Top Bollywood stars turned out in force to help celebrate Children’s Day, which in India is always on November 14th, the birthdate of Jawaharlal Nehru. Ranbir Kapoor visited Hinduja hospital, sang songs, read stories and talked to the kids. “It’s my pleasure to be here,” he said, “They actually called my mother as I was travelling. When I heard about it, I didn’t want to miss it.”
Meanwhile, Sayali Bhagat, Boman Irani and Amrita Rao joined children in a Jet Airlines Flight Simulator Saturday event. Ninety children spent an hour with the stars in the simulator enjoying a flight over Mumbai and the surrounding areas.
On the twentieth anniversary of the UN’s Child Rights Convention, twenty per cent of the world’s children live in India. They are faced with a number of problems. In a society still beset by great inequality, there is often pressure on children as young as ten to abandon school and begin work to support their families; child marriages – though illegal – are still common in some districts and can reduce life opportunities for young girls as well as resulting in trans-generational poverty; basic neo-natal care is a big issue with 400,000 children in India dying within 24 hours of birth each year – and lack of access to education beyond elementary grade is still the norm for half of India’s children.
However, the percentage of children living in extreme poverty in India has halved from 50% to 25% in the last twenty years and with India’s continued rapid economic growth there is a good deal of optimism for the future.