“All human beings, whatever their cultural or historical background, suffer when they are intimidated, imprisoned or tortured . . . We must, therefore, insist on a global consensus, not only on the need to respect human rights worldwide, but also on the definition of these rights . . . for it is the inherent nature of all human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity, and they have an equal right to achieve that.” - The Dalai Lama
Shyam, an eight year old boy, arrives at his stall (which is nothing more than few stone slabs where he keeps his mini stove, a fry-pan, some biscuits, cigarettes and plastic cups) at sharp 7 am to serve tea to office-goers.
Ideally, he should be studying in a school like other children of his age but poverty does not allow him to study, for he has to eke out a living along with his ailing father to feed his family of six which includes four young siblings. There are thousands of such Shyams who lose their childhood even before they realise it.
How pathetic is this situation! Is this not a violation of human rights? In a democratic country, where we have rich businessmen, industrialists and scam-ridden politicians, we have forgotten the basic rights of the common man.
A child is deprived of education, a woman suffers torture at the hands of her in-laws because of dowry demand, a poor man is harassed by his employer and forced to work for extra hours, poor people sleep on pavements with no roof on their heads – this is to a large extent the state of our country today.
This is really soul-stirring and those who undergo such traumatic experiences daily can only understand the gravity of this situation.
India has a bad history of violations of human rights. Gujarat riots of 2002 showed the failure of state in protecting the dignity of human lives as atrocities against a minority community were committed mercilessly.
India is home to various renowned activists like Anna Hazare, Medha Patkar among others. But the fact that India has a vast population, more and more people should raise awareness amongst masses so that they learn to know their rights and fight for them. Human Rights activists can play a meaningful role and act nothing less than god in the lives of sufferers by taking raising the issues in the media so that they can be addressed quickly.
Poverty, hunger, illiteracy, lack of health facilities, gender discrimination, child labour, child marriage, domestic violence, LGBT rights, suppression of freedom of expression, human trafficking, regional violence are all subjects of human rights.
On the international front, the recent Arab uprising in Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Jordan and Libya led to the violation of human rights where innocent people were butchered mercilessly by the iron fist of dictators.
Occupy movement protests are also undergoing across various countries where people are fighting for their rights with full solidarity.
Finally, the violators of human rights should be held accountable and taken to task by the people through non violence and peaceful measures. Only then the true goal of transforming the world into a violence-free place can be achieved. The significance of social media and technology should be utilised in the best possible ways to assist human rights defenders.
(World Human Rights day is observed every year on December 10.)