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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES IN INDIA

Rights of the citizens arc the pillars of democracy. No political system can claim to be democratic. if it fails to make provisions for rights of people. Without rights, the citizens cannot develop their full potential. Laski has rightly remarked that the rights are those conditions of life without which no man can develop his best self. That is why all democratic countries make provisions for the enjoyment of certain fundamental rights by its citizens. India too has made provisions for certain fundamental rights in the Constitution. There are certain other legal provisions to ensure the interests and rights of weaker sections like SC/ST, women, children, minorities, disabled etc.
However, the root question is  that why we need separate set of human rights at international level. when rights are  guaranteed at national level in democratic Societies ?. the answer to this question requires the understanding of evolution and nature of human rights.

Human Rights : Evolution, Meaning and Nature

The evolution of human rights as universal code of conduct at international level can be traced after the Second World War. Many scholars have observed that one of the main factors responsible for the world war II was the large scale violation of rights of citizens in Germany and Italy. Lack of democracy and human rights in these countries disabled citizens and the rulers adopted aggressive militaristic policy at international level. Thus. the violation of citizens rights in any part of the world contains the potential danger for the international peace and security. This assumption led the United Nations to encourage and promote certain basic human rights in all regions of the world for the sake of peace and security.

The notion of human rights got concrete shape when U.N. General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10 ,1948.
Each year December 10, is observed as the International Human Rights Day. The Declaration contains five kinds of rights-civil, political, economic. social and cultural-which are available to all people of the world without any discrimination.
Thus. Human Rights may be defined as those minimal conditions of life which are available to all persons of the world as human being. without any discrimination on any ground like caste, creed place of birth, sex etc. The Human Rights are universal in nature as they are available to all people at all places. Secondly. they are natural as these rights are available to people by birth. They are not the gift of any external agency. Thirdly, they are inalienable as no persons can develop as a human being without the enjoyment of these rights. Fourthly. human rights are interdependent and indivisible. They should be treated as an integrated set of conditions essential for human being.

Contemporary Significance of Human Rights
The basic question is why the notion of human rights has become significant in contemporary global affairs, even if there is adequate arrangement of citizens rights at national level in each county ? There are a number of factors responsible for their growing significance In the contemporary world. First. It is now well established that people have certain basic rights as human beings. without which individuals cannot develop their best self. Thus human rights are needed for the development of people as well as society
Secondly, the development and expansion of democracy has emphasized that the people and their rights and human dignity are at the heart of the governance and a prerequisite of good governance. Thirdly, the contemporary process of globalization anchored by the growth of information and communication technology has led to the increasing connectedness among nations, comm unities and people at global level. The world has, become, what Mac Luhan calls a ‘global village’. Thus the violation of rights of people in one part of the globe may lead to threat to the peace in other parts also. Thus the positive association between the respect for human rights and global peace has become more pronounced in the era of globalization . Therefore, the protection of human rights is no more a national concern merely but it has become now a global concern. Fourthly, the international human rights regime has become more elaborate and systematic. At present it is used by international community to judge the behavior of nations and rulers. The establishment of the International Criminal Court has expanded the scope of human right violation even by individual rulers and administrators. Also, the protection of human rights is used not only to measure the human development across the world but also as a precondition for conducting trade or advancing financial assistance by donor agencies as well as rich nations.

International Bill of Human Rights
As noted earlier, the world community led by the United Nations has developed a set of human rights which is known as the International Bill of Human Rights. Every member state of the UN, including India has to reorient its domestic human rights regime in tune with the International bill of human rights. This is not a matter of legal choice but a matter of legal as well as moral responsibility. Thus, in order to understand the nature of rights issues in India. one has to understand the nature of International Bill of Human Rights.
The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and  Eight other treaties adopted by the UN General Assembly and ratified
by the nation states including India.

The Universal Declaration of Human Right adopted by the General Assembly on 10th December, 1948 is the first major efforts towards the codification of human rights. India is party to this declaration. Even before the adoption of this declaration. The UN Charter reaffirmed its faith in “the fundamental human rights and in dignity and worth of human person.”

