Anadi Naik

The Nobel Peace Prize shared by Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai involves children from both sides of the India Pakistan divide. Satyarthi works to free children from working as laborers in carpet factories, restaurants and elsewhere. He opens shelters for them and helps them to go to school. Because of him laws have been passed to protect children in India. In the same way Malala Yousafzai, a seventeen year old, works to spread education among girls in Pakistan. While doing so she almost lost her life. Because she was passionate about sending girls to schools instead of they being used as child-brides or confined to their homes the Taliban tried to kill her four years ago. Today, from a relatively safe surrounding in the U.K. she continues to fight for her cause. By linking Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi together, the Nobel Committee also has helped link their respective countries together.

From the beginning, India and Pakistan have had a conflict-ridden relationship .Over Kashmir, they have gone to war on several occasions. In spite of everything they have tried, their daily skirmish on the border continues. Each country over the years, has developed nuclear weapons to feel safe. However, by recognizing the works of Satyarthi and Yousafzai the Nobel Committee seems to have recognized that both Pakistan and India have a much bigger problem – socially and economically – that goes beyond any physical defense. Millions of their children are at risk. Children being the future, the countries by neglecting them put their own future in jeopardy. For Indian citizens and those who are of Indian origin Satyarthi’s Nobel Prize is a matter of pride. After Mother Theresa he is the second person from Indian soil to have received the coveted Peace prize. Yet, the problem of child labor indicates maladies of the society as a whole and glorification of one individual’s extraordinary work is not going to solve this problem. Activists, political leaders, the business community and everybody around them must offer a helping hand.

Exploitation of children and export of goods from India sometimes seems to go hand in hand. Children provide cheap labor. When their employment becomes illegal, many business owners feel challenged. They do not look at the situation kindly. For some businesses Satyarthi’s work does not look good and they resent his activities. Now that he has become a Nobel Lauriat, a recognized figure in India’s public life, his words would carry more weight on behalf of the country’s children.

Both Yousafzai and Satyarthi have said that they would invite the prime ministers of their respective countries to Oslo to share the occasion with them. The underlying idea is that with their presence the occasion would help build a good relationship between the two countries.

May be.Like the issues that both Nobel Lauriat espouse, building peace between India and Pakistan is utterly complicated. For example, Pakistan’s decision making process is dominated by its military. In order to remain relevant it needs a continuous conflict with India. Even if India is a democracy, a preparation for an eventual conflict with Pakistan keeps its defense establishment busy and humming. A Primr Minister may say yes or no to peace but carrying the entire establishment along is another matter. However, a symbolic effort has its own brand of effectiveness. Should the two prime ministers choose to meet to share the pride of their two countries, it would be a good gesture, to say the least.

Malala Yousafzai is the second Nobel Lauriat for Pakistan. It is unfortunate that many in her country do not appreciate her or the work she does. It has more to do with the internal dynamics of Pakistan. Abdus Sattar, another Nobel Lauriat from Pakistan is not appreciated by the mainstream Pakistanis because he belongs to the Ahamadiya sect. Both Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi are national treasures. They have raised the importance of issues involving children. It is about time, their countries recognize the problem and work on it.

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