In the year 2008, in the Sichuan province of China, a major earthquake struck and killed and maimed thousands

of people. It devastated 3/4th of China’s total area and caused losses of more than 1 million USD. You must be wondering why I am talking about china in the middle of this heated debate. I’ll tell you- it is because I am going to talk about a young hero, a young hero who rescued 15 even younger children in a school bus. Here he was, sitting in his school bus waiting to be driven to the school, with the noisy lot of youngsters beside him. Then calamity struck and the bus was tossed to one side, with the driver dead and buildings falling about them, there was little they could do. Until Tong Shiqiang – our hero- took things into his own hands. He jumped into the driver’s seat and drove away to safety- outside the city. Saving the lives of 15 other juveniles! He is nominated to win the National Bravery Award at the heroic age of 14! You can imagine what would have happened to those same 15 youngsters if Tong had not been able to drive. Good morning everyone, I am Neerja Bakshi and am here to propagate that minors should be given driving permits. We are all growing up, pretty fast that too. Times are changing and so are the generations. What people once knew in their 20s we know in our teens, what we knew as teens we know now in childhood. When all are growing up so fast; becoming doctors and engineers at just 19, why shouldn’t we be allowed to drive? Once it was necessary to be 21 to vote, now we can at just 18! Children couldn’t work till they were 18! Now its only 16! A year back a boy needed to be 21 yrs old when he got married, and a girl 18. Now a boy can be 18 and a girl 16. If our government can expect minors to make some of the biggest decisions and choices in life, can’t they be expected to drive? My worthy opponents certainly don’t think so! In European countries minors actually can drive, they can get learner permits at 14 and proper licenses at 18. Germany is even manufacturing special cars for minors- dually operated. The tutor or adult sitting in the passenger seat can start controlling the car in case of something wrong. Even Americans get learning permits at 14! What are we Indians trying to prove? That Americans and Europeans are smarter, more mature and better than us? Us Indians? I don’t agree with that, I don’t think you do either but my worthy opponents do. Quoting famous author Lawana Blackwell “age is no guarantee of maturity” It just shows that even a 40 yr old grown up and be the most immature person and a 10 yr old can be more mature than her grandfather. So it’s demeaning to brand teenagers as immature when their parents can be even worse!

I am absolutely sure none of you in the audience would not want to drive! But my worthy opponents….. Thank you.

Just recently our government brought the minimum age limits for marriage down from 21 for boys and 18 for girls to 18 for boys and 16 for girls. If our Indian government expects 18 yr olds and 16 yr olds to make the most important decision of their life, can’t a 14 yr old be expected to drive to and from school? It just doesn’t make sense!