These 2 words sum up an integral, unalienable part of every Indian’s life—whether it’s for children ferrying from between their hometowns and their natives or adults migrating between cities for work.
A formidable part of the Indian Railways are its officials.
Railway officials include Railway Protection Force (RPF; governed by the Ministry of Railways), Government Railway Police (GRP; governed by the respective state or union territory police), Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE), Ticket Collector (TC), Station Masters and scores of other officers. Railway personnel are a vital part of the flawless functioning of the Indian Railways.
For RCI to secure transport hubs and prevent any child from slipping into a life on the street, we work hand-in-hand with railway officials to reach, rescue and rehabilitate several thousand at-risk and abandoned children.
This collaborative effort resulted in the demonstration of a child-friendly station model and first-ever child protection guidelines for children in contact with the Indian Railways. This further snowballed into development of a Railway Standard Operating Procedure (SoP),which is being rolled out across 17 railway zones at more than 140 railway stations across India.
Commemorating this 25-year, long-standing collaboration that has evolved to include training of 40,000 railway officials to become child rights champions is the annually held felicitation ceremony, Abhinandan.
Abhinandan, or ovation, is an event that celebrates and honors the exceptional contributions of Railway Officials in protecting and safeguarding children at railway stations. This year the event was held in collaboration with East Central Railway, on July 28, 2023.
35 outstanding railway officials from each division of the East Central Railway were honored for their remarkable contributions towards the safeguarding of children in contact with the railway system. The event was attended by distinguished stakeholders from the zonal, divisional, and station levels, along with representatives from Railway Children India and its partner organizations.
Representatives from various civil society organizations, including PLAN, Prayas, Sarthi, Miracle Foundation, Bal Sakha, and UNICEF graced the event to further the echo the imperative of early intervention within railway stations—all united with the shared objective of safeguarding children.
An ardent supporter of the collaboration between Indian Railways and Railway Children India, Mr. S.C Parhi, Inspector General cum Principal Chief Security Commissioner, East Central Railway highlighted that within the ECR zone, it is a daily occurrence to witness the protection of approximately eight to ten children on the railways. He went on to say in his address “In the event that even a single railway staff member can save a child’s life, it stands as a commendable lifelong achievement.”
Team RCI’s sentiments resonated best in Navin Sellaraju Sukumar’s, CEO of Railway Children India, address, wherein he said “It is with great pride that we extend our gratitude to each and every railway officer here today, whose dedication and efforts have led to preventing 1000’s of children from falling into a harm. YOU have transformed railway stations into safe sanctuaries for children, like never before.”
What could easily be the most fulfilling address however came from Ms. S.R. Dutta, Sub Inspector at Barkakana Junction railway station, and one of the many women railway officials who graced the event and represented a strongly growing tribe of leaders.
“Hailing from a rural region in Odisha, an underserved area, protecting nine children at the railway station brought immense joy to my heart. This felicitation serves as a motivating force,” said Ms. S.R. Dutta.
Railway Children India is eternally grateful to every railway official manning the behemoth of a transport hub that is the Indian Railways.
With Abhinandan, RCI not only got a chance to express this deep-rooted gratitude but also celebrate the heroic laurels of railway officials.