If Kids Ruled the World

Children share their unique plans for the future.

November 14, 2018 Updated 17:53 IST
2018-10-31T12:43:37+05:30
If Kids Ruled the World Illustrations By Keshav Kapil

Children are the future, but we never really take their opinions into account when planning for them. Have you ever wondered what a 13-year-old would do if he was in charge of our space mission? Or how a 15-year-old would go about promoting world peace? For our Children’s Day Special, 10 kids from around the country share their hopes and vision for the road ahead. Grown-ups, take note!

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If I were the minister for books and education, I would make sure that students had a lot more freedom than they do at the moment, which is close to none.

School and community libraries would always be open and have books on a large variety of subjects—skateboarding, oceanology, origami. Libraries would be organized and have an online archive so that no book goes missing.

Instead of having separate subjects in school, there would be projects that combine various topics, so that students won’t just be memorizing facts, but also understanding how things affect them in real life.

A project on how houses are built would mean that students see where the materials come from and what all goes into the making of homes. They would be able to understand the economics and how interconnected everything is—how many work hours construction workers and architects put in, and how much they are paid; the geography of the place and how it affects decisions about design and materials; how plumbing and electrical wiring are done; how they all affect climate change and what their carbon footprints are.

There are a lot more fascinating ways to learn things than by just sitting in classrooms. In fact, there would be no classrooms at all. Instead of sitting inside, students would be outside, under trees and shelters without walls. Rather than going out to experience nature once a year, why not bring nature into schools? After all, the future is all about saving our planet that is already on the brink of destruction.

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As technology advances, its original goal has been forgotten. It was meant to make our lives richer but has, in fact, done the exact opposite. We have become lazy and unfit. Ask yourself, when was the last time you rode your bicycle or played cricket outdoors? It is essential we take out time every day to do some form of physical activity. We weren’t born to just lie on the sofa. So get going and your body will thank you.

No matter how much money one has, he or she is not rich until they have something money can’t buy. We are too focused on others. Social media has done more harm than good. Who cares what your friend did in the Bahamas? At least you shouldn’t! We are so consumed by ‘success’ that we never have time for ourselves. Instead of working an extra 10 hours in the office, why don’t you go out for lunch with friends? We can be the most productive only when we maintain a perfect balance in our lives. So just sitting and playing with your dog over the weekend isn’t a bad plan. Start your day by giving yourself five minutes.

As a sportsperson, I understand the importance of being healthy and happy. If I were the minister of health and happiness, I would set up gardens and parks everywhere so that people could just go out with their families and take quiet walks. I would promote more healthy restaurants instead of the usual fast-food chains. I would open large sports complexes at affordable rates to encourage people to play and exercise. I would allow people to take time off from work and spend it with their families, surrounded by nature.

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If I were the minister for space, technology and robotics, I would use the power of technology and our space advancements to bring all of humanity to an equal footing, to provide opportunities to all and bring the world closer to a state of peace and security.

Every year, many lives are lost due to undiagnosed ailments or inaccessible health-care services. Techno-logy can help fix this. Under my leadership, the advances that computer scientists are making every day in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in predicting and diagnosing diseases will be utilized in hospitals.

We are all aware of the malicious activities being conducted on the Dark Web. We shall strive to bring this danger to a close and shut down its malicious websites—as was done a few years ago to Silk Road [an online black market for illegal drugs].

Popular services that use AI or big data have helped many and have become an integral part of our lives. However, they have the potential to be misused, and thus, my government will carefully scrutinize all such products in the future.

Another area where technology can have a deep impact is helping the elderly and the disabled, the numbers of which have only increased in recent decades. We will also be bringing smart gadgets to all homes as well as public spaces and make using them a breeze, while simultaneously educating all (especially the elderly) about technology and its uses. Robots will be found in public areas to help those with mobility issues or other disabilities.

Robots are likely to become an important part of the workforce. We shall ensure that the jobs they take are only the ones that humans ought not to be doing. A relevant example of the implementation of this is to make robots do the dangerous job of cleaning sewers in India, where many are currently losing their lives.

Our aims for space are ambitious. We hope to send autonomous satellites with mining robots to the Moon and nearby asteroids—both of which are rich in natural resources, thus eliminating the need to exploit our planet and damage it further for its resources.

We also wish to establish an interplanetary travel base on the Moon, to make it easier to travel to farther terrestrial bodies and hold rocket launches there, thus avoiding polluting our planet and disturbing nature.

As part of our goal to make the public understand and be aware of space and technology, we will commence a weekly programme in schools to educate children about new-age technologies and their uses. After all, it is children who will be ruling this world!

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Do you think that the world can go on like this for the next 50 years? Never! But we can make it survive for at least 50 years if we stop using plastic, if we reduce, reuse and recycle, if we stop using diesel and if we use solar panels, if we use less water and adopt other green initiatives.

As the minister for nature and environment, I would stop the use of fossil fuels in the country because they cause so much air pollution, ban the use of single-use plastic, make it a law to have only one car per household and install solar panels for free everywhere. I will make all these changes because if we harm nature, we harm our future—because nature gives us everything we need. If we protect nature, we protect ourselves and all the other creatures. I will trust the people to follow these rules. If that doesn’t work, I will make strict laws with fines and appropriate punishments. Because to save the planet I need everyone’s cooperation and support.

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Animals are captured and kept

In cages all day long.

They are so sad, in fact

The birds don’t sing a song.

 

My world would have none of this

No misery at all

No animals in cages

Or put behind a wall.

 

Animals would roam around

Birds would be free to fly

People would see them

Roaming happily by!

 

If I were the minister of kindness

To animals and birds too,

Happiness I’d ensure for them

Yes, that’s what I’d do!

