Kailash Sharma was no ordinary child. He once noticed a little boy, the son of a cobbler, sitting with his father outside his school compound. He asked his teacher, the Headmaster, and even the cobbler himself, why the child wasn’t in school. He was told that the cobbler couldn’t afford the school fees, and that some children are ‘born to work.’ Young Kailash was not satisfied with these answers.
He grew up, changed his surname to ‘Satyarthi’, meaning ‘seeker of truth’, became an engineer and got a job. But he kept thinking of the children who were not able to study or play, and instead, had to work long hours to earn money for their families.
He gave up his job, and founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the Save Childhood Movement. It works to create a world where no child is forced to work, and all children get free education. It has already freed over 86,000 exploited children.
Satyarthi found that many children worked in unhealthy conditions for very small wages in the carpet industry, to produce rugs that were sold at high prices all over the world. He started GoodWeave International. Carpet-making companies in south Asia which on their own say they won’t employ children are members. The rugs they produce carry a label saying no child labour was used. GoodWeave International works to make sure people know that, as responsible customers, they should look for that label.
In 1998 Satyarthi led the Global March against Child Labour through 103 countries, covering 80,000 km, to draw attention to the problem of working children. It became one of the largest movements against exploitation of children.
The Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to him in 2014. Satyarthi has won many other awards too.
India is proud of Kailash Satyarthi.