India’s Kailash Satyarthi received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 on Wednesday, sharing it with Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever Nobel laureate, for their work on promoting child rights in the troubled sub-continent, where millions are deprived of their childhood and education. “Satyarthi and Yousafzai are precisely the people whom Alfred Nobel in his will calls ‘champions of peace’,” Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjorn Jagland said in his speech before awarding them the prize. “A young girl and a somewhat older man, one from Pakistan and one from India, one Muslim, the other Hindu; both symbols of what the world needs: more unity. Fraternity between the nations,” he added.
Satyarthi, who gave up his job as an electrical engineer to run an NGO for rescuing children from forced labour and trafficking, and 17-year-old Malala, who survived a near-fatal Taliban attack two years ago with determination advocating education for girls, were named by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for the prestigious award on October 10. They received the Nobel medal which is 18 carat green gold plated with 24 carat gold and weighs around 175 grams. They will share USD 1.1 million prize money.
Speaking after receiving the award, Kailash Satyarthi asked audience to feel the child inside them and said the crime against children has no place in a civilised society. “Children are questioning our inaction and watching our action,” he said, adding that all religion teach to take care of children. Noting that the number of child labour has been reduced by a third, Satyarthi said, “My dream is to make every child free to develop…There is no greater violence than to deny the dreams of children.” Recounting his experience with the unprivileged people, he said, “I am representing the sound of silence of millions of children who are left behind.” “The credit to this honour goes to people who worked and sacrificed for freeing children,” he said.
In her speech, Malala Yousafzai said, “I am honoured to receive this award together with Kailash Satyarthi, who has been a champion of children’s rights for a long time. Twice as long, in fact, than I have been alive. I am also glad that we can stand together and show the world that an Indian and a Pakistani can be united in peace and together work for children’s rights.”
“This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change,” she said in her acceptance speech.