On 10-11 December 2016, a new page in the history of child rights is set to unfold. Two powerful constituencies — Nobel Laureates and world leaders — will unite in India for the well-being of children.

Why laureates and leaders for children? Because, while these luminaries are doyens in their respective fields, they also hold a moral authority in the world. I remember, after receiving my prize in Oslo, I was invited to address laureates of other disciplines. I spoke to them briefly about my 35 years of struggle and the cause we fight for.

I told them that there are 168 million child labourers in the world; that 5.5 million children are still bound in shackles of slavery. I told them how children have been sold for as little as a cigarette pack. I described to them the condition of children in mines, fields, brick kilns and carpet looms.

Most of my audience was taken aback, and you could hear the snuffles. They had never known that this is a reality that children face every day. A few said, “Is it happening today, Kailash?” “Didn’t slavery get abolished in the 19th century?” “Can we do something about this?” they asked me, expressing an earnest desire to do something for children. I could sense the compassion in their voices and started thinking of ways to give them a way to help.

That was the moment when the idea of channelising the less harnessed power of Nobel Laureates for the cause of the most deprived children came to my mind.

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