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Love is an intensely positive emotion and peace is experienced as a sense of tranquillity. Both make us capable of recognizing the bountiful beauty present in all of Earth’s creatures. Nature has blessed us with emotions of love and aggression and given us the ability to make the rightful use of each. However, some people’s greed for power is disturbing this balance and destroying our humanity.

If I were the minister of love and peace, I would appoint social agents who would educate people about the strength of forming healthy relationships and the harmful consequences of violence and aggression. There would be special community-based activities in neighbourhoods to help people develop emotional maturity so that they can handle problems with ease. Positive ideas would be transferred amongst all so that people do not become easy victims of the power-hungry.

Value education would be mandatory. ‘Peace week’ would be held every month through a variety of events like discussions, dramatics, problem-solving and conflict-resolution activities. Youth would be encouraged to become ‘peace volunteers’ to monitor and maintain harmony in their localities.

Building healthy international relations would be of prime concern. I would encourage exchange of ideas to create empathy for other cultures and promote collaborative developmental programmes to maintain peaceful international relations.

Love and peace at the global level will only be possible if we, first, ensure them at an individual level and, second, believe that if we are damaging our society we should be the ones to improve it.

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Everyone needs a hobby—mine is painting. It relaxes me: I have to calm myself down and silence all the negative thoughts in my head to be able to paint. You can be stressed and angry while studying but you can’t paint or sing feeling foul. Painting has taught me discipline. You can have an interest in something but to be able to do it, you need to learn the right way to do it; and to be good at it, you need to practise regularly. Being good at painting has also made me more confident as a person.

If I were the minister for hobbies, I would ask all schools to have classes dedicated to hobbies. Every child would get to pick one hobby. Equal importance would be given to studies and activities such as dance, music, art, craft, reading fiction and so on. Some kids would be appointed as spokespersons, and they would work towards inspiring and guiding other children with respect to their hobbies.

All parents would be educated on the importance of hobbies—many of them only ask their children to study. They would be encouraged to find out what their child is interested in and support these interests. What we do for pleasure can often turn into dreams and careers. But as the minister for hobbies I would ensure that the fun part of pastimes is not taken away from us.

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Equality and justice for all have remained a utopia in Indian society—starkly different from reality. Discrimination against girls and women is a pervasive and long-running phenomenon. India ranks abysmally at 127 out of 146 countries in the United Nation’s Gender Inequality Index; 24,771 dowry deaths have been reported between 2012 and 2015 alone. One in every three married Indian women has been a victim of domestic violence. These practices create incentives for parents not to have girl children or to invest less in girls’ health and education. Female foeticide causes increasingly skewed sex ratios in India. According to the UNICEF, foetal sex determination by unethical medical professionals has grown into a Rs1,000–crore industry.

As the minister for justice and equality, I would focus on women’s education. Education accelerates women’s financial empowerment and independence. These are critical factors to end the dowry system and its grave consequences.

I also propose mandating representation for women in positions of local leadership to reflect female voices fairly. This will make women more confident to report crimes. Not to mention that female role models raise educational and career aspirations for adolescent girls and their parents.

Another area I would focus on is equal rights for India’s LGBTQIA community. It is frankly disgusting how key public figures refer to homosexuality as “dangerous to social morality” and a “disease”. Here too education is key; it remains the sole way to change people’s narrow mindsets. I would set up committees to address the issue of LGBTQIA-related bullying in institutions and workplaces. Schools and parents would be encouraged to help adolescents understand that having a non-conformist sexuality is not abnormal.

Throughout the history of India, our culture is what it is because we were inclusive. Laws may be passed. However, our country will have equality and justice only when its citizens genuinely believe and practise inclusivity—this is my appeal.

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All children tend to complain about their parents. Of course friction between generations is a given, but maybe it’s not entirely the fault of “whiny” children.

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is that many expect too much of their children. Encouragement and a desire for your child to succeed are wonderful, but full marks in every test is too much to ask for.

Many parents also try to mould their child into exactly what they want. Do this, don’t do that, don’t talk to her, don’t wear that, don’t listen to that. They forget we’re all individuals.

If I were the minister for grown-ups, I would advise parents that they guide their children instead of forcing them into a certain ideal. I would do away with the practice of grown-ups banning things. No more saying no to junk food and extra TV time. All parents would have to be open with their children, despite their instinct to protect us from the world.

A child isn’t something to own. Eventually they will take flight, and it is the responsibility of grown-ups to give them wings.

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Our entire existence is magical. Our bodies contain this weird presence we call a ‘soul’. When you look in the mirror, what are you staring at? Are you seeing yourself or are you a soul looking at your reflection, trapped in a dense collection of muscles and nerves? Not to mention that you can move this body by just thinking about it. How is all this possible? It’s unexplainable, right? Magic is the name we give to unsolved mysteries.

All the mundane facts of today were once consi-dered impossible myths and fantasies before they were proven by science. Believing in the impossible is what makes things possible. Lost your socks? Maybe elves stole them. Or fairies are playing tricks on you. There’s no need to limit your imagination.

If I were the minister for magic and fantasy, the first problem I would solve by snapping my fingers is global warming. Greenhouse gases, our increased burning of fossil fuels, including gasoline, diesel, kerosene and natural gas, as well as petrochemicals we now make from oil, would make no contribution to global warming whatsoever. One snap and the earth would be as good as new!

But what’s the point if we can’t enjoy our new, pollution-free, earth? I would make it possible for everyone to take time off their busy schedules and just sit and enjoy the planet and its bounties. I bet if a person does that he or she would realize how magical everything around us could be.

So, maybe today, after you are done with your routine, instead of taking out your phone and checking your social media profile, take a break and acknow-ledge your surroundings. Maybe you’ll end up turning fantasy into fact.

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