Good Morning. It is mid-November again – a very special occasion for us. November 14 is celebrated as Children’s Day. We Indians celebrate the birthday of the country’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, today. His fondness for children and his deep bonding with them is legendary. Celebrating children in schools and educational institutions, at homes, and in families is our way of honoring Chacha Nehru and his vision for the nation, which rests solidly on the shoulders of our young ones. It is through the enthusiasm and aspirations of the children of our country can we manage to achieve the glory that Indian society deserves.
Children’s Day is a day of fun, and our school/institution, like many others in the country, shall host several entertaining programmes and exciting competitions for the children. The Day, however, shall not be complete without a reflection of the ideals and values that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru lived by. Coming from a very privileged background did not affect Nehruji’s outlook. His education and his family opulence were quite enough to have earned him a place of honour in British India. Yet, he chose to side with Mahatma Gandhi and throw himself into the heart of the Indian freedom struggle. From Civil Disobedience to Satyagraha from jail terms to negotiating the terms of our independence, Nehruji dedicated himself to the cause of the nation. This is the path that he has shown us, and this is the path which children of our country must take for us to reclaim our rightful position as leaders of the world.
Not only was Pandit Nehru a great confidant and friend of children, not only did he spend his time in the company of bright young minds, but he also set an excellent example for the parents and teachers of this country. Today is the era of technology, of busy lives, where the only complaint most of us have is of a lack of time, of a lack of personal contact. Nehruji demonstrated that all the barriers that we have built up are only in our minds. It was the summer of 1928. Nehruji was busy attending to the work of the Congress, and call for Purna Swaraj was a nascent spark. His 10-year-old daughter Indira was studying in Mussoorie, and these were not the days of mobile phones or video calls. Yet the great man that he was Pandit Nehru managed to shape the mind of his young daughter. He wrote to her what we now know as “Letters From A Father To His Daughter.” And what an excellent job he did, he gave us one of the most dynamic leaders we have had – Indira Gandhi.
Even during his four-year imprisonment term in Ahmednagar (between 1942 and 1946), he managed to pen down one of the finest accounts of Indian history – the Discovery of India. Unfortunately, many of us are yet to read this epic treatise. It is high time we do. These examples are enough to inspire parents and teachers. They show how a parent, a teacher, a thinker can shape young minds and lead them to greatness.
Far from cherishing the children who are our future and our nation’s building blocks, the children of our country are still fighting for basic education and healthcare. I do not find a better day to put forth some of the most alarming data that has come to light. India is one of the leading countries in the continent of Asia when it comes to employment of child labor. A whopping 33 million children are employed in various industries – about a fifth of the child labour employed worldwide. Many of these Indian children are employed in hazardous occupations such as matchbox making and precious stone cutting. We are consigning their future and our own to one of darkness by not standing up against child labour and not making primary education available to each child. If only each of us makes a concentrated effort towards ridding India of this evil, will our country succeed in becoming a truly free country, India that Nehruji and all our great leaders had envisioned?
I conclude by once again extending my warmest greetings and wishes on Children’s Day. Let us celebrate the Day with joy and fully appreciate the gift of childhood that has been bestowed upon us. Let us, however, also remember the great responsibility that is ours – to work towards a better society, a better India. Jai Hind.