New Delhi: Elated over winning the Nobel Peace prize, renowned child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi today dedicated the coveted award to people of India and vowed to work with renewed vigour against exploitation of children and to ensure their welfare.
In his first reaction, 60-year-old Satyarthi, who has been leading Bachpan Bachao Andolan in his relentless crusade for child rights, thanked the Nobel Committee for recognising the plight of millions of children and said the award will help bring global focus on the issue.
Satyarthi, who is an avid follower of Gandhian philosophy, however, said he would have been much more happy if the award had gone to the father of the nation.
"I am thankful to Nobel committee for recognising the plight of millions of children who are suffering in this modern age. It is a huge honour for me," Satyarthi, who became the second Indian to win the award after Mother Teresa, told PTI.
"I was born after the death of Mahatma Gandhi. If the prize had gone to Mahatma Gandhi before me I would have been more honoured. I am really honoured. This award is for all the citizens of the country," he said.
Girls education rights activist Malala Yousafzai and Satyarthi have been named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Resolving to continue his fight to protect child rights in India, Satyarthi, whose organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan, has been in the forefront of rescuing children from forced labour and trafficking, said he was happy that the issue has received global attention.
"This is not about simply poverty and rights of children. It is more than that. The fight has to continue. We are happy that the issue has been recognised globally now. I will continue my work," he said.
Satyarthi, whose organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan is credited with freeing over 80,000 child labourers across India, said he and his team will work with renewed vigour to ensure protection of child rights in India as well as globally.
"We are very humbly fighting for child rights and the award has put more responsibility on me to work towards welfare of children. This is a major issue in India as well as in many other countries," he said.
Satyarthi has been involved in various global campaign against exploitation of children which include Global March Against Child Labour, the International Center on Child Labor and Education and the Global Campaign for Education.
"It is a major challenge to protect the rights of the children," he said.
The Bachpan Bachao Andolan was established in the year 1983 by Satyarthi, who was an electrical engineer before becoming an activist.
The NGO has helped authorities in Delhi to conduct hundreds of raids to rescue child labourers.
After Lok Sabha election results were announced, Satyarthi had tweeted about Narendra Modi: "A tea-boy dares his detractors by becoming the PM of India. Now it's his turn to ensure that no child is forced to become a child labourer."
Satyarthi, the Nobel committee said, had maintained the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and headed various forms of peaceful protests.
Announcing the award, the Nobel Committee said Satyarthi has maintained Gandhi's tradition and headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, 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," it said.
BBA is a people's movement supported by more than 70,000 individuals and 750 civil society organisations. Its core activities are run through a coalition of three NGOs; the Association of Voluntary Action, the Bal Ashram Trust and the Save the Childhood Foundation.