Soshanmedh Yagna at Varanasi

On 10 December 1996, when the country was observing the World Human Rights
Day, Satyarthi chose to honor the day in his unique style. In Varanasi (the holy city
of Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the Ganges), he organized a Yagna (oblation to
Lord Fire) combining human rights and spiritual values. In an unconventional
manner, he invited the parents of enslaved children from the lowest caste, the high
caste priest, sociologists, lawyers and human rights advocates to participate in this
sacred ritual where a joint pledge was taken to liberate the slave children as the
real worship of God. Immediately, the participants set off to physically rescue the

children. This was a unique combination of spiritualism, age-old cultural traditions

and dedication to human rights.

Book Bank for Poor Children
Even as a 12 year old boy, the young Satyarthi used to observe social problems
and tried to find solutions to the best of his ability and reach. He used to observe
that many of his school going colleagues were forced to discontinue their studies
due to financial hurdles. He had discovered that while going to higher grades the
students usually threw away their used books. A novel idea propelled him to
engage a hand-drawn cart and started calling out for discarded books in his
hometown. He felt excited over his achievement of collecting over 2000 books in
one day. This taught him a new lesson on how people's participation could be
brought in if a person has the determination to solve a problem. Later, he and a few
friends set up a book bank which used to lend these books to poor children and
help them to pursue their studies without economic burden on their parents.
After a few years, he also formed a youth group in his town which used to generate
petty funds by organizing fetes, running teashops, polishing boots etc. during
various social occasions. The money raised was then used to pay school fees for
needy children.

Liberating Thousands of Child

Satyarthi has been instrumental in freeing
thousands of child slaves from numerous
industries. He has evolved various
strategies and methods to secure freedom
for the slave children. These include direct
action, secret raids, judicial interventions,
parental motivation, community
mobilization, persuading and pressurizing
employers, etc. Hundreds of real life
stories of his liberation operations have motivated countless people to join the fight
against child labor. He remembers with clarity the heartrending incident of 1982
from one of the first rescue operations.
It was in March 1982 that the freed bonded girl Gulabo (14 years) breathed her last
in the lap of Satyarthi, crying out 'save me, save me, my mother'. The girl had
contracted tuberculosis while she was working at a brick-kiln in a north Indian
province. She was a slave like 32 others. It was only after great difficulties and
strenuous efforts that Satyarthi and his associates had procured court orders for
their release. However, when they reached the site, the employer had already
driven the slave laborers away. The children were later found deserted on the

roadside. It was raining heavily and Gulabo was running a high fever. But, Satyarthi
could not reach the hospital in time and the girl succumbed to the disease.
He also recalls Kalu, a 13 year old boy who asked a straight question to none other
than President Bill Clinton, 'Whose children are these 250 million child laborers?
Who will feel responsible to free them, if not you?' The boy was invited, along with
Satyarthi, by Mrs. Kerry Kennedy Cuomo to Washington, D.C., on the occasion of
the release of her book 'Speak Truth to Power', where Satyarthi's life and work is
portrayed with 49 other champions of human rights in the contemporary world. Kalu
was kidnapped from his village when he was 9 years old and taken 500 miles away,
where he was enslaved in a small home based carpet factory for three years. Later,
rescued by Satyarthi, he was rehabilitated in a center run by SACCS. A brilliant
student, Kalu was promoted to four grades in two years and has always stood first
in the village public school exams.

Model Transit Rehabilitation

Securing the education and rehabilitation
of freed child laborers has always been an
uphill battle. Though there are several
government schemes on paper, they have
never been properly and promptly
implemented due to bureaucratic hurdles,
apathy of the officials and corruption.
There is often no facility of schooling for
children in the slums of migrant laborers
near the areas of stone quarry, construction sites, brick kilns, etc. since such areas
are normally outside villages and towns. Secondly, the children freed from
exploitative labor and bondage require special psycho-socio attention and an
adapted curriculum. In the mid-80's, Satyarthi developed such special need schools
in stone quarry areas in the North Indian state of Haryana with the active
involvement of parents, community and children. He motivated the working parents
to contribute through their labor in the construction of school buildings for their
These schools could solve the problem of local children who still live with their
families, but the bigger challenge was to rehabilitate the children who are lured
away or kidnapped, separated from their families and confined to work places for
years. Satyarthi and his colleagues have initiated and established three centers for
them Mukti Ashram, Balika Ashram and Bal Ashram. The purpose was not only to
give them a transitory shelter, basic educational skills and vocational training, but
also to shape them into confident and enlightened young leaders who can help in
securing the freedom of their fellow community people.
The children stay in these centers for at least six months when a comprehensive
development effort is made by their dedicated trained staff, some of whom were

