Daily Archives: June 2, 2018

Making Sense Of The World Today – Books Your Children Must Read

A child is never too young to start learning about the harsh realities of the world, and act on his/her inherent sense of justice. But how does one teach a child complicated concepts like activism, revolution, empowerment, poverty, inequality, tolerance, inclusiveness and dissent? These amazing books from India and world over simplify these seemingly complex constructs and draw in young readers. Based on real stories, and the uncomfortable truths we prefer to shield our children from, these books tell us why it is important to help our children understand these concepts, and what it means to stand up for things that matter. Most of all, to help our children make sense of the world, and understand what things really matter.

1. Your Turn Now, Lubaina Bandukwala

Based on a movement started by Rushabh Turakhia to remind adults and children to be kind, this book captures the stories of children and adults who have experienced random acts of kindness in their lives, and how it has changed them.

2. We, The Children of India, Leila Seth

Justice Leila Seth through this book, makes the Constitution understandable even to the youngest reader. Heavy words like Democracy, Republic, Secular, Sovereignty are easily explained, and the young reader is made to understand what the significance is of these words, and why they should be interested in the Constitution of their country.

3. Why Are You Afraid to Hold My Hand? Sheila Dhir

This book tackles the various stereotypes and misconceptions that people have regarding children coping with disabilities. Written in verse, and beautifully illustrated, it gives a voice to all those attitudes and reactions towards disability that are mostly wilfully ignored.

4. A is for Activist, Innosanto Nagara

Beautifully illustrated, this book sets new milestones for how we aspire to teach children the alphabet. This book introduces concepts of activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights amongst other socially relevant causes and concerns in a bold yet simple manner.

5. A Sweet Smell of Roses, Angela Johnson, pictures by Eric Velazquez

What did the youth involvement look like during the Civil Rights movement? A Sweet Smell of Roses tells the story of two young sisters who sneak out of their homes to participate in a peaceful march with Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. Simple, yet powerful, the story explores a child’s perspective of what it is like to be in a country where a revolution is brewing.

6. Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, Arun Gandhi & Bethany Hegedus, pictures by Evan Turk

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This can be easier said than done, just like all the good habits we want to imbibe our children with. This splendidly illustrated book captures the personal story of Arun Gandhi’s (Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson) journey of discovering the damage of wastefulness as a child, and the principles of cause and effect.

7. The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage, Selina Alko

While this book is based on America before 1967, it is still as relevant a read in contemporary society today, and even more so in India. This is the story of a family of five – Mildred Loving, Richard Perry and their three children. Loving and Perry were arrested for getting married to each other despite belonging to different races. They refused to admit that they had broken in law, or that their togetherness was illegal. They fought this case and won it, which led to the scrapping of the arbitrary law against interracial marriage.


8. I Dissent: Ruth Badder Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, Debbie Levy, Pictures by Elizabeth Baddeley

“Disagreeing does not make you disagreeable”. Explaining this to children can often be difficult. And this beautiful picture book does exactly that in a nuanced way. Based on the life of US Justice Ruth Badder Ginsburg, the book describes the value of standing up against inequality and fighting for people’s rights.

9. One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, Miranda Paul, Elizabeth Zunon

Remember the three ‘R’s? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? This is a beautiful story about how small actions can make the biggest differences for preserving the earth. Based on a true story, this book shows us how even a single person can be an agent of change, and how she found a way to recycle hundreds of plastic bags and make her community a safer, greener less toxic place.

10. Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey, Margriet Ruurs, pictures by Nizar Ali Badr, translated by Falah Raheem

This picture book inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, is a story about the Syrian refugee crisis for children. The book narrates the story of a family forced to flee their homeland to escape the war, with just the belongings they can carry on their backs. A sensitive and poignant narration of the complexities of displacement that is at the heart of the refugee crisis.

On Child Trafficking In NorthEast India And The New Bill – In Conversation with Hasina Kharbhih

Human trafficking is the third largest organized crime violating basic human rights, with no specific comprehensive law to deal with it. On February 28 this year, the Union cabinet approved the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018. This bill proposes allocating courts in every district for fast trials, creating a rehabilitation fund for survivors and protecting those who have been rescued from traffickers, amongst other things.

Trafficking is rampant around the world and the state of the northeastern states of India is akin to the rest of the world. The region’s proximity to countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China, makes for an easy passage for organized human trafficking to continue unabatedly as a lot of youth and children migrate to and from due to poverty and lack of employment opportunities.

