Who is Kailash Satyarthi?

The folks in Norway just announced the winners of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize — and I want to focus on the winner who’s not pictured on the front page of the New York Times (at least not on the digital edition that just came out):


I have blogged several times about Malala Yousafzai — the first time was nearly two years ago, shortly after she was shot by members of the Taliban because she was speaking out on her blog about how women in Pakistan deserve an education.  Malala seems quite deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize.  She’s incredibly courageous.

But I want to focus on the other winner.  And I am ashamed to admit that before a few minutes ago, I’d never heard of Kailash Satyarthi — a man who has dedicated his life to children’s rights in India.

Here are several pictures of Kailash Satyarthi:

kailash images

He works on behalf of the millions of children in India who are enslaved.  Here’s a blurb from a PBS piece about Kailash Satyarthi:

Kailash Satyarthi has saved tens of thousands of lives. At the age of 26 he gave up a promising career as an electrical engineer and dedicated his life to helping the millions of children in India who are forced into slavery by powerful and corrupt business- and land-owners. His original idea was daring and dangerous. He decided to mount raids on factories — factories frequently manned by armed guards — where children and often entire families were held captive as bonded workers.

When I read that he mounted raids on factories, I understood why the first group of pictures that came up on my Google Image Search included a bloody picture.  At first, I was reluctant to include the picture in the center below —

bloody Kailash

As I learn more about his work, I understand why he would be beaten by owners of businesses who were not happy that he exposed their child labor practices.  I think the bloody picture above came from a raid Kailash Satyarthi conducted in 2004 on a circus in India.

As I looked for videos about Kailash Satyarthi (whose name I’ve now learned to spell), I came across this powerful 4-minute video clip of a monologue written by Kailash Satyarthi and performed by actor Dylan Bruno.

The monologue tells the story about Satyarthi’s first day of school when he was 5 or 6 years old.  He wondered why he was going to school when, right outside his school, a young boy his age was working as a shoe cobbler.  Watch the clip:

I am glad that he won the Nobel Prize, and I look forward to learning more about him over the weekend.  Click here to watch a 20-minute PBS video about Kailash Satyarthi.


About Steve Goldberg

I teach students at Research Triangle High School (RTHS) about US History. RTHS is a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning. The blog posts here reflect my own personal views and not those of my employer.
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