Bachpan Manao, Badhte Jao: Initiative to Celebrate Childhood and Foster Lifelong Growth


National: “Bachpan Manao, Badhte Jao” is a societal mission to celebrate childhood while nurturing the holistic development of every child. It is not just a campaign but a nation-building opportunity and societal mission, fostered by the vision that the early childhood experience (0-8 years) empowers every child in India to reach their full potential, equipping them to thrive in their future endeavours.

The launch of this initiative marks a significant milestone in advancing early childhood development and the foundational stage in India. EkStep Foundation is incubating the growing network of 75+ organisations that are aligned to solving for the growth, well-being and development of India’s youngest. EkStep is co-founded by Nandan Nilekani, Rohini Nilekani and Shankar Maruwada.

This initiative underscores the pivotal role of collaborative action in realising every child’s fundamental right to holistic growth. “Bachpan Manao, Badhte Jao” collaboration (a term derived from collaboration and action) is committed to forging partnerships that drive, sustain, and scale actions for lasting inter-generational impact.

Rohini Nilekani, Co-founder, EkStep Foundation, shared her vision for the initiative, stating, “Bachpan Manao, Badthe Jao’ is a societal mission to nurture the learning journey of India’s children by celebrating childhood itself, which is the greatest teacher of all. The youngest citizens of our country are the future. Every year, about 25 million children are born in India, and every year we have the opportunity to ensure that every generation of children is learning. We have the best opportunity to give that firm foundation of learning to every child in the country. A growing network of organisations has come together to complete this unfinished task of giving every little child the strong foundation needed to become a lifelong learner in a rapidly changing world. Come, let’s all help to democratise the joy of learning.”

As part of the initiative, the mission is launching a short film that encapsulates the simple yet profound joys of childhood, the moments where children learn and grow best. This heartwarming film aims to encourage viewers to “Celebrate Childhood” and opens their hearts and minds to the larger mission of optimising the foundational years. This unified effort aims to encourage caring adults especially parents and teachers to see the holistic growth of every child and understand the window of opportunity these early years present while recognising the importance of the power of exploration and play as a means to strengthen foundational learning for every child.

Scientifically, it is known that the brain’s plasticity is strongest during the first 8 years and over 85% of an individual’s brain development occurs by the age of 6. These early years lay the foundation for a child’s future, shaping their physical, cognitive, and emotional development. Recognising the profound and lasting impact of this phase on a child’s overall well-being, “Bachpan Manao, Badhte Jao” is dedicated to ensuring that every child in India experiences a nurturing and empowering environment.

Adding further, Shankar Maruwada, said, “This mission urges us to relook at the way we approach early childhood in today’s world. It invites us to understand, value and celebrate the abundance within and around each child.  Our role is to be a catalyst for this mission so that it can grow further, carried proudly on the shoulders of all collabactors.”

Building on the work and developments of decades of implementation of government policies, and scientific research, the initiative brings to focus the promise of curriculum frameworks and the need to recognise and see the abundance inherent in childhood and also the abundance in the ecosystem working towards the wellbeing of India’s youngest children no matter where they are. Every caring adult recognising and celebrating the first eight years of childhood as a festival of growth would be a powerful narrative for every child in India.