Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai -- an Indo-Pak, Hindu-Muslim 'champions of peace' -- on Wednesday received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 for their pioneering work on promoting child rights in the troubled sub-continent, as they made an impassioned plea to globalise compassion.
"Satyarthi and Yousafzai are precisely the people whom Alfred Nobel in his will calls 'champions of peace'," Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjorn Jagland said in his speech before awarding them the prize.
"A young girl and a somewhat older man, one from Pakistan and one from India, one Muslim, the other Hindu; both symbols of what the world needs: more unity. Fraternity between the nations!," he added.
Satyarthi, 60, who gave up his job as an electrical engineer to run an NGO for rescuing children from forced labour and trafficking, and 17-year-old Malala, who survived a near-fatal Taliban attack two years ago with determination advocating education for girls, were named by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for the prestigious award on October 10.
They received the Nobel medal which is 18 carat green gold plated with 24 carat gold and weighs around 175 grams. They will share USD 1.1 million prize money.
Noting that violence and repression cannot be justified in any religion, Jagland said Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism protect life and cannot be used to take lives.
"The two whom we honour here today stand very firm on this point. They live according to a principle Mahatma Gandhi gave expression to. He said: 'There are many purposes I would have died for. There are no purposes I would have killed for'," Jagland said, invoking Mahatma Gandhi.
Satyarthi's NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement) prides itself on liberating over 80,000 children from bonded labour in factories and workshops across India.
According to the International Labour Organisation there are about 168 million child labourers globally. There are roughly 60 million child labourers in India alone.
Malala, who was nominated in the peace prize category last year also, had displayed tremendous courage even after the Taliban attack when she resolutely expressed her determination to carry on with her campaign for child rights and girls education especially in a country like Pakistan.
Speaking after receiving the award, Satyarthi asked audience to feel the child inside them and said the crime against children has no place in a civilised society.
"Children are questioning our inaction and watching our action," he said, adding that all religion teach to take care of children. Noting that the number of child labour has been reduced by a third, Satyarthi said, "My dream is to make every child free to develop...There is no greater violence than to deny the dreams of children."
The Nobel Peace Prize ceremony was disrupted by a protester who ran onto the stage as children's rights activists Malala Yousafzai was presented with her award.
The man waving the Mexican flag stormed the stage but was quickly interrupted by security and later arrested. The man's motive is not yet known, but he was seen trying to say something to Malala on stage.
Recounting his experience with the unprivileged people, he said, "I am representing the sound of silence of millions of children who are left behind."
"The credit to this honour goes to people who worked and sacrificed for freeing children," he said.
"I refuse to accept that the shackles of slavery can ever be... stronger than the quest for freedom," said 60-year-old Satyarthi, who asked the audience to feel the child inside them and globalise compassion.
The audience included King Harald V of Norway and Pakistan's former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
"Let us inculcate and transform the individuals' compassion into a global movement. Let us globalise compassion. Not passive compassion, but transformative compassion that leads to justice, equality, and freedom," Satyarthi said.
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, he said, "If we are to teach real peace in this world... we shall have to begin with the children." 'I humbly add, let us unite the world through the compassion for our children.'
Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Amaan and Ayaan performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert. The trio spread the message of peace, harmony and non-violence with a special 'Raga For Peace' conceived for the occasion. The ceremony began with an Opera performance by Norwegian classical pianist Edward Grieg and singer Hans Christian Andersen.
It was followed by Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's performance on his uncle Nusrat Fateh Ali's famous Sufi composition 'Allahu Allahu' with his troupe. Amjad Ali, Amaan and Ayaan took to the stage post the felicitation of Malala and Satyarthi to perform their 'Raga For Peace'. Each year, the Nobel Peace Prize Concert at Norway's capital gathers a host of talented artists from around the world to pay tribute to the year's laureate. Before leaving for the ceremony, Amjad had told PTI that it was a great honour to be invited to such a prestigious ceremony.
"It's a great honour for me and my sons to be given this opportunity at such a prestigious platform. We feel so proud to be celebrating an occasion of an Indian receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. That gives us all the more happiness," Amjad, 69, had said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai. He said, "The entire nation watches the ceremony in Oslo with great joy and immense pride. Congratulations @k_satyarthi!
"I also congratulate the young Malala Yousafzai for the momentous achievement," Modi tweeted soon after the awards were conferred.
Malala, who was nominated in the peace prize category last year also, became the youngest ever Nobel laureate.
In her speech, she said, "I am honoured to receive this award together with Kailash Satyarthi, who has been a champion of children's rights for a long time. Twice as long, in fact, than I have been alive. I am also glad that we can stand together and show the world that an Indian and a Pakistani can be united in peace and together work for children's rights."
"This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change," she said in her acceptance speech.
"I am here to stand up for their rights, raise their voice...it is not time to pity them. It is time to take action so it becomes the last time that we see a child deprived of education," she said.
Recalling her speech at the UN, she said "One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world."
She dedicated the Nobel Prize money to the Malala Fund, to help give girls everywhere a quality education.
"The first place this funding will go is where my heart is, to build schools in Pakistan --especially in my home of Swat and Shangla," she said.
She said Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Aung San Suu Kyi once stood on the same stage and hoped the steps that Satyarti and she has taken so far will also bring change -- lasting change.
"It is not time to tell the leaders to realise how important education is -- they already know it -- their own children are in good schools. Now it is time to call them to take action. We ask the world leaders to unite and make education their top priority," she added.
Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Jagland said that violence and repression cannot be justified in any religion. "Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism protect life and cannot be used to take lives," he said.
Echoing his views, Satyarthi said, "All the great religions tell us to care for children. Jesus said: 'Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to them.' The Holy Quran says: 'Kill not your children because of poverty.'
"I refuse to accept that all the temples and mosques and churches and prayer houses have no place for the dreams of our children," he said.
"I challenge the passivity and pessimism surrounding our children. I challenge this culture of silence, this culture of neutrality," he said and called upon all the governments, intergovernmental agencies, businesses, faith leaders, the civil society, and everyone to put an end to all forms of violence against children.
"Today, I see thousands of Mahatma Gandhis, Martin Luther Kings, and Nelson Mandelas marching forward and calling on us. The boys and girls have joined. I have joined in. We ask you to join too," he added.
Satyarthi lost a page of his speech today and wondered whether this had happened before to any other Nobel laureate.
"Solutions are not found only in the deliberations in conferences and prescriptions from a distance...Friends what is missing now of course is my (speech) paper," he said to peels of laughter in the Oslo City Hall where he received the coveted prize.
"But, no problem, I will continue without that," the 60-year-old said, quickly regaining composure.
Minutes later a Norwegian official came on stage with the missing page of his lecture and Satyarthi once again had the audience in splits saying, "Thank You so much! I don't know whether it has happened to some Nobel Laureate before or not."
"But many things are happening today and the best thing that happened is that a young and courageous Pakistani girl has met an Indian father and the Indian father met the Pakistani daughter," he said.