August 2nd, 2015
10:53 AM ET

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi: "168M children are full-time child laborers..."

The following transcript is of an interview by host Fareed Zakaria with Nobel laureate and Indian Children’s Rights activist, Kailash Satyarthi. They discussed the origins of his child rights activism, if governments are helping to reduce the number of child slaves, why he chose the Lincoln Memorial for his Rally for Children’s Rights event, and why he sees helpful power in being angry.

MANDATORY CREDIT for reference and usage: “CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS”

VIDEO HIGHLIGHT

A Nobel Prize winner on child labor

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Satyarthi on how he began his quest of a children’s rights activist: “…it started from my childhood.  …I was five or a five-and-a-half-year-old child.  And I saw a cobbler boy outside the school gate.  And that made me a little bit uncomfortable. Then every morning and evening after schooling hours, when I would go back home, I saw him.  And that made me more angry inside.  …He said, I never thought about it and I started working since my childhood and so has my father and grandfather and now my son. Then he looked at me and said that babu jee - means sir - we people are born to work. On his part, it was an answer, but for me, it was a question and challenge for the rest of my life, that why some children are born to work at the cost of their childhood and freedom and education and dreams? It was unacceptable for me.  I refused to accept then and I'm still struggling with that, that a child must be born to work at the cost of childhood and freedom.”

Satyarthi on how widespread the issue of servitude, slavery, and child slavery is: “One hundred and sixty eight million children are full-time child laborers.  One hundred and sixty-eight million.  Out of them, 85 million are working in what they call the worst forms of child labor. And the official statistics, uh, suggest that five and a half million children are in virtual slavery.”

Satyarthi on if the government is helping the number of child slavery decrease: “I think it's much better.  The things are changed — in India, as well as all over the world. The number of child laborers, as I'm saying now, 168 million.  But that is a remarkable progress in last 20 years from 260 million almost – to this number.  Similarly, the out of school children were about 130 million.  Now - the number has gone down and it is 58 million or so. So that brings a strong hope for me.”

Satyarthi on why he chose the Lincoln Memorial for the Rally for Children’s Rights: “We had chosen the Lincoln Memorial because this is the continuity of those things, because we are all making a history.  And I am very confident that we will make slavery history very soon.  We will make child labor history very soon. And those who are joining in this campaign, those who were present there, they were not only witness to the making of history, but they are partners, they are change makers, they are the people who are writing the script of this history, of victory, of liberty over slavery.”

Satyarthi’s explanation of his comments on the importance of anger: “Because anger is a power.  It is a power to fight injustices. I did not want to use my anger for destruction, for violence or some other negative things, but I tried – to preserve it as a positive power, because that – gives me energy to fight injustices around me – and I try to convert my anger into ideas and ideas into action, and action which can make the world a better world.”

FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

It’s a rare honor to have a Nobel Peace Prize winner as a guest...indeed, the most recent winner. You're thinking Malala Yousufzai - that brave Pakistani girl who stood up to the Taliban - and won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. But perhaps you are less aware of her co-winner, Kailash Satyarthi, who has dedicated his life to fighting child labor and child slavery.

You SHOULD know this man...for the great work he's doing...and you WILL know this man after you hear his amazing story, including what inspired him to do such good.

FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS HOST:  Kailash Satyarthi, a pleasure to have you on.

KAILASH SATYARTHI, INDIAN CHILDREN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST:  Thank you so much.

ZAKARIA:  So how did you get started on this quest, because you were - you're a trained engineer.  You had a good job in India.  This is the thing everybody aspires to.  And then you give it all up.

SATYARTHI:  Well, um, frankly speaking, it started from my childhood.  The seed was sown on the very first day of my schooling.  I was five or a five-and-a-half-year-old child.  And I saw a cobbler boy outside the school gate.  And that made me a little bit uncomfortable. Then every morning and evening after schooling hours, when I would go back home, I saw him.  And that made me more angry inside.  And one day I gathered all of my courage and went straight to the father of the boy, who was also sitting alongside, a cobbler, and I asked that, sir, why don't you send your son to school with all of us?

And he looked at me as it was a very heavy question.  He said, I never thought about it and I started working since my childhood and so has my father and grandfather and now my son. Then he looked at me and said that babu jee - means sir - we people are born to work. On his part, it was an answer, but for me, it was a question and challenge for the rest of my life, that why some children are born to work at the cost of their childhood and freedom and education and dreams? It was unacceptable for me.  I refused to accept it then and I'm still struggling with that, that a child must be born to work at the cost of childhood and freedom. So...

ZAKARIA:  But then you were - when you were an engineer, you had an – had another encounter.

SATYARTHI:  Then I started a magazine, uh, in Hindi. One day, a desperate father came and knocked on my door to publicize his - his story.  When I heard him, I found that he and his wife and many more people were lured away or trafficked from his native village to work at a brick kiln 17 years ago.  His name was Vasal Kahn.

ZAKARIA:  So he'd been working essentially in slave labor...

(CROSSTALK)

SATYARTHI:  In slave - in slavery - in slavery for 17 years. He was not allowed to go away, never paid anything.  And there was a fence inside which all the family used to live.  Children were born and grew up there, but they had never seen the outside world.  And his daughter, Sabo, who was born and grew up in slavery, was about to be sold to a brothel, but somehow, the price could not be negotiated. But when I was listening to him, I realized that if she was my daughter or my sister, what would I do? Not write a story, I could not sit for one second.  And finally, uh, we were able to rescue not only Sabo, the 15-year-old daughter of Vasal, but also 36 people altogether.

ZAKARIA:  How widespread is this problem of - of indentured servitude, slavery, and child slavery, which has been your particular focus.

SATYARTHI:  One hundred and sixty eight million children are full-time child laborers.  One hundred and sixty-eight million.  Out of them, 85 million are working in what they call the worst forms of child labor. And the official statistics, uh, suggest that five and a half million children are in virtual slavery.

ZAKARIA:  Are governments doing enough now?

SATYARTHI:  I think it's much better.  The things are changed…uh, in India, as well as all over the world. The number of child laborers, as I'm saying now, 168 million.  But that is a remarkable progress in last 20 years from 260 million almost to - to this number.  Similarly, the out of school children were about 130 million.  Now they have, uh, gone - the number has gone down and it is 58 million or so. So that brings a strong hope for me.

ZAKARIA:  You, in your Ted talk, uh, you - you talked about how it was very important for people to be angry, that you liked anger.  Explain why.

SATYARTHI:  Because anger is a power.  It is a power to fight injustices. I did not want to use my anger for destruction, for violence or some other negative things, but I tried to - to preserve it as a positive power, because that gives - gives me energy to fight injustices around me - and I try to convert my anger into ideas and ideas into action, and action which can make the world a better world.

ZAKARIA:  So you're using your Nobel Peace Prize, um, the money and - and the - and the fame to create a foundation.  You announced it in the United States. You had the ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial.  Why the Lincoln Memorial?

SATYARTHI:  We had chosen the Lincoln Memorial because this is the continuity of those things, because we are all making a history.  And I am very confident that we will make slavery history very soon.  We will make child labor history very soon. And those who are joining in this campaign, those who were present there, they were not only witness to the making of history, but they are partners, they are change makers, they are the people who are writing the script of this history, of victory, of liberty over slavery.

ZAKARIA:  Kailash Satyarthi, a pleasure to have you on.

SATYARTHI:  Thank you so much.

END INTERVIEW

 


Topics: CNN • Fareed Zakaria • Fareed Zakaria GPS
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