Millions of children undergo the worst forms of violation, violence and exploitation, like child labour, child slavery, child trafficking, child prostitution, child soldiers, child suicide bombers etc. in today’s world. In this modern era of material and technological advancement, millions of children in almost every country, including India, are being callously abused, destroying their innocence, talents and potentials. This systematic deprivation of their right to dignified life, study, and growth results in the ensuing loss of their contribution for the betterment and progress of the society and the nation.
Over the past years, India has seen impressive economic growth as well as progress in terms of human development. The economy has experienced growth rates, and the population below the poverty line has been gradually falling. Nevertheless, crushing poverty, malnutrition, high infant mortality etc. are harsh realities for millions of women and children in India. Several problems such as issues of ‘social distance’ arising out of caste, class and gender differences deny children equal opportunities. Statistics such as 20 per cent of children aged 6 to14 are still not in school, an estimated 12.6 million children are engaged in hazardous occupations, India has the largest number of child labourers under the age of 14 in the world, India is home to over 30% of almost 385 million children living in extreme poverty etc. do not augur well for a country that aspires to be a super power and global leader.
Even in the midst of all such gloom and disheartenment, there are several silver lines in the horizon in the form of children who turn to be shining stars, prodigies, or wonder kids, bringing laurels and achievements for them and the country. Through their exceptional talents, skills and intelligence, they stand out among millions and make every one of us proud. When such little stars shine, their radiance illumines the hearts and minds of everyone, lifting up their spirit and hope, and bringing glory and pride to the country’s sullied image. Our country, though beset with all sorts of problems and failures, is abundantly blessed with very many child prodigies and children of exceptional qualities. Such little Indian stars shine not only in the horizon of our country, but in all parts of the world where Indians are settled. That makes Indian kids special and worthy of adulation all over the world.
‘Child prodigies’ are exceptionally talented and gifted. It must be a way the Great Creator tells mankind of His/Her special love for humankind because the exceptional gifts and talents of child prodigies are not exclusively meant for their self gratification, or that of their family, but for everyone anywhere in this world. Their abilities are most often in the rule-based fields of Mathematics, Music, Art, Chess etc. which are enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. There are no rigid parameters that we can apply to declare someone as a ‘prodigy’. However, a few traits in prodigies include, among others, an exceptional memory, elevated general intelligence, attention to detail, and altruism. According to some researchers, prodigies tend to be far more altruistic than the general population, earning them the sobriquet “benevolent souls.”
Though child prodigies are rare, there are many of them in India and elsewhere. While we feel proud of them, we, as a nation, need to be concerned about the millions of hapless children in our country who are out of school and forced to manage their lives all on their own. It is disheartening that even a powerful legislation like the Right To Education Act (RTE) doesn’t take these children to class rooms. If given opportunities, many of these children will come out successful and shine in every field, just like any other well-to-do children from the upper echelons of society. This is the responsibility of the government, the society and that of everyone concerned about the well being of our children and our country. Our children need protection as well as opportunities. It is the responsibility of everyone to work for providing a protective and caring environment to all our children.
When we make quality difference in the life of children, they will make solid difference in the destiny of our country.
Fr. Jacob Kani
(Editor-in-Chief Of Youth Action Magazine)