NEW DELHI—Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology was based on non-violence and truthfulness. One of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Indian-born Kailash Satyarthi, feels it’s time for a mass movement inspired by compassion, similar to Gandhi’s mass movement based on truthfulness and tolerance.
“People used to think truth is something to be professed at temples [and] mosques. But Gandhi converted it into Jan Andolan [public movement]. My appeal is: compassion [should] also be converted into Jan Andolan,” Satyarthi said at the India Constitution Club after his return from Sweden.
Satyarthi and 17-year old Malala Yousasfzai from Pakistan were both winners of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize—she for her work on the rights of girls in Pakistan to receive education and Satyarthi for his work to free children from bonded labor in India.
Satyarthi’s organization, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, meaning “Movement to Save Childhood” was started by him 1980 and has saved approximately 80,500 children from bonded labor. He has also worked on a policy level and organized protests and conventions to bring attention to the issue of child labor and servitude.
According to the Walk Free Foundation’s global slavery index for 2014, India has more than 14.3 million enslaved people, the largest of any country in the world, and has some of the highest per capita rates of child labor, according to an index by Maplecroft, a risk assessment company.
Satyarthi told Epoch Times that compassion is needed “to ensure sustainability and peace” in the world, and that comes from a connection with ones self.
“A connection of everyone with her or his inside is what makes you a global citizen and helps you find solutions to persisting problems,” he said over the phone.
Especially in countries where corruption and mismanagement are common, “compassion could be a very strong element to be honest,” he said.
He practices compassion by connecting transparently, and honestly with others, he said, and maintaining his “child inside.” He also says that compassion for him is about action, and translates into his work for justice, equality, and peace.
“Let’s globalize compassion,” he said at the Constitution Club press conference. “Take it out—use it to protect children, to protect the environment.”
Safer World for Children
Having worked all his life to end child labor and promote children’s education, Satyarthi now wants to work toward making the world a safer place for children.
“Schools, homes, neighborhoods should be safe for children,” he said. “I want to take up [fighting] against all forms of violence against children.”