once slaves themselves. The young children are provided with a basic education to
ensure that they can be enrolled into public schools. The adolescents are given skill
training with a non-formal education. Satyarthi himself spends much of his available
time with the children to celebrate social and cultural events and festivals of all
religions to motivate them. At any given time, about 200 children freed from
bondage and labor stay in these centers.

He has personally inspired, encouraged and supported many non-governmental

organizations to take responsibility for the rehabilitation, education and training of
child laborers by establishing similar centers or special schools. Besides Rugmark
India and their successful centers, dozens of other projects are run by NGOs
supported through the Indian Rehabilitation Committee (IRC) of which Satyarthi is
the founder.

Bal Mitra Gram (Child Friendly Village)

The concept of Bal Mitra Gram (BMG) is an approach developed by satyarthi for
total elimination of child labor and enrolment of all children into schools in target
villages, through community participation and empowerment of children and the
local people. Children of the villages then elect their representatives into the Bal
Panchayat (Children's Parliament), which in turn is represented in the Village
Panchayat (Village Governing Body). The children take up development issues for
the common benefit of the village at the village panchayat meetings and jointly find
solutions to their problems. The broad guiding principles behind this concept are
parental persuasion, community participation, teachers' motivation, children's
empowerment, the involvement of village Panchayats, democratic values, gender
sensitivity and equity, social equity and justice, social harmony and awareness of
human security issues.

There are more than a 100 model bmgs in india today and a process of replication
has been initiated in other countries.

Children are always preferred for employment as they are vulnerable and docile,
and their labor is cheap. Child servitude is illegal but the vicious nexus of
unscrupulous factory owners, local police and politicians allow it to perpetuate.
Satyarthi emerged as the single biggest threat to this alliance in a number of
industries like stone mines, brick kilns, carpet, glass bangles, fire crackers, sporting
goods and many more, which grow at the cost of the childhood of millions. His
crusade, though aggressive, but religiously non-violent and lawful raiding of
factories and mines, bringing national and international media to cover such
operations, calling for the boycott of child labor made goods, and organizing legal

and political interventions have fuelled the anger of powerful business interests.
They have been keen to silence his voice and Satyarthi has been lucky to escape
many of the sudden as well as planned attempts on his life. One of the most
organized attempts to eliminate him failed in 1995.
In India, the carpet mafia had long been looking for an opportune moment to
physically liquidate Satyarthi. Coincidentally, Sheena Exports, a top notch Indian
carpet and garment exporter had faced cancellation of an export order worth US $7
million from a German firm on the alleged use of child labor. The cancellation order
came in the wake of a televised show of a European TV network, in which clips of
child labor working in the looms were displayed. The network also had combined it
with an interview of Satyarthi.
Somehow, the exporter was able to obtain an arrest warrant against Satyarthi on
false charges. He was arrested on 1 June 1995 and was kept in police custody in
Delhi. Later on, his lawyers obtained bail for him. The case is still dragging on at the
High Court in Chandigarh. The mafia kept vigil at the residence of Satyarthi and
SACCS office. His family members and the office staff also faced their wrath.
As recently as June 2004 an attack was
made on him while rescuing trafficked and
enslaved nepalese girls from a circus in
india. He along with his son and fellow
activists was brutally beaten up and
miraculously escaped this pre-planned
attack on his life. The nepalese
complainants parents were told by the
local administration that their children
never existed. The young girls had been
forcibly taken to a hideout by the circus mafia in connivance with the authorities.
While many others would have given up in such a situation, an injured Satyarthi
came out of the hospital and went on a hunger fast in protest of the girls' continued
captivity in front of the state assembly. Satyarthi's continued efforts eventually led
the release of the girls after years of exploitation and abuse.
Many such attacks on him, including threats to his family and his personal safety,
break-ins and arson of his offices and home, and even murders of his colleagues
have not deterred him from his chosen path of truth, freedom and justice.