At a time when India and Pakistan are fighting over ceasefire violations and defacing websites, all hope is not lost. The Nobel foundation announced the news of Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai jointly winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Kailash Satyarthi is the first Indian born to win the Nobel Peace Prize and overall eighth Indian to win the prize. There is another first to it, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person to win a Nobel prize in its 113-year-old history.
The Nobel Committee in the official announcement said,
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Children must go to school and not be financially exploited. In the poor countries of the world, 60% of the present population is under 25 years of age. It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected. In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.
Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain. He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.
Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzay has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.
Malala Yousafzai is a well known face, and she came to prominence for her crusade towards education and rights of the girl child across the world. On 9th Oct 2012 while on her way to school, she was shot in the head in her school bus. The bullets bruised past her skin but she was severely wounded. As support grew around, Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the UK, launched a petition in her name under the slogan 'I am Malala'. Malala made it to the cover of Time magazine in April 2013. Even before the attack, Malala had been blogging anonymously for BBC Urdu under the byline, 'Gul Makai (cornflower)'. She had been recognized multiple times for her activism related to education and has been in limelight after her biography came out.
But not much is known about Kailash Satyarthi, her Indian counterpart who will be sharing the prize with her.
Kailash Satyarthi was born in Vidisha (a city near Bhopal) on 11th Jan 1954. He is an electrical engineer by education and was teaching in an engineering college in Bhopal before he quit his job and ventured into social service. Kailash is mainly known as the founder of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan which he started in 1980 to fight child labor and protect child rights. He has attacked the root cause of the problem by giving access to quality education and helping parents pay their debts and lead new lives. Bachpan Bachao Andolan was one of the India's earliest civil society campaigns. Till date it has impacted the life of over 80,000 children through its programs. To fight child labor, Bachpan Bachao Andolan creates and spreads awareness to resist the usage of products made by bonded children. They also help people with legal and advocacy work when it comes to children. He also started Rugmark - a program to certify rugs and carpets which are made in child labor free factories. The program was later renamed as GoodWeave.
Former Prime Minister of Britain Gordon Brown, a close friend of both said,
They are two of my best friends and two of the greatest global campaigners who deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for their courage, determination and for their vision that no child should ever be left behind and that every child should have the best of chances.
Kailash’s life-long work in India fighting child labour – which I have had the privilege to see at first hand complements Malala’s work standing up for girls’ rights to education from Pakistan to the rest of the world.
Both are members of the emergency coalition for global education that Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela’s widow and I have the honour of chairing and their deep-seated commitment to children’s rights will ensure that no injustice can last forever.
Earlier Indian winners of the Nobel Prize include - Rabindranath Tagore for Literature in 1913, C.V. Raman for Physics in 1930, Har Gobind Khorana for Medicine in 1968, Mother Teresa for Peace in 1979, S. Chandrasekhar for Physics in 1983), Amartya Sen for Economics in 1998) and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan for Chemistry in 2009.