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Children's Day 2018: Google Doodle looks to stars as India celebrates children on Nehru's birthday

India is celebrating its annual Children’s Day on Wednesday, a moment for children up and down the country to be showered with gifts and special treatment.

Children’s Day falls on 14 November in India - rather than 20 November when it is marked by the UN - because it is also a celebration of the birthday of the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Nehru, known as the uncle or “Chacha” of the nation, was born on 14 November, 1889. When he died in 1964, India’s parliament voted unanimously to move Children’s Day to coincide with his birthday, in recognition of his contributions to education and his affection for the nation’s children.

Children’s Day is not a national holiday in India; rather, children going into school on Wednesday will expect to be entertained with musical performances, quizzes and special activities.

Efforts are also made to reach out to orphaned, homeless and underprivileged children, with students encouraged to distribute food, clothes and books in their school’s district.

Government ministries generally mark the day with tributes to Nehru and commemorative events.

The ministry of women and child development posted its “greetings on Children’s Day” on Twitter, saying that its efforts were “driven towards making children safe, educated, well-nourished and empowered”.

“Our government has made sure that no child is left behind in the march towards welfare and empowerment,” said minister Maneka Gandhi in a video message.

The event is being marked by Google with a rare Google Doodle that has been contributed by a member of the public - in this case, Mumbai school student Pingla Rahul, who won the 2018 Doodle 4 Google competition in India.

Google’s theme for this year’s contest was “What Inspires You”, and Pingla’s design shows an inspiring display of the stars, planets and an Indian space shuttle, complete with a tent camping out under the night sky and a little girl looking up with a telescope.

India has developed a growing reputation in recent years as an emerging low-cast space power, and the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has said he hopes India will become only the fourth country in history to launch a manned mission to space by 2022.

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