Shillong based social entrepreneur Hasina Kharbhih, a potent voice on human rights and trafficking, and also a well-known face both nationally and globally, has contributed many years on issues of anti-human trafficking, child rights, substance abuse and health care among women and children in the Northeastern states of India. The founder of Impulse NGO Network, a key player in preventing human trafficking in the region, stands as an exemplary model of change, bringing together different actors to combat cross-border trafficking of children.

At a time when the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 is under media and public scrutiny, Sanskrita Bharadwaj on behalf of Leher, speaks with her to understand the real impact this bill would have in thwarting child trafficking.

Excerpts from the interview:

1. Could you tell us about the Impulse Model?

The fight against human trafficking can’t be achieved single-handedly which is why we collaborate with the government, law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, civil society organizations and the media. All this comes under the Impulse Model. This is to build a strong anti-human trafficking network.

Our work stands on two pillars: First is Impulse NGO Network which was conceptualized in the year 1987 and has since then played a significant role against human trafficking; the second is Impulse Social Enterprises which aims to promote local artisans and create sustainable livelihood through its brand Impulse Empower, that helps prevent unsafe migration which often leads to human trafficking.

2. Illustrate how successful your work has been on the issue of human trafficking in the area?

I would like to talk about the issue of rat hole mining in the state of Meghalaya. This kind of mining is an age-old method where pits ranging from 5-100 square meters are dug into the ground to reach a coal layer. These tunnels are so small and narrow that only the size of a child can squeeze through. These child miners spend hours crouched inside the dark pits, struggling to breathe in the sulphur-rich air while collecting coal. This type of labour poses a threat to human life and to the local environment.

For the past twenty years, Impulse NGO Network has been addressing the issue of human trafficking and nine years on child labour in the rat-hole coal mines of the Jaintia Hills district. We have conducted several studies to investigate and report on forced labour in the mines of Meghalaya. Based on these researches, it has been estimated that approximately 70,000 children were employed in the rat-hole mines. Most of these children hail from the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Nepal. Impulse NGO Network has helped rescue about 1,200 children from these mines.

However, in due course it that was observed that the rescued children were soon replaced with new recruits. Due to government apathy and protracted reluctance to address the issue, INGON was compelled to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the National Green Tribunal. Subsequently, the National Green Tribunal passed a directive on April 17, 2014, banning rat-hole-mining in the state of Meghalaya.

3. The Cabinet recently approved the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018. What are your views on the same?

Every bill that comes in place requires action on the ground and they also need a directive to make the bill a reality. I met Ms Maneka Gandhi recently and we submitted our initiatives. I proposed the Impulse Model’s The Impulse Case Info Centre Software which I believe will go a long way for healthy dialogue and especially repatriation of trafficked victims cross border and within the country about the protection on human rights in South East Asia. It’s a one window platform to ensure the implementation of the bill is done in a more progressive manner with a tested methodology.

4. Who are the different stakeholders in a community that help build a robust child protection network? How do these work in tandem to ensure children are protected?

If you’re talking about a robust mechanism on the ground, the most important institutions who are engaged in child protection starts with both the private and the public. The law enforcement is the first entry point when it comes to crime being reported, and then comes the social welfare department that looks at all the prevention measures to ensure that the crime is being registered and is being looked at. Then the institutions which work with awareness initiatives in schools must ensure that child protection is being provided as per the law. Above all we need parents to be more sensitive. Institutions also need to make sure that the parents are roped into initiatives.

5. What do you believe are the root causes for trafficking in Northeast India?

Human Trafficking happens globally, there are no boundaries or nationalities when it comes to it. It’s a global phenomenon, not only happening with children in Northeast India.

6. What are the challenges that you’ve faced?

We don’t just work in Meghalaya but we work in all the eight northeastern states including North Bengal and three other countries—Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh. There isn’t enough reporting on issues here, which is why we came up with the Impulse Model Press Lab. I think the media plays a powerful role in spreading awareness about human rights issues. In some cases, they play an important role in spotting missing people through investigative reporting which demands prompt action from the authorities. By bringing issues to the fore—journalists can expose problems of women and child trafficking

7. How does irresponsible reporting affect survivors?

Bad practices of reporting on human trafficking can be damaging to survivors. Sensationalist reporting, insensitive commentary, falsely depict individual stories…It could intensify trauma.

8. Which countries do you think have been successful in combating trafficking for children? How and why?

There are “good practices” being implemented in different countries but scalability of these “good practices” can only be ensured if there is convergence of stakeholders that hasn’t happened globally. Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) in the UK is a very good initiative. It has been internalized in terms of the government adapting the whole procedure. Collaborations need to happen, one can’t work in isolation.