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Children's Day: Celebrating Children and their Rights

Children’s Day is observed on 14 November in India. This year, it coincides with the festival of Diwali. It is a national holiday celebrated to raise awareness about the rights, care and education of children. Internationally, it is celebrated on 20 November, but in India it’s on the 14th to mark the birth anniversary of the country’s first prime minister after independence from the colonial rule, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He was passionate about and advocated for children and their right to education, affectionately known as Chacha Nehru. This day is also known as Bal Diwas in Hindi.

Prior to the death of Chacha Nehru, India, like all other countries, celebrated Children’s Day on 20 November, as decided upon by the UN. However, after his demise, since he was so popular among children, the Indian Parliament decided that his birthday would be a national holiday, celebrated as Children’s Day, a fitting goodbye to him.

Children’s Day is celebrated by schools having fun-filled events and activities for their students, such as dressing up, playing games, having dance and music programmes, and distributing sweets. Everyone sends each other messages about the significance of this day, and overall, it is enjoyable yet educational for a lot of us as we celebrate Chacha Nehru and raise awareness about children’s rights. According to Nehru, children are the foundation of the future and the strength of the country, since, one day, they will grow up to run it, and decide its fate.

While children are considered as those that are of a younger biological age, there is an aspect of childhood embedded in all of us, no matter how much we grow. It is important for us to embrace the child within us, to help us escape the stress and hectic schedule we are entangled in. It is also important for children to be made aware of their rights, so that their innocence isn’t taken for granted, and they know how to act when they have to face a challenging situation.

Several children in India don’t have access to education and are exploited by being made to work in dangerous places such as fire-cracker factories, not being paid, and violated. We need to raise awareness regarding this, and talk more about how children are deprived of their right to education, because if they are not given the opportunity, they would never be able to climb up the social ladder and build a better life for their families and themselves.

Another aspect that needs more attention is mental health awareness in children. Childhood trauma, or undetected mental health issues in children can result in them growing up to be robbed of opportunities that they would have, only if they were aware of their own emotional wellbeing and were able to get help for themselves. If untreated, it impacts not only their future, but the lives of people dependent on them. This is a long term issue, which needs to be discussed about more, so that children in even the most remote areas of the country are able to grow to be emotionally well and stable.

Children’s Day may only be marked as 14 November, but the fight must continue everyday.

Photo by Charu Chaturvedi on Unsplash