New Delhi, Nov 14 (UNI) The nation today paid tributes to Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's first Prime Minister on his 118th birth anniversary, also celebrated as Children's Day.
President Prathibha Devisingh Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi paid homage to the great stalwart whose immense love for children serves a constant reminder to renew commitments to ensure them a better future.
Addressing children in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Ms Patil exhorted them to mould their personality in such a way that they become disciplined and responsible citizens in the future.
The President also touched upon the issues of corruption and urged the youth to discuss among themselves as well as raise awareness through street plays about the scourge. The message should go from children to adults so that the younger generation is against corruption, she added.
Dignitaries including Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha L K Advani, Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P R Dasmunsi, H R Bharadwaj and others paid floral tributes to Panditji's portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament.
National Child Awards were presented to 36 children for exceptional achievements to mark the Bal Diwas by Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury.
The gold medal at the national level was awarded to Master Fenil Chetan Shah of Gujarat for winning several national and international chess tournaments. Silver medals were awarded to 35 children at the State level.
National awards for child welfare were also presented to five institutes and three individuals for their work in the area of child welfare.
Chairperson of National Commission for Child Rights Shanta Sinha said the Commission was setting up a mechanism to monitor incidents of child rights violation and would soon start a campaign at the grass roots level to create awareness about child rights. Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD Janardan Dwivedi also addressed children on the occasion.
As a 'Children's Day' gift, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit launched 'Kitabi Magic', an initiative to encourage children to read and participate in reading related activities. She also unveiled a statue of Nehru.
Inaugurating the International Children's Assembly and Integration Camp here, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh pledged one Bal Bhavan to each village.
''There are only 74 Bal Bhavans in the country that do not suffice the needs of children. Therefore, our aim should be to bring up 150 more Bal Bhavans next year and one Bal Bhavan in each village in the future.'' he said.
In Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy garlanded the statue of Panditji. '' The most befitting tribute we could pay to such a dynamic leader is to rededicate ourselves to strive for realising his cherished objectives,'' he said.
Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala and various political leaders, including Local Administration Minister M K Stalin, Information Minister Pazuthi Illamvazuthi and Union Minister G K Vasan garlanded Nehru's statue. A number of functions were held in schools and several cultural institutions to celebrate Children's Day.
Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Union Territory Administrator, General (Retd) S F Rodrigues emphasised the need to launch a mass movement to upgrade the quality of children's care and development.