The Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu today called for steps to empower and equip children to make them change agents and the transformational leaders of the future. He said that it was the duty of governments, educational institutions, civil society and parents to build a safe, secure, just and fair world for our future generation.Addressing the ‘National Summit for Every Child in India’ organized by UNICEF in Parliament, Shri Naidu urged all Parliamentarians to take a solemn resolve as lawmakers and citizens to continue their crusade to evolve and implement meaningful child-centred policies and programmes and ensure that every single child in this country was given a safe and fulfilling childhood. He wanted them to keep the welfare of the children of their constituencies as a guiding principle for any project that they undertake.Pointing out that education was the key to ensure a bright future for children, the Vice President called for a special focus on providing quality education to all, especially those living in remote areas. “We must have “quality education”. We must have “affordable, relevant education”. We must have “education that empowers” children with the competencies of the 21st century,” he added.Stating that learning language and understanding the history, and culture of a nation must become part of the education system, he called for a special focus on the language of the home. Shri Naidu said that there was an urgent need to enable children to learn as many languages as possible without neglecting or ignoring the mother language or the language they wish to learn.
Referring to Article 30 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Shri Naidu said that, it gives children the right to “learn and use the language and customs of their families, whether these are shared by the majority of people in the country or not.”Opining that protecting, respecting and fulfilling children’s rights were vital to ensure a happy childhood, the Vice President stressed that educating families and empowering the general community, especially children themselves about their rights was extremely important.Describing Good health of children as an absolute precondition to a fulfilling life, the Vice President said that adequate attention must be paid to nutrition. He called for enhancing and expanding nutrition drives run by the government such as the POSHAN Abhiyan to increasing its coverage and frequency.Expressing concern over incidences of exploitation, cruelty, abuse, crime, trafficking, and discrimination faced by children around the world, the Vice President stressed the needed to address these formidable threats that endanger our children, on a war footing. “We must begin by ensuring education to every single child. No child is to be left behind.”Observing that the Convention on the Rights of the Child was the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, Shri Naidu opined that it recognizes the fundamental human dignity of all children and the urgency of ensuring their well-being and development.On the occasion, the Vice President said that both houses of the Parliament played a critical role in protecting and promoting the rights of children by holding the executive branch to account by scrutinizing its work, by allocating resources for children and by ensuring that not only child-related policies but all policies have the welfare of children as its cornerstone.The Union Minister for Law & Justice, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, The Minister of State for HRD, Communication, Electronics & IT, Shri Dhotre Sanjay Shamrao, Smt. Vandana Chavan, Member of Parliament (RS) and the Convener, Parliamentarians’ Group for Children, Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, of UNICEF India were among the dignitaries who graced the occasion.