What an average citizen should do now is to show our innate kindness and mercy to the child and protect her while unequivocally condemning the manipulative methods used by her own father.
By Sanjoo Thangjam
There is an old Buddhist adage that says that “What’s done to the children is done to society”. With this in mind, there is a need to understand what we are making out of our children. While the philosophical content of such understanding can be derived from many sources, the recent media hullabaloo over a well-intentioned effort of a child and her tainted father seems to have brought another level of debate that needs to be resolved.
The recent news of environmental child activist Licypriya Kangujam’s philanthropic effort of providing oxygen concentrators to those in need has drawn both bouquets and brick-bats on social media platforms. There were a number of Licypriya supporters who argued that the child should be separated from the shadow of crimes committed by the father. This very argument seems to been stamped over by others who argue that the child needs to be protected while the father continues to live till the law catches up with him.
Having said this, there seems to be some sort of confusion in the minds of people over the debate of the contributions made by an innocent child. Whatever said and done, one also cannot deny the fact that the child’s father is Kangujam Kanarjit at present wanted by the Manipur police on charges of cheating and fraud. This is where one should be ready to protect the child and penalize the father before unwanted situations arise out of prolonged association with a mind that tends to always lean on fraudulent methods to achieve fame and money.
The second wave of the covid-19 pandemic has made the debate even more difficult. While those who claimed to have received the kind contributions from Licipriya and team would ever remain thankful and the same humane deed lauded by her supporters, there are also those who say that the image conjured up by the media and public relations machinery is the making of her allegedly criminal father. The young child is barely nine years old. However, the young climate change activist will continue to be caught in a controversial media quagmire as long as her father refuses to come clean on all the controversial issues surrounding himself rather than the child.
It has been noted that there are both open and closed debates surrounding the issue of raising a child-like Licypriya, one also has to acknowledge that all the success of this little girl can be attributed to her innocence and simplicity while the failure lies solely with the father. For instance, on the issue of Licypriya turning down an invitation to run Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s social media accounts, social media networks have been abuzz with claims and counter-claims. As far back as March 8, 2020, Rishi Bagree, a Twitter user said “In the first place #LicypriyaKangujam was not invited as PMO team can’t handover Crucial @narendramodi account to 8 years kid thereby violating Social media norms. Her name just got featured in @mygovindia handle under the hastag #SheInspiresUs and she mistook it as PMO invite.
It is said that Licypriya took to Twitter announcing her intention to help. But it is the same social media platform where her contributions have been trashed because Licypriya is the daughter of Dr Kangujam Karnajit, a self-proclaimed youth leader from Manipur who has previously been arrested on charges of fraud, assault, and breach of trust.
On March 17, 2021, https://www.opindia.com/ also carried a report on the possibilities and impossibilities of a child to take up as many socio-political issues as possible. The website in a story headlined – Protestor for hire? How ‘environmental activist’ and child protestor Licypriya Kangujam has endorsed every random cause on Twitter, said that the “9-year old so-called climate activist, Licypriya Kangujam is the perfect example of why children her age need to go to regular school. From being a child climate activist, Licypriya now appears to have adopted the role of rent-a-cause activist”.
The same report said that Licypriya Kangujam shot to fame holding ‘Save Environment’ placards but soon started holding placards for anything and everything that does not concern the environment. These reports and social media updates are used here just to convey the message that there are people even from closest quarters who are willing to annihilate their own blood through human vices and folly. It could be a mother, a father, or anyone else.
What an average citizen should do now is to show our innate kindness and mercy to the child and protect her while unequivocally condemning the manipulative methods used by her own father. This writer for sure knows that everyone will love Licypriya if she comes out of her father’s shadow someday and be the “actual-self” depending on the universal Dhamma and the cycle of pains.
(The writer is a Social Activist for People Who Use Drugs (PUDs). This opinion piece was also published by The Morning Bell news daily,)