“Only when the children participate in policy planning will our future be bright”: Rao Inderjit Singh, Minister of State for Planning (I/C), Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India
CII jointly with Benard van Leer Foundation of the Netherlands organised the 2nd edition of an International Conference on Child Friendly Cities, called Cities4Kids at New Delhi on 2 February 2017. This two day Conference is being attended by delegates from across the globe.
“The government is open to ideas from within the country and outside, from adults and children”. With this commitment, Shri Rao Inderjit Singh, Hon’ble Minister of State for Planning (I/C), Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India, asserted that the government and society need to invest in children’s well-being in the coming years so that the country could reap the demographic dividend. Speaking at the ‘International Conference on Child-Friendly Cities’, Shri Singh said that the conference on child-friendly cities is being organised at an appropriate time as with 15.8 million children, India is the youngest democracy but unfortunately has 8 million children living in poverty. Therefore, the government, family and community need to plan reasonable support for these children. Further, the minister shared that their government is working towards providing a better living spaces for children of this generation so that they have an improved life than what the previous generations had.
In the same session, Baroness Julia Neuberger, Member House of Lords, United Kingdom, lauded the efforts of Humara Bachpan Campaign which within three months of signing a MoU with local authorities of Varanasi created 57 new child clubs and 427 new child leaders. Moreover, the organisation along with the National Institute of Urban Affairs provided enduring support to Bhubaneswar Development Authority in making the city, the best performing child-friendly city. Addressing all child participants in the conference as ‘quite extraordinary’, the Baroness appealed to Indian government, academicians, business leaders, civil society, and non-government organisations to keep children at the centre of city planning initiatives.
Mr Shreekant Somany, Immediate Past Chairman CII Northern Region; and; Chairman and Managing Director, Somany Ceramics Limited, emphasized that investments in children oriented programmes are the best long-term investments any country can make and generate savings for the government. He also said that kids should get more play time during the day since play time is more important than study time.
Mr Michael Feigelson, Executive Director- Bernard Van Leer Foundation, said That with 70 per cent of the world’s population expected to live in cities within the next 30 years, putting children’s rights at the centre of the urban agenda and engaging their views and participation in designing the cities they will live in, has never been more important.
The other important speaker in the inaugural session on the first day of the 2-day conference was Ms Dharitri Patnaik, Senior Country Representative- Bernard Van Leer Foundation. The conference is organised by Confederation of Indian Industry and Bernard Van Leer Foundation, with National Institute of Urban Affairs and Humara Bachpan Campaign as knowledge partners. The objective of the conference is to understand, discuss and propose the importance of designing cities from the vantage point of young children and promote collaboration among various stakeholders on cities that cater to healthy child development.
2 February 2017