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30 Sept, New Delhi: Bal Raksha Bharat, the first global movement for children, celebrated its 100th anniversary in the presence of Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Hon’ble Minister of Women & Child Development and  Textiles, at ‘The Right Start’ Summit held in New Delhi today. The national summit is a culmination of a month-long effort that engaged children from across states to create a strong discourse on having a right start in their early years through better nutrition and early education. The event saw political leaders, civil society organisations, and community members in a congregation, as children shared, with the Hon’ble Minister, their powerful stories of leading change.

The event was also marked by a panel discussion on building ‘Partnerships for TheRightStart for every last child’ and saw some thoughtful discussions between Sh. Priyank Kanoongo Chairperson, NCPCR, Yasmin Haque, India Representative, UNICEF, Sakina Baker, CSR Head Phillips India, Prof. Zubair Meenai, Chairperson CECDR, Jamia Millia Islamia and Sumitra Mishra, Convenor, Alliance to Right for Early Childhood  Development.

In her inaugural address, the Hon’ble Minister stated, “I congratulate Bal Raksha Bharat, their partners, and children, who are engaged in outstanding work at the grassroots. Bal Raksha Bharat has supported children access their rights every day, consistently for 100 years and that is remarkable. It is a well-established fact that the early years are extremely crucial for a child’s development and have a huge impact on their future. As our prime minister has highlighted, only if children are healthy and educated they can achieve their full potential, thus contributing to nation-building. Our Government has implemented several schemes and programmes for children to provide robust health, nutrition, education, and protection services. I am happy to note that Bal Raksha Bharat has initiated a nationwide campaign for children, demanding The Right Start.”

Bidisha Pillai, CEO, Bal Raksha Bharat, said, “It gives us immense pleasure to have Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Woman &Child Development and Textiles amidst us as Bal Raksha Bharat celebrates its centenary, globally. A child’s right to nutrition, education, and protection are non-negotiables, and we look forward to a combined commitment and collaboration to give #TheRightStart to every child. It is through partnerships that have made everything we have accomplished over the past 100 years possible, and I sincerely hope that organisations like us do not need to exist another 100 years to bring these changes for children.”

Ms. Pillai also announced Bal Raksha Bharat’s centenary commitment to end childhood pneumonia, a leading cause of under-five mortality in India.  The campaign is being rolled out in ten districts across five states of Bihar, Delhi, Jharkhand, Orissa, and Rajasthan over the next three years (2019-21) and aims to impact over a million children from across these states. Recently, as part of giving children ‘The Right Start’, Bal Raksha Bharat and NITI Aayog signed a Statement of Intent (SOI), with a joint focus to improve indicators in education, health & nutrition with particular focus on Early Childhood Care under ‘The Aspirational Districts Program’.

The senior leadership shared Bal Raksha Bharat’s legacy through the launch of a centenary book and felicitated Child Champions, individuals from media and their institutional partners who have worked relentlessly on child rights issues.

About Bal Raksha Bharat
Bal Raksha Bharat runs programmes to address children’s needs in 11 Indian states and Union Territories. Globally known as Save the Children, the organisation works in 116 countries, on issues related to education, health, protection and humanitarian/DRR needs of children, especially for those who are the most deprived and marginalized. Bal Raksha Bharat’s association with India is more than 80 years old. Visit www.savethechildren.in for more information.

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