Speaker Mr Krishna and Mr Michel Saint-lot UNICEF representative for the states of AP and Karnataka release the Book "Are ther children in Karnataka Assembly?" in the presence of Children from 12 districts of Karnataka.
By Vikas Verma
Bangalore March 22, 2007: “Let us learn that every child has rights…..” and “Children are our wealth….”- the two songs sung by children who had gathered at the Shaskara Bhavan, Vidhan Soudha , Bangalore were the perfect start to a day marked to felicitate 40 Child Friendly Legislators of the Karnataka Legislature and to put their demands in front of them.
The hall was occupied early in the day by 120 children representing 12 districts. The event was a culmination of the year long UNICEF supported field project taken up by NGO – CRT (Child Rights Trust) in conducting Children’s Parliament in 10 Districts and also analyzing all the questions asked by the legislators in the assembly.
Amidst the pressing schedule of an ongoing session, members of the legislative assembly took the time out to listen to the children. The programme kick started the moment Speaker of the legislative assembly Mr. Krishna walked in. Five children lead by Ms. Sangeetha - 12 years came up on stage and loudly rattled off their demands with great pride.
Mr. Vasudev Sharma, Director CRT, while tracing the genesis of the whole programme commented that after years of holding rallies, sit-ins and meetings as activist it was concluded that working with the legislators is the best way to protect children’s rights.
Once having committed to fulfill various children’s issues the Question Hour in assembly became the true mirror of governments as well as opposition’s promises. The analysis of the Question Hour did pleasantly surprise many as contrary to expectations almost 15% questions pertained to the children’s issues.
Few of these questions were also the result of Newsletters sent to legislators by CRT sharing with them the questions raised by children in their district level discussions.
Another off shoot of the initiative was Department of Panchayat Raj issuing a government order to conduct Child Rights Village Meetings for one day in a year to discuss about children and their issues.
While delivering the keynote address Mr. Michel Saint- Lot, UNICEF Representative for the States of AP and Karnataka began by thanking all people’s representatives for taking out time to meet with the children especially when the house is in session. Happy to see children put forth their demands forcefully and not feebly he congratulated them and urged the representatives to hear them loud and clear right now, unless they gather more force.
In his address he appealed to the legislators to ensure filing of FIR of missing children; draw district plan of action for children based on the State Plan of Action of Karnataka; to put Anti-Trafficking Action Plan into place; ensure that their constituencies are child labour free and all children are in schools.
Stressing on the need for looking at Child Budgeting and Birth Registration seriously he urged the legislators to continue to be the good ambassadors for the child rights in Karnataka. He concluded by seconding the children’s request to the honourable speaker to hold the next year’s award ceremony within the assembly premises itself.
Honourable Speaker Mr. Krishna then released the Report “Are there children in Vidhan Soudha?” and recognised each of the 40 Child Friendly Legislators with trophies. Closing Mr. Krishna acknowldged the need for addressing children’s issues. He said, “Children have told us about their issues from their heart and we can’t neglect them, we have to act upon them. This kind of recognition for the legislators by these children only shows the hopes they have from us, so let us not break their confidence”
The programme ended with the promise to meet again at the end of the year to recognize the 2007 Child Friendly Legislators in Karnataka.