Saturday, October 11, 2014

Opinion: New role models in the neighborhood

Nobel peace prize has given a common platform for both Indians and Pakistanis to be proud of. Two individuals who risked their lives for the rights of children are honored with this award. Indeed this is a noble deed. Noble hearts are awarded with Nobel Prize. At the right time, it puts emphasis on why the neighbors should stop the war at the borders and the war of words over media and change their focus to internal problems.

Left: Kailash Satyarthi braved bullets to save kids; Right: Malala was shot in the head and suffers permanent injuries
If a considerable chunk of children miss going to school and end up as child labors, what kind of skills do they acquire and how do you expect them to earn a good income when they grow up to be adults? While India is advancing, many are left behind, so the average income of an Indian is low compared to its neighbors in the Asian continent like Singapore or Taiwan. No wonder why ‘Services’ is the biggest component of GDP growth in India unlike in China or South Korea where manufacturing takes the lead. Countries with higher average incomes have skilled people at work who command higher wages. These skills take years of training to acquire. The ecosystem has to encourage the promotion of skilled labor force. Putting a stop to exploiting the children is the first hurdle to overcome.

Malala said “This award is for all the voiceless children”. Political leaders of Pakistan may ignore but the children of Pakistan are sure to take a note of this. It is the children and the young who will be the next generation will decide what is good for them in the decades to come. They may not have the right to education now but no one can steal their right to choose a role model. Malala is an inspiration to many already and she has certainly kicked off the change which Pakistan needs to embrace and only that storm has to get bigger.

If Nobel Prize is a barometer, look at the below list and see how India and Pakistan fare. US top the list in all categories except Literature. UK and Germany follow, thanks to the institutions they built and their citizen’s commitment to the development of science. Three of the awards India has won were during pre-independence, starting with Tagore for literature. So the independent India has won a Nobel Prize once in fifteen years on an average. Should we be content with this?

List complied from Wikipedia data
It is high time India and Pakistan moved beyond their addiction to religion, cricket and movies. And it is time we improved our scorecard at Olympics too. For this, we need to do our bit by not employing child labor on any occasion, help them to get to school and encourage them to take up science and sports.