The Universal Declaration of Human Right adopted by the General Assembly on 10th December, 1948 is the first major efforts towards the codification of human rights. India is party to this declaration. Even before the adoption of this declaration. the UN Charter reaffirmed its faith in “the fundamental human rights and in dignity and worth of human person.”

The Universal Human Rights Declaration. 1948, contains 30 Articles. Article 1 and 2 sum up the ba.sic spirit of these rights. Article 1 declares that ‘a1l human beings arc born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and act towards each other in the spirit of brotherhood.” Article 2 of this Declaration states. “everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex. language, religion, political or other opinion.”

Besides this declaration the eight separate treaties adopted by the General Assembly and ratified by the member states of the UN from time to time also form the part of the International Bill of Human Rights. These eight treaties adopted so far are given below

(1) The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, which came into force on January 1969. India joined this treaty the same year.
(2) The International Covenant  on Civil and Political Rights, which  came into force on March 23, 1976. India acceded to the treaty in 1979.
(3) The International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, which also came into force on March 23. 1976. India ratified this treaty in 1979.
(4) The Convention on Elimination of  All forms of Discrimination Against Women, came into force on September 3, 1981. India joined this treaty in 1993.
(5) The Convention Against Torture, other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which came into force on June 26. 1987. India acceded to this treaty in 1997.
(6) The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which came into force on September 2
1990 and was adopted by India in 1992.
(7) The International Convention on the Protection of Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Family. This convention came into force on July I, 2003. It was ratified by  India in 2007.
(8) The Convention on the  Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  which came into force on
May 3,  2008.
India is yet to adopt to this convention. From the foregoing it is clear that India has accepted legal obligations under a general or specific international human rights treaties. It should also be noted that the UN has appointed a separate committee for each treaty to enforce its provisions throughout the world. These committees regularly meet in Geneva for this purpose. India has served as member in many of Committees.

Classification of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights mentions five types of human rights. Since this declaration was not legally binding in nature, the UN adopted two separate treaties to give these rights a legal sanctions. These treaties are—(1) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and (2) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The five types of General Rights and given below—

(1) Civil Rights—This category of rights includes (a) Right to equality in dignity as well as equality before law as all human beings are born free and equal. (b) Right to life. liberty and security of persons (c) Right against slavery and servitude (d) Right against arbitrary arrest and Right to fair hearing (e) Right to freedom of movement and residence within the country (f) Right to freedom of thought conscience and religion (g) Right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. It should be emphasized that all these civil human rights have been included in Fundamental Rights under the Indian Constitution.

(2) Political Rights—This category  of rights include—(a) Right to participate in the political process and elections (b) Right to equal access to political offices and posts (c) Right of the people to establish the government on the basis of their consent (d) Right to nationality and (e) Right to seek and enjoy asylum in other countries. These rights are also incorporated in the India Constitution.
(3) Economic Rights—Thee rights include (a) Right to own property (b) Right to social  security under adverse conditions (c) Right to work and protection against employment and equal pay for equal work
(d) Right to a standard of living which is adequate to health and well being (e) Right to rest and Leisure including reasonable hours of work and holidays (1) Right to form and join trade unions. In India, these rights have been incorporated under the Directive Principles of state policy.
(4) Social Rights—This category of rights include—(a) Right to marry and found a family (h) Right of the family to full protection of society and state (C) Right to mother and children for special care and assistance (d) Right to primary, education. Some of these rights have been incorporated within the Fundamental Rights to life and personal liberty under the Constitution of India. It should be noted that the right to Elementary education up-to 14 years of age was recognized as the Fundamental Right in India vide the 86th constitutional amendment passed in 2002
(5) Cultural Rights—These rights include—(a) Right to participate in the cultural life of the community (b) Right to protection of the moral or material Interest arising of any intellectual property. ta India the minorities have been given certain cultural and educational rights under the category of fundamental Rights. The intellectual property rights are protected by separate laws in this regard.
Human Rights Issues In India
Human rights issues in India emerge from the interaction of three kinds of factors — first, the provisions of the International Bill of Human Rights which India has adopted

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