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I have a great personal affection for India: Ban Ki-moon

Jan 13, 2015

Lauding Kailash Satyarthi’s work for emancipating children, the UN chief said the Nobel laureate inspired him.

New Delhi: The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has voiced his support for the gay community in New Delhi amid protests over Goa minister’s plans to treat homosexuals at ‘cure’ centres and make them ‘normal’.

“Laws criminalising consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination. Even if they are not enforced, these laws breed intolerance,” he said.

The UN chief, who is on a three-day visit to India, was speaking during the launch of UN@70 with Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi and United Nations Goodwill Ambassadors Sachin Tendulkar and Sharmila Tagore.

Lauding India’s contribution for the UN Democracy fund and in peace keeping, Ban said investment in women and children was the most powerful way to progress for any nation. Raising his concern over child deaths in the country, he said, “India has made great progress but still has highest number of child deaths under the age of five, and about a quarter of all mothers who die in childbirth are laid to rest in India.”

Recalling his old connections with India, the UN chief said that he had a great personal affection for India. “We have a strong feeling about India. I got my first diplomatic posting in India in the year 1972. My son was born in India and my daughter is married to an Indian,” he said.

Praising Kailash Satyarthi for his relentless efforts towards emancipating children from slavery, he said Satyarthi is an inspiration for the whole the world. “Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi has inspired me. I have deepest respect for his lifelong fight and commitment to save a lot of children from human slavery. I hope that he will continue to work to bring hope and peace, to bring to all these people to a peaceful, happy childhood,” he said.

Kailash Satyarthi said that there should be no excuse for child slavery as children are worst victims of this abominable practice. “The number of child slaves (5.5 million) in the world is not declining. The number of child slaves remains steady despite a dip in child labour,” he said.

Ace cricketer Sachin Tendulkar highlighted the need for ending child labour and child slavery. Calling children as unpolished diamonds, he said, “Millions of children in India and abroad do not get what they desire.”

Tendulkar also shared his concern for the healthy growth of children. “After retiring from cricket, the first responsibility I took was to become ambassador for UNICEF’s handwash campaign,” he said.

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