7 things you need to know about the Indian Nobel Peace Prize winner

Mr Kailash Satyarthi, named co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, has freed tens of thousands of Indian children forced into slavery by businessmen, land-owners and others.

Here are seven facts about 60-year-old Mr Satyarthi:

1. He was trained as an electrical engineer, but founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan or Save the Childhood Movement in 1980

2. He began his work by staging raids on Indian manufacturing, rug-making and other plants where children and their parents often work as bonded labour.

Under bonded labour, families often borrow money and have to work till the funds can be repaid. But often the money is too much to be paid back from meagre earnings and people are sold and resold.

3. Building on his initial activism, Mr Satyarthi organised the Global March Against Child Labor in the 1990s – dedicated to freeing the millions of children abused worldwide in a form of modern slavery.

"To employ children is illegal and unethical," Mr Satyarthi said on the Global March Against Child Labour website.

"If not now, then when? If not you, then who? If we are able to answer these fundamental questions, then perhaps we can wipe away the blot of human slavery," he said, summing up his philosophy.

4. The activist is also founder of RugMark, a widely known international scheme that tags all carpets made in factories that are child-labour free.

He described the plight of children forced into the worst kinds of abusive work in a 2010 interview with the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights.

He said: "If they cry for their parents, they are beaten severely, sometimes hanged upside down from trees and even branded or burned with cigarettes."

5. Mr Satyarthi has said his social conscience was awoken when he was six and noticed a boy his age on the steps outside the school with his father, cleaning shoes.

Seeing many such children working instead of being educated, he felt an urge as he grew older to solve the problem — launching him on his career of activism.

"I think of it all as a test. This is a moral examination that one has to stand up against such social evils," he said in the Kennedy Centre interview.

6. He also spearheads the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude or SAACS, among other groups, and helps oversee a transition centre in in the Indian state of Rajasthan where newly freed labourers learn fresh skills.

7. He lives modestly and keeps a low profile except for his causes.

Source: AFP