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Campaign to reduce satchels' weight gains momentum

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"Save my back" -- an online campaign to reduce the weight of the school bag contents -- has been gaining momentum with over 500 people joining it in a week.

NGO Uday Foundation, which spearheaded the campaign against junk food in Delhi schools, has appealed to the union Human Resource Development Ministry to frame policy for reducing the weight of satchels' contents as carrying heavy load was leading to back problems among school children.

"Gaining knowledge should be a joy, not pain. Today, children carry bags as much as 30-40 percent of their body weight. What will we achieve when a child gains good knowledge but has back pain for life?" asked Rahul Verma, founder of Uday Foundation.

The NGO has also started an online petition on change.org, where over 500 people have joined so far.

"Children's backbone is not strong enough to carry this much weight daily, sometimes up to the third floor of schools and flats. This is creating lumps, like in camels," Sreeja V., a parent, wrote on the campaign page.

Another parent, Anasuya Boligarla, wrote: "As a doctor and mother, I know the serious consequences of carrying heavy loads on the backs of the children that will lead to premature aging of the spine and injuries. As a lone mother, cannot educate the schools. Hence joining you for saving the kids' spine."

Verma says the solution lies with the union Human Resource Development Ministry as it already has a policy for Kendriya Vidyalayas across India.

"The policy says that school bags for Classes I and II should not weigh more than 2 kg. For Classes III and IV, the bag weight should be less than 3 kg, and those studying in Classes V to VIII shouldn't carry bags that are more than 4 kg. The upper limit for senior classes from IX to XII has been set at 6 kg," he said.

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