NEW DELHI - Coinciding with the ‘International day of innocent Children’ the Church of North India (CNI) hosted a two-day National consultation and strategic planning for 'Children at Risk' at CNI Bhavan, New Delhi, June 4-5 2004.
The meeting aimed at reaching a solution to various problems faced by Children who are at risk. A good number of prominent NGO workers from within and outside the Church joined the function.
Delivering a keynote speech, Rev. Enos Das Pradhan, the General Secretary of CNI said, “Each day countless children of our country are exposed to dangers that hamper their growth and development. They suffer immensely as casualties of war and violence; as victims of communalism, racial or caste discrimination and aggression. The CNI is concerned that a number of children being deprived of their right to grow in a healthy, safe and supportive family and community environment. As such, the Church has been engaging in finding solutions to their problems at large.”
Ms. Subha Rajan, Director of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), who inaugurated the programme along with Ms Gillian Palmer, the Executive Secretary of Council for World Mission (CWM) spoke about the importance of experiencing the real situation that will change the mindset of the mass, citing her private involvement with the cause as an example. She also expressed her opinion on the way NGOs are named today. “If NGO is attached with Christian name, people do not want to be involved. They are afraid that we are trying to convert them. Can’t we just name any other way, not putting Christians related names?” she suggested.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Amod Kanth, General Secretary of Prayas and Joint Commissioner of Police, New Delhi, said that in India 70 million to 100 million children in the age group of 6 – 14, who comes under Indian government’s right to education do not go to school and these age group are one of the foremost children who are likely to be at risk. He said that for this age group, education cannot be rights, but rather ‘needs’.
Raising his concern for the children, those who are treated unlawfully in any situation, if their cases are brought to the court, they seem to face more problems. “And in many places, in the name of protection, children are rather jailed,” he added, referring to some NGO run orphanage.
“We cannot depend on government to do the needful to protect and raise 70 to 100 million children. Voluntary organizations, therefore, have a very important role to play here.” Mr. Kanth said, citing solutions for those children, who could be at risk.
However, Mr. Kanth said that NGOs in India faced tremendous problems due to the stoppage of grants and getting of funds from abroad that was one of the backbones in running the NGOs in terms of donation and sponsors.
He also said that Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Corporate world have not understood about the role played by NGOs in society. They have not contributed enough to the cause. So, far their involvement is very much minimal. Therefore, we should try to involve them more, he concluded.
When an informal discussion hour was opened, Mr. Rig David of Cathedral Relief Service, Kolkata opined that ‘Children at Risk’ should be made as one of the Brands in social life. Taking an example of the Awareness level of Aids, he said that today, everyone has concerns for Aids because of its brand being created by the people involved in it. “President Kalam’s affections towards children may be the need which will be useful for sensitizing the brand in India,” he said.
Noted personalities, who are involved in protecting and promoting Child Rights like Ms. Richa Macsudeon of UNIFEM, Dr. Poonam Smith Sreen of USAID, Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, General Secretary of SACCS, Mr. Susant Agarwal, Director of CASA, Mr. Sanjay Patra, Director of EFICOR and Mr. Sudipta Singh, Director of Programs, CNI and several other prominent NGO leaders were present.