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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Children outwit Orissa legislators
Children
Efforts are on to change the way the world treats children
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By Sandeep Sahu
BBC reporter in Bhubaneshwar
line

It was a parliamentary session with a difference.


I am convinced that today's children are much more conscious and aware than us

Balgopal Mishra, Orissa legislator

The venue was the state assembly of the eastern Indian state of Orissa but the legislators were children.

It was the chance of a lifetime and they made the best use of it grilling elected legislators on the plight and problems of children.

The unique one day session was organised by the state government in association with Unicef to mark the special United Nations session on children which began in New York on Wednesday.

Tough time

The range of questions raised by the children took everyone by surprise.

Children at Orissa meet
Child legislators: Seeking answers

From child abuse to shortage of school teachers and corruption in public life, children sought answers to all types of queries.

Twelve-year-old Anurag Mahapatra stumped the gathering when he pointed at a little girl washing utensils during the lunch break.

"If this is the plight of the children inside the premises of this august house, then what hope is there for those who live in far-flung areas of the state?", he asked.

It was hard even for some seasoned legislators to give a satisfactory reply.

Excitement

A veteran legislator, Balgopal Mishra, was quick to accept defeat.

"It was really tough on our part to answer some of the questions raised by them", he said.

Most of the children were excited with the idea.

Anubhuti Mishra, a student, said the event exceeded all her expectations.

But some of her colleagues disagreed.

Madhumita Sahu complained that the legislators managed to take up most of the time leaving little for the children in which to raise their views.

The speaker then invited questions in the form of letters.

Unicef representative Tom Olssen said he was thrilled at the level of children's participation.

He said he hoped the event would go a long way in raising public awareness over the concerns of children.

See also:

06 May 02 | South Asia
India 'losing' child-labour battle
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